When did your fascination with motorcycles begin?
It was way back in 1954-55. When we lived in Indore, a small town with hardly anything to write home about. There were hardly six to seven families that owned motorcycles and one of my friends owned one. I would sometimes borrow it to brush-up my riding skills.
What attracted you towards the Triumph?
Whenever possible, we would try and watch English movies at the local cinema. Many of these movies showed the police riding Triumph Speed Twins. I was mesmerised by them and found them to be really beautiful machines. I also read a lot of international film magazines like Screen Stories and Photoplay from where I came to know that Marlon Brando and even James Dean owned Triumph motorcycles. I loved its throaty sound. Hear it carefully when it starts. The roar resembles that of a tiger. This was inspiring enough to buy the British marquee.
When did you buy your first Triumph?
I came to Mumbai in 1956 on some work and one of the first things I did with my hard earned money was to book a brand new Triumph Tiger T100. It cost Rs 4,950, as it had to be imported from England. I loaded it on a train till Ratlam, and then rode it all the way to my home in Indore.
How was the experience of owning a motorcycle in those days?
We are originally from a place called Jaora near Ratlam, and my motorcycle had a special registration number — ‘Jaora 1’. Mau was about 15 miles away from Indore and there were some theatres that screened English movies. I remember often riding down to Mau to watch movies on my newly acquired Triumph. It was sheer joy to ride this mean machine. But sadly one of the things I had to sell off in 1958 was my favourite bike, when I moved to Mumbai to pursue my career in the Hindi film industry.
And now after 50 years, you have revived your love story with the Triumph…how did this come about?
About three years ago Sohail (son Sohail Khan) bought me a 1956 model Triumph Tiger T100 for my birthday. It wasn’t in very good condition then. I tried in vain to get it restored a couple of times. Then one day I met Jignesh ( Jignesh of EGO Custom Wheels) who dismantled the motorcycle completely and gave me a long list of parts, that I imported from England for about Rs 6 lakh. The restored motorcycle cost me around Rs 10 lakh. Jignesh knew he was dealing with a connoisseur, knowledgeable of that particular motorcycle. He did a wonderful job.
How does it feel to ride the same bike you rode half a century ago?
I was determined to feel that same roar, those same vibes as I did when I first rode the Triumph T100, which I had imported from England in 1956. When this one was brought to me after it was ready, I was satisfied as there was not one thing which seemed out of place, just like my first Triumph. Jignesh and his team had achieved what I had in mind. And now it has also won the first prize as the best restored motorcycle at the Vintage Car Fiesta 2013 (organised by the Vintage & Classic Car Club of India in Mumbai).
Do you get a chance to ride?
Now I ride it at my Panvel farm quite often, as it’s not possible to ride this one on Mumbai’s roads without being noticed.
Your sons also own motorcycles. Do you like any of those brands?
Both Salman and Sohail own some high-tech and very complicated superbikes. With technical advancement, motorcycles have become very fast, but my Triumph is something else and still has its own charm.
Want a classic bike that you own, restored? EGO Custom Wheels has done the restoration project of the Triumph T100 1956 Tiger for Salim Khan. Jignesh Mistry and Rahul Dangle were actively involved in this restoration project. And we take his word when he says they have done a great job. So in case there’s a vintage bike lying in your garage, it might be worth looking up www.egocustomwheels.com
Model Year: 1956
Engine: 498 cc, parallel twin, OHV, four-stroke
Power: 27 bhp @ 6,300 rpm
Transmission: 4 speed / chain driven
Wheelbase: 140 cm