HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1948 Triumph 5T Speed Twin motorcycle, a British...

Pick of the Day: 1948 Triumph 5T Speed Twin motorcycle, a British icon

The bike started off the company’s famed twin-cylinder models for decades to come


While many would-be collectors are priced out of the classic car market for highly desirable examples, there are still great vintage motorcycles that are affordable and present tremendous value.

There are classic motorcycles that sell for more than $100,000, but there also are plenty of gems out there that cost less that the cost of a new Harley-Davidson.


The Pick of the Day is one of those, a 1948 Triumph 5T Speed Twin advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in St. Charles, Missouri. (Ignore the incorrect headline if you click on the ad as this is not a TR4 as listed.)

The T5 Speed Twin was the first production twin-cylinder motorcycle offered by Triumph, the brainchild of the British company’s chief designer and general manager, the legendary Edward Turner.  It was introduced in July 1937 at the Olympia Show in London and was a smash hit from the start.

The Speed Twin’s 500c twin-cylinder engine would be the genesis for all the Bonneville, Daytona and other Triumph twins that followed.

triumph, Pick of the Day: 1948 Triumph 5T Speed Twin motorcycle, a British icon, ClassicCars.com Journal

When put on sale in 1938, the Triumph sold very well, but production was halted in 1940 due to a bit of unpleasantness happening in Europe. The Speed Twin would go back on sale after the war, when it received some needed updates, the most important being a telescopic front fork. The Pick is one of these models.

The bike has been ridden just 2 miles since it received a total restoration a number of years ago, according to the ad. The engine number is 48 5T 96311 and the frame Number is 36611. It features correct 3.25×19 Dunlop front and 3.50×19 rear tires.


The Triumph is being sold as-is and in non-running condition, although the seller says the engine has good compression. The pictures show a motorcycle that appears to be correctly restored and looking nice, although there are many details on these bikes that would need to be closely examined for accuracy.

Now, the not-running part might tend to put people off a bit, but this is a project that I would, and still might, purchase myself. I am pretty handy around old Triumph motorcycles, and since the engine has good compression, I would be willing to tackle it.

triumph, Pick of the Day: 1948 Triumph 5T Speed Twin motorcycle, a British icon, ClassicCars.com Journal

The worst thing that likely could be wrong is that the magneto is faulty, which would prevent the engine from starting, and requires a rebuild, a repair that would cost between $500 and $700.  

Factor that into the modest $13,995 asking price for this bike and I challenge anyone to find something this iconic and special for less money, especially pre-1960.

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.


  1. Great looking bike but other than to put it up so you can admire its looks it has no practicality in today’s times as being something you would want to ride on a regular basis.

  2. Beautiful bike but other than it being admired for its looks it has no practical use as you would not want to ride it. Take that asking price & buy a motorcycle that you could enjoy.

    • Personally I would;d buy it, show it, and ride it. I have had a few bikes more primitive than this one, a Brough SS80 among them, and this era of Triumph motorcycle is actually quite usable. Not for going down a highway but on backroads at 35-60 MPH, these are fun motorcycles. No one would buy an old Speed twin as their first, or even their second, bike but it would make for a fun two wheeled time machine.

  3. We had a 1966 650cc Bonneville and it was great. This bike is hard to fit in these modern high speed roads but would be great in neighborhoods and so much fun NOT to go fast on bikes to enjoy every slow motion moment!

  4. Had a 49 t100 received it as a flat track bike .wanted to get it to original condition but before i could it was stolen and never found again.but besides the oil leaks and the loose bolts i would of been more than proud to take that bike anywhere. A very original thumper and didnt they hold the title above harley for being faster off the line .thats what i was told buy a harley racer that changed to triumph back in the early 60’s.what a beautiful bike.


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