For the first few years this publication was in operation, we were fortunate enough to have readers around the world send us images and short films of cafe racing. Spending time in the Uk at various classic motorcycle meets, we met plenty of Ton-Up OG’s who explained that finding such footage was a rare treat as very few folks in austere, post-WWII Britain could afford ordinary film cameras, let alone motion picture equipment. Still, over time, folks would show up whenever we camped out at London’s Ace Cafe or the Dugout Cafe in nearby Windsor, offering their old black and white reels of Super 8 film for us to utilize.
This was proof of how much the British cafe crowd embraced what we were doing and once Cafe Racer TV started airing on Discovery Velocity in 2010, it’s global reach brought even more vintage images and film footage our way. Most was shot by university students who were studying film production at the time and catching a glimpse of these grainy, often poorly-lit reels made us feel as if we were right there, blowing down the M4 on a Triumph special back in the old days. It’s hard to fathom in these days of instant, full-color, high-definition smartphone accessibility that, just a few decades ago, the events, people and places that motorcyclists experienced were either submitted to memory or quickly forgotten.
When we first saw the clip above a few years into producing the TV series, it really proved a mind-blower of the first echelon as color film was a true luxury in 1960s England, reserved for big-budget movies and the occasional nature documentary. With most TV sets being back and white until the early 1970s, this amazing short film about the 59 Club and the street racing cult that spawned it, must have bene meant to be displayed at movie houses as a sort of newsreel. We’ve never seen anything quite like it and to date we’ve bene unable to find other full-color film from the cafe racer heyday making this look at the scene that much more valuable. Strap on your Jet helmet, zip up your Bronx jacket and enjoy.