1971 Triumph Street-Tracker | Old Skool

Sonny Nutter gives vintage Triumph lovers another option

By Paul Garson, Photography by Paul Garson

Sonny Nutter has been kicking dirt in people's faces for decades and grinning about it. First as a dirt-tracker-turned-speedway racer, and now as a custom builder.

Nutter's personal Triumph Bonneville is a prime example of the type of bike that still pegs his redline. "With this bike I wanted to show people what could be done with the '71 and later models-bikes that weren't too popular compared to the Bonnevilles of '59-'70," he explains. "The switch to oil-in-the-frame left a lot of these bikes 'out on the fringe,' so to speak, and many say led to the downfall of Triumph. But now they're much less expensive to buy. You can pick one up for $1000-1500 and make something neat out of it."

Sonny called on a bunch of his old racing pals to help transform his Bonnie into a street-tracker like they used to thrash around L.A. First he completely rebuilt the engine, including a re-bore, new rods and pistons bumped up to 10.5:1 compression while retaining the stock cam. He then checked in with Jim Ashworth to fabricate the top engine hanger, rear brake anchor and speedometer bracket. To lighten the load, the battery was eliminated and a CDI employed, with a very small total-loss backup battery mounted under the seat to handle the brake and taillights.

The stock Amal Mk. II carbs were replaced by 32mm Mikunis attached to manifolds made by Eddie Crowell, who also hand-crafted the aluminum café seat and custom 11/2-inch pipes. Pirelli dirt-track tires hand-cut in legendary flat-tracker Eddie Wirth's style roll on brush-matte-finish Sun Rims, a 19-incher up front and an 18 out back. Brakes are the stock Triumph parts powdered and polished, while Works Performance came up with the shocks. The tasty '57 factory red-and-cream paint scheme was sprayed by Jim Marillo of Jim's Paint, the chrome and polishing chores were handled by Décor and the numberplates sporting Sonny's old #19x were made by Pro Plate.

"The whole idea was to make this bike easy to ride, with none of the overloading of a full racebike placed on the street. It's a whole lot of fun getting off the line, thanks to the torque and the low power-to-weight ratio," Nutter says. "These bikes have a really strong double-downtube frame and we shaved off about 80 lbs., so it's a nimbler handler as well."

And yes, Sonny can make more. If you're ready to get your bike "Nutterized," you can find him at The Garage Company (www.garagecompany.com).

By Paul Garson
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