Fifteen minutes with former Scottish trials rider – Donald Buchan.
Interviewed by Grandson, Callum Buchan
Photos: Buchan Family; Ian Robertson
Special thanks to the Classic Racing 50cc Club UK for link to their article on Heldun.
I was born on the 1st of February 1940 in Perth, Scotland.
What is the family history in relation to motorcycles and can you tell us about Jimmy Buchan’s achievements in racing?:
My father, Jack, rode in the TT, the Scottish Six Days and the International Six Days. My brother Jimmy was in my father’s sidecar for the International Six Days at sixteen years of age in 1951 in Italy!
Jimmy rode the Isle of Man for the first time in 1954 and won the Clubmans TT in 1955 riding a BSA Gold Star. Then in 1956 he won the Manx Grand Prix double riding a Manx Norton.
Tell us about the retail motorcycle business you owned in Perth?:
‘Buchan Motorcycles’ was opened in 1960 by my father on Rannoch Road, Perth. In 1972 I took over the business, not because my father had decided to pack it in, retire and play golf all day, but because he felt you’re never too old to travel and got on his bike.
He planned on going from the foot of Argentina to the tip of Alaska. Off he went on his bike with insufficient cash banking on his charisma to be his currency and his iconic tam o’ shanter to explore the other side of the world.
Unfortunately, having reached as far as Mexico, he took ill before making it to the U.S and couldn’t complete his journey.
By the mid 1970s I opened a branch of the business in Forfar and in the next decade another in Perth Town Centre.
As you sold Bultaco and Montesa, did you deal directly with Comerfords and Montala Motors/Jim Sandiford?:
Yes, I dealt with all them directly and also dealt with Greeves Motorcycles, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki directly.
You rode a 50cc Heldun (mistake in SSDT programme saying 60cc Heldun) in 1968. Tell us about the Heldun and how did the SSDT ride come to pass?:
Having spoken to the Heldun representative at the 1967 Motorcycle Show, chatting about trials, they suggested I visit the factory at Birmingham for a test ride. This lead to me being offered a bike for the SSDT for the following year. The Heldun was powered by a Sachs engine.
In 1968 SSDT I completed the SSDT which is mentioned in this article http://www.classic50racingclub.co.uk/the-heldun-marque.html (they made a mistake in calling me John instead of Donald!)
You rode the ISDT in 1969. Tell us about the bike you rode on? None of the Scots finished in 1969, not even Ernie Page, what put you out of the event?:
I rode on a Greeves, it was a Comerfords International Six Days model, 250cc, part of the British Vase B team. I was hit by an Italian rider, I think on day two and fractured my ribs causing my premature departure from the event.
How many times did you ride in the SSDT?:
I think it was five or six times.
Any favourite events in trials in Scotland?:
Any Scottish champion trial, none in particular. I competed in the length and breadth of Scotland, from Rogart to Ayrshire. Riding various bikes from the aforementioned Heldun to Triumph 500cc.
Were you a member of Scotland’s oldest motorcycle club the Perth and District Motor Club?:
Yes, I was a member from the late 1950s until the late 70s.
Did you organise any events?:
Yes, I was the trials convenor for a few years of the Perth & District MC.
Did you scramble or road race at any time?:
Yes, I road raced on a 50cc in Errol 1958 and at Beveridge Park, Kirkcaldy in the early 60s. I took part in various organised scrambles and hill climbs.
Many thanks to Donald and his family for putting this interview together.
The article on Heldun, linked to in this article is the copyright of the Classic Racing 50cc Club UK.
Other ‘Great Scots’ in the series: HERE