Barn BSA: 1949 BSA Bantam D1

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The next owner of this 1949 BSA Bantam D1 will have to treat its restoration as a labor/labour of love, it won’t be a profitable venture to restore this rusty barn find to its former Mist-Green glory. Not that anyone here cares about money or profit in relation to the vehicle hobby… This project is listed on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $1,500 and it’s located in Perrysville, Ohio.

Yep, this one will take a lot of work. Although, when a person does a nut-and-bolt restoration on a motorcycle they typically work on everything anyway. Maybe it won’t be any harder or more expensive to restore this rusty BSA than it would be to totally restore any other motorcycle? I have never done one in this condition but I bet there are a few Barn Finds readers who have done restorations on motorcycles that have looked much worse than this one! Paging: Cyclemikey.. Cyclemikey to the front desk, please..

You’ll do the chrome on almost any restoration project anyway, and you’ll most likely track down as many NOS parts and pieces that you can find even if your starting point isn’t as dire-looking as this Bantam D1 is. Speaking of that, the BSA (Birmingham Small Arms Company) Bantam had a long run, being made from 1948 (for the 1949 model year) to 1971. They were two-cycle powered motorcycles ranging from 125 CC as this one is, to 150 CC, and finally 175 CC. The Bantam came in Mist-Green only for the early D1 models which were available from the fall of 1948 to 1963. Here’s a YouTube video of a formerly-rusty 1954 BSA Bantam being restored, so there’s hope for this one!

This is the early 125 CC model which had 4 hp. By the end of the run, the Bantam had a 13 hp 175 CC, but it was still a two-stroke. These bikes were based on the DKW Rt 125 and had the shifter moved to the right side in keeping with the British tradition. Here’s a YouTube video of a 1949 D1. The story on this bike is that it was recently found at an estate sale where the “owner implied that his father had bought this bike in 1950 from his grandfather who purchased it new the previous year.” As all vehicle sales stories go, whether that’s true or not is up in the air, but it’s a good story if nothing else. The seller says that the seat, headlight, and tail light don’t appear to be original, which is unfortunate. Hagerty lists a #1 “concours” level 1949 BSA Bantam D1 being valued at $5,000, a mere fraction of what the next owner will spend on the restoration. The next owner will have to do the majority of the work themselves and even then the parts, paint, and chrome invoices will most likely make this one a nice parent/child project rather than a money-making opportunity. I really like motorcycles this size but I know they aren’t for everyone. Have any of you restored anything in this sort of condition back to its former glory?

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  1. geomechs geomechsMember

    There were a few of these out west up till 50 years ago. Harley Davidson 125’s, Francis Barnett 125’s and 200’s, Triumph Terriers (150’s) and of course, BSA. There was a good dealer in Great Falls who sold lots of them in the day. My older brother picked up a BSA like this one for $5.00 back in ’67. It was a frame, wheels, gas tank and motor. The owner got disgusted because he couldn’t get it running. We could see that the magneto coils and breaker plate were upside down. We moved it around and it lit right up. But my brother, being the impulsive type, sold it for $25.00 and bought a ’59 Honda 305 Dream for $100.00.

    This one is a worthwhile project. You would have to replace the seat as the original would’ve had a solo (Terry) saddle. Plunger rear suspension came out around ’52 or ’53. I don’t recall seeing anything with them other than one guy’s ’53 650 Golden Flash.

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  2. Jim

    This would be a fun project. I love small bore singles. Also, rumor has it that BSA is due make a comeback in 2017.

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  3. Doug Towsley

    ‘Bout damn time we got some cool motorcycles on here! So, you guys want a much more viable project I have a bunch of BSA’s for sale (I am in Oregon). Including a 1952 Plunger Frame BSA A10 650 Golden Flash (And I have the parts to make it a BSA Hot Flash!).
    But this is correct, the HD Hummers and these were rip offs of the Germans bike as war reparations. These are not super valuable and few people in the US Bother restoring them however they are fun little projects. This would not be expensive to restore if you do your own work, The parts availibility is still very good for these and no lack of resources. I also have extensive Tech materials as well as manuals and parts books for these but you can download what you need for free off the internet. The seat thats on there is a stock style dual seat but these look much better with either the small Lycette or Terry solo seats.
    Many mail carriers used these and were quite common at one time.

    Our local vintage club hosts “Tiddler rides” for small bore bikes 250cc nd smaller and they are actually fun events. You could also attend our 2 stroke rides and the hipster kids would swoon over something like this.

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  4. Mike

    Hi ppl I am the new owner of that 1949 bsa d1 that came out of ohio she sits in pa now still looking the same as in pics its going out to ga this summer to restore…

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    • Butch

      How much to restore.?

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