I had the pleasure of sitting the next day with a real giant in the motorcycle business at The Chicagoland Motorcycle Racing Legends Brunch. It is an annual event attended by about 100 racers, shop owners and enthusiasts.
The man next to me, Basil Proskin, opened a typical 900-square-foot motorcycle store with a store, showroom, spare parts department, restroom, and office. It was 1947 and British cycling was a hot deal.
Those were the good old days. Basil was a reseller of Velocette, Triumph, BSA, Royal-Enfield, James, Ariel, Norton, Ducati and Moto-Guzzi and later took over Honda. Basil has a wealth of knowledge. He is smart as a handball player, funny and remembers very well the good and bad bikes he rides.
He said that in 1949, the new single BSA B33 500 sold for $ 895.00 based on £ 2.85. England then cut the pound to $ 2.50 to export more products, and the BSA’s price fell to $ 550.00. dollars! This is difficult for sellers who sell imports.
Basil’s business began to grow, and in 1958 it moved into a 2,000-square-foot building with another 1,000-square-foot basement. Many people were not allowed to get out, and there were many Chicago stories about treasures or a motorcycle with a bullet hole in the fuel tank.
Some customers like to remember the old days when floors were dirty. Near the center of the store is a 55-gallon drum and it’s trash. Woe to the thoughtless man who throws paper or garbage on the floor. Basil says, “You’re an animal!”
I was also asked to name Rosie, who is a sketch of a woman, in the men’s room. Occasionally there is a floating beer. Basil is known to drink his beer most of the time after work, but some say he took them on a demonstration ride down the aisle as a passenger when Basil soon had some beer with him. No one is allowed to ride or try a demo ride before buying a motorcycle, period.
What round does Basil have? Nothing. He just uses everything that comes in exchange. They ride on so many different makes and models that it’s surprising.
When he told me these things, he sometimes said things like, “Do you know why a Moto-Guzzi Falcone 500 single with a horizontal engine reverses? The crankshaft adds a little oil to the bottom of the piston for lubrication and cooling?” Or he would say, “What is the worst bike ever made?” And I would say, “Basil, I don’t know. What’s the worst bike ever built? ”His answer was the Norton 400 Electra. The starter sounds like a dump truck and when it starts, it vibrates so fast that the factory invents the repair by sending two metal rods to attach to the engine and then to the frame.
The Ace cycle World type sponsors some riders as its racing team. Basil calls them his “Horizontal Riders” because they always fall. In the early 1960s, Ace Cycle World expanded to become the largest motorcycle retailer in the Midwest. The modern showroom with an area of 6,000 square meters has more than a hundred motorcycles on display. In addition to being one of Honda’s leading resellers in the United States, Ace leads the region with sales of BSA, Norton, MotoGuzzi and Ducati. Right behind the showroom is an equally large parts department with tens of thousands of parts stacked from floor to ceiling. In addition, the service department is a quarter times larger with ten to fifteen full-time mechanics.
VonEsser arrived in Shaboogie (Schaumburg) collectively or 2 dealers. Warren White moved into the management of the organized business department and Jack became the service manager. Basil had the 3 departments fight for “top dollar performance” every month. The service department has the foremost events with the foremost workers. Against Jack was Ronny, associate degree assistant service manager, followed by Willi “Missing” Link, World Health Organization rode with Ducatis, Jimmy Woods, Spencer Tracy and Carl Rutheford, 3 flat trackers. Not all directly, however they work there. Next to Jack was Jim Bowling and so Dancin ‘Dan. within the next area, Hud, VanSkyke and Larry Pfrenger replace Jake. Another 10 to fifteen mechanics had worked at Ace in those twenty years, too several to call.
adjoining may be a warehouse wherever mechanics square measure trained to get rid of new bikes and prepare them for delivery. they need a twig booth wherever Henry M. Robert VanSkike will custom painting and stores his combat ship. his annual christmas party is best. there is a five-cent brewage faucet within the back, and one amongst the primary VCRs plays the newest XXX video. What a good thanks to celebrate the holidays! Later, once Basil’s sons were older and had a band, they performed with Joe Charles and different mechanics and contend rock’n roll and blues music till late in the dead of night.
this can be one amongst the largest attractions for loyal customers. Over the years, Christmas parties have brought a number of the foremost stunning live music performances I even have ever seen. Robert, Jake, young policeman, etc., the list goes on. These moments can forever sleep in the reminiscences of these World Health Organization square measure there.
But then, that’s all, Ace over up within the month of January. everybody features a month off. Basil handed over the vacation checks before protection the door. additionally, it ought to be noted that its workers square measure busy with the conceive to share the pension. In 1974, Tom Prassas, Jack’s relative-in-law, joined the crew, World Health Organization became the instrument for launching Basil’s new product MAXUM seventy five. when Basil negotiated the look of this John Slotther cable slot, Tom began building a lock available. . A press deliberation 1920 tons was wont to press the ends of the rope, the rope was cut by a hydraulic device and therefore the product was finished with a gas tool. With the STOP packaging style, the merchandise was introduced to the general public in 1975. it absolutely was a large success with the motorbike distributors lined up for delivery, and Sears signed a large commitment.
Ace Cycle World oversubscribed many bikes, reaching nearly 100 on weekday. And it is a company primarily based solely on cash, they do not take charge. it’s tough to urge funding from banks and while not credit cards.
Several riders got on their new bikes again, dropped the clutch and crashed on the sidewalks of the houses on Westerlaan. The poor soul got out of the way and fell under the CTA bus. That compressed SL90 image is really compressed. Overall, most customers survived and turned to larger and better bikes.
After founding one of the country’s largest motorcycle dealers and selling hot cable locks, Basil looked to represent another brand. He went to Missouri to buy land, run farms, and invest in a grain elevator. While in Chicago, shaking hands is a man’s bond, his comrades from Missouri have conspired in vain, – it’s eating the unthinkable. In addition to this problem, he handed over the management of Ace Cycle World to his two children.
They have their own problems and lack the strength of their father. When two fires were burning in both states, Basil threw in a towel and retired early. The season ended on Western Ave in Chicago on January 10, 1987. The season for selling motorcycles, parts and bicycle repairs is over. Great friends lost a truly unique place for storytelling, bank races, and good deeds. But maybe in retrospect it was a blessing. With over-regulation of manufacturers’ business practices, cases of idiotic customers, and over-enthusiastic government agencies, the motorcycle business has changed and is full of fun, informal days. Antiquity is lost forever.