About a year ago we featured a gem I found online after searching for vintage tweed amps called ‘Norton Guitar Works.’ A little shop all the way up in ‘cold as fuck’ Buffalo, NY, that sells three things: Vintage Music Gear, Vintage Hi-Fi Gear, and Vintage Motorcycles. As far as I was concerned, that is what Sears was built on. After the feature the owner, Taylor Belling, thanked me and we exchanged a couple short run emails.
Last week I received an email from Taylor saying he spent all winter finishing off his proudest restoration to date on a rather rare right hand shift ’71 Husqvarna 400 Cross. My interest perked up and the phone tag began to get more of the story. I’d never spoken to Taylor on the phone before and we joked about finally linking up. Ironically we have more in common than most – young vintage gear hoarders into all the same expensive hobbies and savvy enough to sell them to fuel our addictions of all things cool.
At a mere 27, Taylor Belling has created quite a humble little empire of cementing his place within the vintage gear market and now as one of the youngest Husky restoration outfits. Belling started building vintage Husqvarnas at the ripe age of 15 with a ’72 250. The appreciation for these dirt machines quickly grew and before long, this blonde-headed fresh-faced kid was scouring swap meets and moto shows for old Husky parts.
So how does such a young face rub shoulders in three of the most regarded vintage markets while holding his own? Good taste, I would argue. Belling’s appointment-only shop houses classic Hi-Fi equipment from McIntosh to Marantz and beyond. We chuckled about the similarities in our personal collections and how in some way it all makes perfect sense. Guys like us collect these things for the appreciation of the collectability, but more importantly the appreciation of the raw form-follows-function design esthetic of it all. If it’s 2012 and you are still searching for mid ’50′s tube amps to tour with, then of course you are going to be just as jazzed on a set of early McIntosh mono blocks. It’s science.
The same rings true with vintage motorcycles.
Sure I could own a Prius – make a monthly payment, get good gas milage and have a reliable run of the mill transport – but no, I have a bunch of 40+ year old motorcycles that don’t always start when you want them to, kick back at you when they want and end up sucking way more money into a month than that Prius. But that is just the price of cool, isn’t it?
So getting back to the restoration. The reason why it is so nice to have heard about it is that you just don’t see them… anywhere. Husky’s you ask? No, right-hand shift 400 cross Husky’s. Taylor explains that it took two years to get this 400 completed and to no fault of his own. The tank went through a couple painters’ hands including a horrendous story of having three tanks blasted, dents pulled and chromed only to have one painter spray over them and then dull the exposed fresh chrome with a nice steel wool massage. Countless attempts at getting the super rare waterslide decals to take and sourcing out the hard to find parts contributed to the epic and most triumphant rise to completion.
To most, this is a nicely cleaned up vintage dirt bike. But to many of the people reading this blog, we know the history of these 400′s. The most famous Husky 400 being the #98 that was raced by the legendary Steve McQueen and seen in the movie, “On Any Sunday.”
Belling’s Husqvarna 400 cross is simply immaculate to say the least. Its first week out in sunlight, the restored matching numbers bike captured two best in show trophies at this year’s BSA owners group summer rally in the European class. A far cry from when purchased 3 years prior with missing parts and a 250 exhaust beat into submission to fit the 400′s manifold.
Taylor explains he’s currently got two more resto’s on the horizon, one being another ’71 but this time a 360 Enduro replica of the famous hybrid that Malcolm Smith rode. Smith was made famous from his gold metals in the 6-day trials races and for being a race buddy of the aforementioned McQueen while running a shop in Riverside, CA.
You can purchase this rare gem for a mere $10,499.99 on www.nortonguitarworks.com as well as other great finds like maticulously crafted, period-correct water slide decals for your Husqvarna resto or Tom Peterson’s 1976 Gibson Thunderbird used in the band Cheap Trick.
I’m stoked that not only stores like Norton Guitar Works exist, but the fact that a 27 year old kid is in charge of it, keeping cool alive in the greater northeast.
**ALL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY TAYLOR BELLING AND NORTON GUITAR WORKS
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