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The Salt Ghost

 

The “Salt Ghost” first came out of hiding around 2005 at the Bub Speed Trials, where some old guy rolled it out of a trailer at that event’s swap meet. Keith Martin of Big D Cycles in Dallas bought it without a second thought. Keith and his crew got it running in a few hours and rode it back to the old guy, who seemed mighty impressed that they could exorcise his demon so quickly. Keith took it back to Dallas, where it remained in his office until Wes White, another learned student of Bonneville lore, started bugging Keith about the machine a couple years ago. In September of 2009, Keith Martin succumbed to Wes’s prodding and sold his LSR time machine to Four Aces Wes and fellow partner in grime Tyler Malinky of Lowbrow Customs.

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Along with the bike Wes and Tyler got a box full of trophies, memorabilia and documentation proving the Salt Ghost’s racing pedigree. One such piece was a photo showing bike and owner/builder doing a buck-forty and change at SoCal’s El Mirage dry lake in 1969. The man behind the bike was Theo Ozen, the president of an El Mirage racing club called the Rod Riders in ‘68 or ‘69.


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The Salt Ghost is a classic piece of dry lakes racing history, complete with badass speed parts. A 1961 Bonneville engine powers the bike, and the chassis comprises a 1948 Triumph rigid frame with a swingarm pre-unit Triumph gearbox mounted with custom alloy engine/gearbox plates. The Bonne mill has a later nine-bolt head on a 650 barrel with Harmon and Collins roller tappet conversion. The cams have yet to be identified, but they have serious lift, enough for the valves to require .008” and .010” clearances when stock was .002” and .004”.

 

salt3.jpg

 

Two Amal GP carburetors dump fuel into this fire-breathing motor through not one but two Amal Matchbox floats. These floats are like an open or shot trap door. Since GP carbs have no idle circuits, keeping the Salt Ghost lit requires revving the throttle constantly. Both the stock primary and final drive chainguards are functional works of art with just enough meat to save the rider’s foot from turning into hamburger. This open approach was necessary to facilitate speedy gear ratio changes. The oil tank is another super tricky piece that was made to fit into the place where the generator on the stock bike would have been. It probably holds a couple pints—just enough to keep the motor lubed for the three-mile stretch at Bonneville. The clip-ons are barely there, and the rearsets with no-frills brake and shifter linkage are pure function, no flair at all.

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Rolling stock on the Salt Ghost is a cornucopia of goodness for vintage part nerds. The front rim is a WM1x21 Borraini Record, and the rear is a WM1x20. The front wheel is shod with an Avon Speedmaster and the rear boasts a shaved Beck “TT Special.” Shaving tread was low-buck speed mod back in the day to reduce the rolling resistance and rotational mass of a racing bike’s meats. The crowning glory for this bike is the ultra-rare 1957 Tiger 100R/R gas tank, which is distinguishable by its angled petcock fittings and its super-slim shape, to say nothing of its original, stock paint. Where is the seat you ask? It is on top of the fender, and after sitting in a barn for the past 30 years it has become a taint breaker without equal.

 

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The Salt Ghost’s new owners are justifiably thrilled by their latest acquisition, but remain circumspect about their machine’s future. Could a resurrection on the hallowed grounds of its birth be in the Salt Ghost’s racing log? Time will tell. Today only one thing is certain: The Salt Ghost’s spirit is destined to live on in the greasy, nurturing hands of two very dedicated and capable patrons of the Brit bike arts.

 

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Click the here above for a big desktop-sized photo.

Photo by Hugh Swingle


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Commented on 1-4-2010 At 03:02 pm
 

that is awesome! It will be cool to see what Wes/Kyle decide to do with this piece of rolling history!

Commented on 2-2-2010 At 10:46 pm
 

i remember this bike sittin in the corner at big d or was it rpm tryed to buy it myself but keith wouldnt budge looks like it got a good home

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 03:16 pm
 

I am curious what they will do with it, too.

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 03:25 pm
 

You lucky bastards! No matter how much you paid for that bike it was still a deal.

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 03:41 pm
 

Wow how awesome is that thing! That gearbox really had me confused until I started reading. Glad it made its way into good hands

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 04:20 pm
 

Abeblinkin, you really don't want to get confused by British trannies.

