John Gee claims to have got bitten by the motorcycle bug at the age of 8-year-old and the bug just kept getting worse. Nine years later he became an apprentice motorcycle mechanic and already owned half a dozen road bikes that he kept at a friend’s house so his parents wouldn’t know. And did the bug grow into an addiction? You bet it did! And the outcome? Nothing more, or less, than one of the best collection of antique motorcycles in the world.
By the time John had finished his apprenticeship he already had the makings of a truly nice little collection and it was obvious that his future lay in collecting, renovating and selling antique motorcycles. So it was no surprise that he decided to branch out on his own. It was also no surprise that his business would be named Antique Motorcycles.
Tucked away beside Melbourne’s secondary airport the business is now a huge historic motorcycling wonderland-cum-museum-cum workshop, built around one man’s personal collection. A monument to John Gee’s passion for anything interesting with two wheels.
Walking in the front door, through the cafe/bar area, there’s a huge showroom/museum area where dozens upon dozens of bikes sit in beautifully chaotic displays. Model planes, minibikes, snowmobiles, bicycles and speedway cars hang from the rafters and the place is chock-full of all kinds of memorabilia.
The opening of Antique Motorcycles in 1988 coincided with John’s other little obsession of making frequent trips to America to buy classic bikes. “In the late 80s, I was travelling across the United States and I noticed that Triumphs, Nortons and BSAs were cheap. So I bought 30-odd bikes, shipped them back and spent the rest of the year doing them up in the garage.”
John soon discovered that when you amass a collection of motorcycles it attracts other people with the same passion and before he knew it, he was importing bikes for other people and working on individual projects. “One day you wake up and you own a motorcycle shop! It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you do it long enough, you end up with a place like this. We’ve got a bit of everything here. I’ve even got a pretty big mini-bike collection, a hangover from that bug I had as a kid.”
John prefers original condition bikes and has spent most of his life taking chopper forks and handlebars and Craig Vetter fairings and touring bags off motorcycles and returning them to their original condition. He’s got choppers from the 70s, lot of turbo bikes, loves his British and German bikes, but, surprise, surprise, the most famous of all Indians is his #1 passion.
So it’s not a big surprise that he would become a dealer for the iconic brand made famous by Kiwi Burt Munro and immortalised in the movie The World’s Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins.
“We’re very happy to sell them, they’re not a hard product to move, in fact, they’re such a good bike that they sell themselves out of the box and it’s great to see a serious competitor to Harley Davidson. You bet!
And after all this time is the bug-cum-addiction starting to subside?
“What do you think?”
Making sure that your vehicle is not an absolute ‘steal’
If you live in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan, Townsville, Hume, Greater Geelong, Casey, Greater Dandenong or Whittlesea and you’re vehicle is parked outside, then you’d better duck out and check that it’s still there. Why? Well, according to research by vehiclesafe.com.au, you’re living in one of Australia’s vehicle theft hotspots. Apparently, around 150 vehicles a day are stolen across the nation, which adds up to a sum total misery of about $500m and it’s getting worse with figures for 2015/16 showing one of the biggest increase in g-rides.
According to Abigail Koch, of comparethemarket.com.au, the company that did the hard slog with the figures, it’s important for Australians to know where the theft hotspots are so they can be extra vigilant, especially in the theft ‘red zones’ within each state. “But it’s not just about being extra aware, it is also important for drivers to take the necessary preventative measures to reduce the chances of suffering a vehicle loss.
“This can include ensuring your vehicle is locked, and parked in a safe area, or making sure you have placed your keys in a safe place. Not taking these extra precautions can void your insurance policy, which could end up costing you the value of your vehicle.”
Abigail also reminds us of some other obvious precautions such as making sure all the windows are closed when you leave the vehicle especially as a growing number of insurers are knocking back claims if this has not been done.
Holden took out the gold medal for the most popular steal with a total of 2143 Commodores vanishing over the horizon accompanied by 932 Nissan Pulsars and 759 Toyota Hiluxs. At the risk of getting further into Homer D’oh territory, here’s a few more bleeding obvious, but often forgotten, advice to help you hang on to your precious bit of metal (Commodore owners should do exactly the opposite, as it appears that whatever you do won’t help as you really did get a good ‘steal’ when you bought it!).
Check it’s locked, and check again. It seems obvious but triple check your vehicle is locked and the alarm is on. Ensure you hear the central locking activate and look out for the visual signs too. Nearly all motor insurance policies exclude cover for theft if the vehicle was left unlocked.
Don’t leave your keys in the ignition. You might be gone for a short time, but opportunist thieves only need a couple of minutes to jump into your vehicle and drive away. If your vehicle has been stolen while it’s left running, your insurance may be invalidated. Not only will you go through the hassle and stress of losing your vehicle, but you won’t get any payout.
Know where you keep your keys. The easiest way for a thief to steal your vehicle is with the keys. Think about where you keep them at home. Is it near an open window or in your letterbox? When you’re out and about, ensure keys are not within easy reaching distance. Most policies state that drivers must take all reasonable steps to protect the vehicle from loss or damage, and will often reject a claim if they believe that the driver had been ‘reckless.’
Being extra aware when selling your vehicle. If you decide to part ways with your beloved vehicle, you must take extra precautions to sell it appropriately. If you display or advertise that your vehicle is for sale and don’t take reasonable precautions to prevent its theft or damage, then your insurance won’t cover you. Advertise fully and keep your vehicle protected until it is sold. (And don’t promote it as a ‘steal’)
Understand the cover that protects you against vehicle theft. There are several types of vehicle insurance you can choose from to protect your investment, but it’s important to know which ones cover you for theft and which ones don’t. For example, compulsory third party and third party property do not cover you if your vehicle is stolen. However, choosing extensive vehicle insurance such as third party fire and theft and comprehensive vehicle insurance could cover you if your vehicle is stolen. These types of insurances may also include the use of a hire vehicle if your vehicle is stolen and even the replacement of possessions left within the stolen vehicle.