The Corpus Christi Old Car Museum Auction

Lot 195
1972 Penton Mudlark Trials Motorcycle

Selling on Saturday

1972 Penton Mudlark Trials Motorcycle

• Extremely rare surviving Penton Trials bike
• The product of AMA Hall of Fame member, John Penton
• Offered in fascinating “garage find” condition

Frame No: W403

125 cc air-cooled DKW/Sachs A-Series single-cylinder engine, single 22 mm Amal carburetor, Sachs gearbox, chrome-moly tubular frame, Metal Profile front forks and hubs, swing-arm rear suspension with coil-over shock absorbers, front and rear drum brakes

A highly accomplished American motorcycle racer during the 1950s and 1960s, John Penton operated a motorcycle dealership in Amherst, Ohio, where he sold bikes from BSA, BMW, and NSU. Famous among the motorcycle-racing fraternity, Penton was one of the era’s top enduro riders, going on to represent the United States seven times at the FIM-sanctioned International Six Days Trial (now the International Six Days Enduro), between 1964 and 1970. Interestingly, the first American ISDT team of 1964 counted Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen among the team’s roster of riders.

After winning the 1966 Jack Pine Enduro with a Husqvarna, Penton became the Swedish manufacturer’s distributor for the Eastern United States. Seeking to capitalize on the baby boom generation with a lightweight off-road bike, Penton initially failed to convince Husqvarna, but soon put up $6,000 of his own money for Austria’s KTM to build a prototype, which went on to production in the United States during 1968 using a small Sachs engine plus improved suspension and detail features. These and his other machines were quite successful, as were members of Penton’s racing team. After having produced some 25,000 motorcycles, Penton sold his operation to KTM in 1978; in 1998, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Produced by Wassell in England to Penton’s designs and first offered in 1972, the Penton Trials/Mudlark was purpose-built for timed trials events. Uncharacteristically, it remains infamous as the one Penton model not to have achieved acclaim in competition. Part of the criticism stemmed from its 125 cc Sachs A-Series engine, which delivered poor low-end power, and the vague shifting characteristics of its gearbox, also manufactured by Sachs. Despite those shortcomings, Penton reportedly agreed to purchase these engines in quantity from Sachs, in hopes of obtaining their preferred “B-Series” engines. Steering and handling were also criticized, having been derived from the Wassell’s motocross and enduro Pentons, but unsuited to the precision demanded by trials competition. As a consequence, few Mudlarks were produced and sold by Penton, making this fascinating “garage find” a rare discovery at auction. According to a recent inspection, this Mudlark appears complete overall, requiring only a knowledgeable new owner to have it inspected and serviced to possibly return it to working order.

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