When $390 was a lot of money!

When $390 was a lot of money!

A fellow motorcycle shop proprietor in NSW rang recently and was lamenting that "customers were tight arses" I questioned him on this statement and was surprised when he mentioned older customers saying things are to dear now. Well in 1974 while I was working at F J Mussett & co the Triumph distributor some wag had ripped the label off a Amal carb box a few years earlier and stuck it on the door to the workshop, nothing special here except it had a price on the label at $28.50 and at the time they had risen about $10 which made us occasionally remark at how dear things were, we slowly started at such a youthful age realising what inflation meant.

 Of course a small house in Brunswick with a party wall was under $25,000 and a good counter lunch was about $5-7. At this time my wage was $103 a week take home in the early seventies,so a new Amal was about a third of my pay, heaven help Bonneville owners with two of the wretched Amal carbs, a new T140 Triumph would set you back $1850 in 1974 ride away so it had risen from $1050 since 1970, ouch.

 Malcolm Fraser our prime minister said a loaf of bread would soon cost $1.00 and suggested we hide money under the bed, and at this time Streets ice cream introduced a luxury ice cream resembling a hamburger at a outrageous $2.00 and everyone said no one will buy them at that price, seems they did though, this is the generation of people that my compatriot called "tight arses" they sold lots of Holdens at $3250 and $3500 for the station wagon over 100,000 were sold annually then

In this period dear reader I drove a 1967 Valiant VC Wayfarer ute had a Vincent road racing outfit and a Series C Rapide Vincent road bike, living at home with my parents and my idea of a social night out was to the drive-in with some mates, cheap living and steady employment what more could one ask for,  pretty well everything I desired was affordable and cheap. Possibly, I used to think back when saving for a set of rat-trap pedals for my Malvern Star bicycle over 2 weeks as a apprentice made me smug as buying a few crashed motorcycle insurance write-offs at the Triumph importer I worked for and repairing them for a handsome profit helped the bank coffers considerably. Triumph parts were always cheap and now are ridiculously priced eg a Zenor diode has only doubled in price since 1974 from $35 to $70 and a PRS8 lighting switch was $35 in 1968 and is now $185 and a Amal carb is now $320 which seems dearer than $28-50 but I and most others are not working for $103 a week, spokes on a new Bonneville are over $10 ea but on the old Bonneville they are $225 for forty stainless spokes with nipples, staunchion tubes now hard chromed are $110 against the new Bonneville at $360 ea! And what's your average worker going home with now and least $800 -$1200+ a week take home.

This brings us to the price of a base "poverty pack" Bonneville at $13,500 or the flagship T120 version at $18,500, in 1970 a T120R was $1050 ! And my two weeks of saving for pedals on the Malvern Star would now have me buying a new Giant bicycle under $209 and have some change. 


So that's means the best time to buy anything is now, as tomorrow it will be dearer, oh and the $390 in the title in 1967 was my first year apprentice wage,  For the Year!

Phil Pilgrim