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Our 1971 Royal Enfield Bullet: Stolen & found after 25 years

When my Dad contacted his colleague, to whom he had sold the Bullet in 1995, he found out that the motorcycle was stolen in 1996.

BHPian arun1100 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Story of our 1971 Royal Enfield Bullet

Prelude

It's not often we get lucky to get back something that has been long lost. Here's the story of my Dad's 1971 Royal Enfield Bullet which he bought a year or two after he passed out of his college and started working as a Banker in rural parts of Karnataka.

In the year 1969, Dad started to work as an Agriculture Officer at Syndicate Bank, Hassan (KA) branch. With the need to travel across villages to meet farmers to facilitate them get loans for their livelihood, he bought the first vehicle of his life - The 1971 Royal Enfield Bullet. Over the years, he told me a lot many stories of how he spent more than half of his Banking career of 40 years by primarily using the Bullet for traveling.

The year is 1972, exactly 50 years ago. Dad and his friend, posing with the Bullet. MYH 1731, the numbers aren't very clear. This pic was the only reference I had of our Bullet.

Two decades later, in the year 1991, Dad bought his first car - Premier Padmini Economy. Dad's work now demanded a four-wheeler and hence his office provided him with a MM 540 and subsequently an Ambassador car. In the mid-90s, while Dad got transferred to Manipal, the Bullet was rarely used as his primary vehicle was now the Ambassador. One of Dad's colleagues knew about our unused Bullet and offered to buy the Bullet. Since it was Dad's first motorcycle and a much-loved one, he was not keen on selling. The Bullet was always parked in a covered area and was not left to rust. Since Dad's colleague was pursuing the Bullet's sale, Dad eventually budged to sell the Bullet to his colleague with the condition that the Bullet would be sold back to my Dad if he ever wanted to sell off. Back then, I was studying in 5th grade and had no clue what impact the sale of this Bullet would be on my life. A few months later, Dad's colleague rode the Bullet to our home as he wanted to show us the freshly restored Bullet and yeah, it was gleaming in black! This event was deep stuck in my mind.

Look out for the Bullet over the years

Years passed by, we left Manipal and settled in Bangalore. Dad eventually retired from his service and I was doing my graduation. I had fond memories of the Bullet and wondered where the Bullet was currently. In the year 1997, Dad bought the second two-wheeler of his life - Bajaj Chetak! In the next few years, many vehicles came into our lives and went away too. But the Premier Padmini and the Bajaj Chetak remained with us to this date; the Bullet was sorely missed. On the road, while commuting, whenever any Bullet passed by, Dad never missed admiring and listening to the beats of the Bullet.

Being a classic automobile enthusiast, I was very keen on finding the Bullet and had the hope of getting the Bullet back home! Back in the '80s, Dad got the regular repairs and service done at the Mehboob Garage on Nandidurga Road, Bangalore. Even today, the usual scene outside this garage is a slew of old Bullets parked close to the garage and on the footpath. Whenever I used to commute on this road, I used to glance at the Bullets with the hope that someday I would find my Dad's Bullet. I even spoke to the chief mechanic there and enquired about our Bullet. He recollected my Dad, our Bullet's registration number but had no clue of the whereabouts of the Bullet.

Since the Bullet was sold while we were in Manipal, I even went to Manipal/Udupi and asked a few garages around if they knew my Dad's Bullet by citing the Bullet's registration number, though the possibility was less. I also checked with a few Bullet enthusiasts and in the Bullet groups in FB. So far, there was no luck in finding the Bullet.

Just when I was losing hopes of the Bullet's survival, sometime in 2012, I got to know through FB that Bhpian Stanher (Shyam K'chari) bought a new Bullet. On casually discussing with him about my Dad's Bullet, he said, Bullets rarely die! He gave hopes that the Bullet would survive somewhere for sure. Since I had tried all possible ways to find the Bullet, I just let time pass by. In 2020, when I wanted to buy a motorcycle, the options considered were Bullet Standard 350/Classic or the Jawa. Dad preferred the Bullet, but I preferred the Jawa. I then told my Dad, I preferred to buy the Jawa as I was confident one day Dad's 1971 Bullet would surely come back home.

I told Dad to try contacting his colleague to whom he had sold in the year 1995 and when he finally did, his colleague shared the news that the Bullet was stolen from their house in the year 1996 and he had misplaced the RC book too.

Final countdown to the find

In Feb 2021, while I was searching for this Bullet's details in the Parivahan App, I noticed that the Bullet's Insurance details were updated and it was valid till Sept 2021. The Bullet was registered to someone from Mandya, near Mysore. At this point, it was clear that my Dad's Bullet survives! To summarize what happened next, please read through below the sequence of events that led to me finding back my Dad's Bullet after close to two decades of search!

