Mr. Edward Turner Of Triumph Engineering Co. Visits Johnson Motors, Inc.

From the August 1945 issue of Motorcyclist Magazine

A desire of many years’ standing came to a realization recently when Edward Turner, Managing Director of Triumph Engineering Company, Ltd., of Coventry, England, made his long deferred and anticipated visit to America, and reached Los Angeles, California, on July 17th, after spending ten days in New York City. Mr. Turner is the designer responsible for the Vertical twin Triumphs (Tiger 100 and Speed Twin) and other machines in this excellent range which have proven so popular in California. Previously, he was Technical Director for Ariel Motors, Ltd., for which Johnson Motors are the U.S.A. Distributors, and he was responsible there for the designing of the “Red Hunters” and the “Square 4”.

Mr. Turner’s visit to California was on business matters connected with Johnson Motors, for the distribution of Triumph Motorcycles throughout the entire U.S.A., but this trip also gave him the opportunity to see something of Southern California, and also San Francisco. The San Francisco bridge intrigued Mr. Turner and, as an engineer, its construction gave him considerable food for thought. While in San Francisco, he visited several motorcycle dealers.

Edward Turner, who is ·a very charming person in his early forties, has been in the motorcycle business for a great many years, having started as an Engineer for Components, Ltd., who at that time owned Ariel Motors. He afterwards became Chief Designer, and eventually Technical Director. The Triumph Company, which he joined in January of 1936, was then making motorcars as well as motorcycles but it was thought by Triumph Company that motorcycles were not profitable and therefore the company was split up, with Mr. Turner assuming management of the motorcycle side which became known as the Triumph Motorcycle Company. Triumph Engineering Company, Ltd., is now the successor of that company and, in spite of its being destroyed by the blitz of 1940, the company today, with its modern new plant, is a thriving organization.

During his visit here in California, Mr. Turner had an opportunity to visit several engineering organizations who are interested in the manufacture of motorcycles for post-war activities and he has been able to see and to try several prototypes over which he expressed great satisfaction, with the view that the motorcycle industry in America would be much more flourishing if the riders had more of a variety from which to choose. He has expressed surprise that motorcycling is not much more of a popular sport than it is, considering the favorable climatic conditions of considerable portions of the U.S.A. In his estimation, England has possibly the worst motorcycling weather-a rider starting on his journey never knows whether the day will eventually end in rain or a fog. But in spite of this motorcycling in England continues to flourish and shows every sign of approaching a boom now that the war is finally over.

During the years of the war, most British manufacturers were busily engaged in the production of military type machines. While there are numerous experimental models in the process of being developed, it is very unlikely that anything startling will be produced in England for at least 18 months or 2 years. As a matter of fact, the British motorcycle manufacturers will consider themselves quite fortunate to get back to where they were before the war. It is safe to say that the immediate postwar models will be virtually the same as those produced previous to the outbreak of the war.

When asked what he thinks of American made motorcycles, Mr. Turner indicated surprise that they are so big and heavy. He reasoned that bigger frames and wheels would call for more and more power to maintain reasonable performance and, in his opinion, their weight of 550 lbs. is about 200 lbs. more than they actually need. However, he expressed admiration at the way such large engines and transmissions were packed in relatively small frames. He noticed it particularly in the O.H.V. 74 model of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle, which he thought was a splendid example of the high-powered heavy motorcycle. He hopes that Triumph machines will secure a reasonable share of the market for British motorcycles and make a contribution toward popularizing this sport in the U.S.A.

Naturally, Mr. Turner was interested in the film industry of Hollywood and arrangements were made for a visit to Columbia Studios, where after spending an enjoyable afternoon watching films in the making, he was photographed with Columbia’s glamorous star, Rita Hayworth, and Mr. W.E. Johnson, Jr., of Johnson Motors, Inc., together with the first post-war Triumph motorcycle to be shipped from overseas England.

Mr. Turner will return to Coventry toward the end of September, as in his words “All good things must come to an end.” He expressed himself as thoroughly enjoying his visit, especially the hospitality of sunny California. He has gained many firm friends and looks forward to a return visit some day in the not too distant future.

L to R-Columbia star Rita Hayworth, Mr. Edward Turner, and Mr. W.E. Johnson, Jr. (By courtesy of Columbia Studios)