European Motorcycles

Tilbrook Motorcycles, Engines and Sidecars

Made in Australia

A Brief History of the Marque

Rex Tilbrook of South Australia was best known for his sidecars which were of very high quality.

Like many an adventurous Australian motorcyclist, he yearned to join the hub of the motorcycle world and at the tender age of 18 traveled by ship to England, arriving in 1933. The Brooklands community accepted him and he opened a workshop in the area, specialising in tuned exhausts.

Shortly before WWII broke out he returned to Australia where he spent the duration contributing to the war effort in a local factory which put his mechanical skills to good use.

At war's end he returned to his passion and was soon producing motorcycle accessories, and in 1947 built his first sidecars. That same year he also built his first motorcycle based on a Zundapp design, but with most parts including the engine castings, the frame and the forks built locally. It was far advanced of most of its rivals and handled well. Featured included a massive fuel tank to better cope with the long distances which most Australians had to cover.

This 250cc machine was followed in 1950 by a road racer of 125cc, again of largely his own design and construction. The bikes and the team were presented at the track in splendid fashion, European style.

His racing bikes were good, but not good enough to win the Bathurst TT races run at Mount Panorama in NSW, a fast, exciting and very dangerous circuit with sections named Conrod Straight, Mountain Straight, and Skyline - so called because as you approached it that was all you saw before peeling hard right and down into the equally daunting Esses which today have a monument to mountain king Ronnie Toombs, who, it is said, on the day of his return to racing after a four year hiatus argued with his wife in the pits. She did not want him to run, and her last angry words to him were "Well go out and kill yourself then!"

That was related to me by a well-known racer and team manager of the day.

Rex Tilbrook designed a brand new engine for the purpose of winning the 1953 Bathurst race, a rotary-valve 125cc. It was, however, not a success and he returned to to a conventional two-stroke engine, achieving a 4th place in the 125 TT. The original twostroke 125 was taken to Phillip Island for the International GP in 1989 but was withdrawn before the race.

Rex continued in business for many years before, with his wife Dorothy, opening a restaurant in a seaside town which became quite successful.

Sources: Bikelinks, et al

BMW 1967 R60/2 with Tilbrook Sidecar
BMW 1967 R60/2 with Tilbrook Sidecar
BMW 1967 R60/2 with Tilbrook Sidecar
BMW 1967 R60/2 with Tilbrook Sidecar
BMW 1967 R60/2 with Tilbrook Sidecar
BMW 1967 R60/2 with Tilbrook Sidecar

  Wed, 13 Sep 2017
briancar at tpg.com.au
Tilbrook sidecars single sidecar approximate years 1950

Where could I purchase suspension springs or other parts for my three Tilbrook sidecars ?
Brian Cartwright
Bunbury/Western Australia Australia.

  • That's certainly a tough one. There was a chap making Dusting sidecars in Melbourne, and I think the name of the business is Melbourne Sidecars. If anyone has an answer, I imagine he will know them.

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