JACK WICKES - TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES 1931-1970

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Frederick John (Jack) Wickes 1915 - 1997
With thanks to Tony Wickes for material from the Jack Wickes Archive.

Jack Wickes on his
Tiger 100

'Oh yes, young Wickes, he's my pencil'. When Edward Turner made this slightly patronising reference to his chief draughtsman Jack Wickes, he summarised their relationship quite neatly. The two men were very different, and Jack Wickes, with his charm, good looks and popularity, was the perfect foil for E.T's overbearing and egotistical manner. In the same way, Wickes unique blend of artistic flair and engineering skill was able to turn Turners ideas into effective, practical designs. The result was a long line of exquisite motorcycles which made most of the competition look almost agricultural by comparison. The BSAs, Nortons and Enfields with their ungainly cast shapes, functional tin-ware and sometimes awkward lines, couldn't compete with the raffish good looks of the Triumph.

Jack Wickes ambitions were as an artist, but instead, in 1931 at the age of 16 he followed his father into the Priory Street works at Coventry and joined Triumph as a Print Boy. He did still take art classes, but also took engineering classes at technical college. In 1935 he got his motorcycle licence and his first bike soon followed, a 350cc ohv model 3H.

In 1936 the company was taken over by Jack Sangster who installed the brilliant Edward Turner as managing director. During the upheaval Wickes was offered a job at New Imperial as a design draughtsman, but the perceptive E.T recognised a useful man and offered him enough to stay on. Jack Wickes, at 21 years of age, became a key member of the design team and E.T's personal assistant providing, at once, a good link with the company for the new boss and the skill and perception to turn the great mans ideas into practical successes.
The team of 4 design draughtsmen were under Herbert (Bert) Hopwood and were charged with immediately redesigning the existing range of machines.

Catalogue illustration of 1939 Tiger 100

Soon Jack Wickes was working on the final arrangement drawings for an entirely new twin and the combination of E.T's vision and Wickes loving attention to detail were to result in a legendary design which represented a quantam leap. Not just in motorcycle design pure and simple, but also in modular production and the potent nature of introducing visual appeal to a practical tool, as well as strong branding. For example, Wickes drew up the definitive version of the Triumph logo for the first time complete with specified form, proportions and rules of use. This was advanced for the time. In fact, Wickes was to go on and design all the tank-badge versions based on this name-style right up to 1970.

Post-war Jack Wickes really began to get into his stride with many of his signature design features starting to become synonymous with Triumph. Previously mundane items like number-plates & mudguard stays were treated to the same philosophy of creating flowing lines, while all angles and proportions were tweaked to add poise, giving the machine a lithe, sometimes urgent look and create that overall 'eyeability' which was always his objective.

Front cover of 1953 brochure/catalogue

[ Home | Research and Restoration | Frames, Forks and Numbers | Paint and Plate | Instrument and Lights | Engine and Transmission | 1934 - 1936 | 1946 - 1961 | Jack Wickes | Generator Set
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