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 04:32 pm
 

Wow it looks like my bike only the Salt Ghost has been better cared for. Probably runs better too. Mine has that same problem - have to keep revving to stay alive. Luckily the throttle sticks open so it's all good.

Nice acquisition. Interested to see where it goes. I hope you guys don't fuck it up and sand blast it an paint it and shit. I think it's only fitting that it is ridden until it falls into dust....

~Rev Mike

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 05:16 pm
 

I am glad I do not have to make the decision on what to with that bike. Do you get it running good enough to make a few exhibition passes at Bonneville or take it the next step further and prep it to break a class record? The former will preserve the bike in its past glory and later will continue the legacy. Great find, you have a piece of history there. Tim

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 07:32 pm
 

nicely done.

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 08:45 pm
 

I would have to say that bike is one of my most highly prized possessions, and I am sure Wes would say the same. It is just about the coolest thing ever. It is in good hands no worries there. I figure a DNA springer, some white walls and metal flake and we will be good to go. haha

Tyler

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 09:08 pm
 

i wet myself when i saw this! that is so freaking awesome!

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 09:29 pm
 

I am with Tyler on the prized possession. Along with my original as raced Desert Sled, this bike is really important to me. The bike will be preserved for sure, it was never painted and polished, so why should it be now. Rebuild some if it, maybe, replace a few parts, true, but only for a good cause. I think the original riders and owners of the bike would like to see it raced. We are gonna think about making that happen.

Commented on 1-4-2010 At 11:44 pm
 

unreal..what a great bike with a rich history..thanks

Commented on 1-5-2010 At 12:05 am
 

Great story; it's very cool to see this and compare it to the aesthetics and style that Wes puts into each of his bikes. The "function over fashion" rule still applies at Four Aces in 2010, and it's a great legacy to carry on.

I didn't know much about the racing history, and I though the Salty Dog was a sexual position, so thanks for the lesson in history and cool.

Commented on 1-5-2010 At 12:38 am
 

i remember seeing this bike a few years agon in classic bike magazine i think. glad you posted it here, as i would have been mighty disapointed had i tried to find it in dallas this year. What a great bike, i say freshen up the engine and keep the patina and asthetics the way they are.

Commented on 1-5-2010 At 03:10 am
 

Fantastic,it'll be good to see it being rode not stowed, looks like its in good hands.

Commented on 1-5-2010 At 10:30 am
 

im with tyler - white walls, red spokes, flake paint and a tall sissy bar - then it will be BITCHIN. im loving the made in england seat pan kinda deal

Commented on 1-5-2010 At 02:24 pm
 

Whatever Wes and Tyler decide to do will be amazing.....

well at least whatever Wes does will be!

Ok J/K Tyler

Commented on 1-5-2010 At 02:44 pm
 

i saw that bike in a mag a while back. pretty amazing piece of two wheeled history.

Commented on 1-6-2010 At 03:55 am
 

That bike reminds me of a woman i once new. Somewhat beyond her years and a little rusty, but i new she could teach me a thing or to that the young shiny sluts couldnt.

Commented on 1-6-2010 At 07:45 am
 

I can't stop comming back to check it out! too cool!

Commented on 1-6-2010 At 05:59 pm
 

Holy crap guys! Thats killer! Congrats! -GothY-

Commented on 1-7-2010 At 01:03 am
 

Awesome article!

Commented on 1-7-2010 At 03:25 am
 

joint custody huh? does it stay at Wes's place during the week, and then Tyler gets it every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend? seriously cool time machine, great write up too.

-A.

Commented on 1-9-2010 At 02:27 am
 

dam. congratz. an have funn wit her

Commented on 1-9-2010 At 12:34 pm
 

Nice bike, a chunk of the Salt Flats history.

Commented on 7-20-2010 At 10:06 pm
 

i dig the 21/20 combo on this bike. sweet scoot

Commented on 12-5-2010 At 04:56 am
 

i would like to see the thing tear down a long stretch or road or salt!!! nice piece, fuckin fantastic.

Commented on 6-2-2011 At 06:23 am
 

Check out an image.google "vintage motorcycle racing photos 033-1 jpg"

A very similar animal?

Commented on 11-9-2011 At 07:59 pm
 

Just watched Wes' video on triumph rebuild, it's worth the price. makes me want one. The Salt ghost is beautiful.

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