  • The Parivahan App showed the current owner details with details of Insurance validity till Sept 2021.
  • To get the complete details of the Bullet in the Parivahan app, I required the full Engine and Chassis number.
  • I checked with Bhpian funkykar (Karthik Makam) and he suggested getting the B-Extract from Hassan RTO (MYH/ KA13).
  • B-Extract is a document issued by RTO which would provide the details of a vehicle like Name, Address, engine/ chassis number, insurance details etc.
  • Karthik shared a known RTO agent's contact of Hassan RTO who was also known to Bhpian addyhemmige (Aditya Hemmige).
  • In a day's time, the agent shared a copy of the B-Extract over Whatsapp.
  • To my luck, in the B-Extract the complete Insurance Policy ID was present.
  • To get a copy of the Insurance Policy, I contacted Bhpian Schakravarthy (Srinivas Chakravarthy).
  • In two days, Srinivas's agent could get a copy of the Insurance Policy.
  • To my luck again, the Insurance Policy had the Policy holder's mobile number!
  • I immediately called that number and asked about the Bullet. Voila, the person acknowledged that he owns MYH 1731 currently.
  • When I called him over a Whatsapp call, he was having tea in a hotel and he told me to do a Whatsapp video call and he would show me the Bullet.

There it was, Dad's MYH 1731 - I'm seeing the bullet again after 25 years!

I controlled my excitement and spoke to the owner for some time. I was eager to know how the Bullet landed with him. I briefed him that this Bullet was first owned by my Dad and I was searching for this Bullet for almost 20 years. He then went on to say that this Bullet was seized and parked in the Hassan Police station probably during regular police checking or may have been caught for riding under influence. In 2015, the Police department auctioned off all the seized vehicles; our Bullet was one among them. This Bullet was auctioned for Rs.1800 to someone who lives near Mysore and he, in turn, sold it to the current owner who lives in a Town called T Narsipura, which is an hour's drive away from Mysore.

When I asked him if the Bullet was complete with all parts, he said it was complete albeit with some rust. Hence it was restored ground up and also used extensively thereafter. This also proved, the Bullet was not seized after a major accident. The current owner was very curious to know how I got his mobile number. I just told him about the Insurance policy. He didn't ask any questions further. I told him I am keen on purchasing this Bullet. He said he needs some time and after a week, he agreed to sell the Bullet to me. I immediately sealed the deal for, of course, a premium price!

It was now time to get back the Bullet home. It was Bhpian Funkykar (Karthik Makam) whom I asked about the plan and he suggested we would go to the town near Mysore where the current owner resides. It was decided that we go in my Fiesta with my daughter as she was equally excited and later, Karthik would ride the Bullet to Bangalore.

Start of the Mysore trip. Karthik, my daughter - Yashna - and me.

Quick stop for breakfast on NH75

The moment we were waiting for.

We reached the town and did a phone call to the current owner. He shared his location which was a govt office. We reached there and he said he was busy with his work and requested us to wait. Meanwhile, Karthik and I started searching around for the Bullet. After about 10 mins, we located the Bullet.

What a feeling, I was truly on top of the world!

Initial observations

  • Karthik and I first checked if the engine was original. The engine and engine number stamping appeared original.
  • We then checked the condition of the chassis. It was original with no visible rust. The chassis number matched and stamping appeared original.
  • By now, we were convinced that our efforts so far of finding the Bullet were worthy.
  • I was a little disappointed looking at the accessories on the Bullet. But hey, it is a 50-year-old motorcycle and had some bad history.

Way too many add-ons on the Bullet, which were an eyesore - The side box, brass fittings, and the mud flap.

Here's the current owner - Mr. GK

I should be grateful to him for keeping the Bullet in such good shape and also for agreeing to sell the Bullet to me. Owning the Bullet, that too a Classic one, was a matter of pride for Mr. GK who happens to be a rich and popular landlord of the town - T Narsipura near Mysore, where he lives. His grandfather owned a similar vintage Bullet back then and hence it was GK's wish to own one such Bullet. In this town, we noticed all the two wheelers' around there were the 100cc mileage oriented ones, not even the new RE Classic. This Bullet was unique and a noted one among his contacts and neighborhood.

We spent about two hours with Mr. GK. He gave a quick walk-through of the mechanical condition of the Bullet and told us about the general maintenance he always followed. We were lucky that the Bullet was under good care! Thereafter, all of us had lunch, we did the papers work and it was time to start back to Bangalore.

Karthik was all set for the 160 km ride to Bangalore.

Karthik doing what he loves.

Late in the evening, here's Karthik at my home after a safe ride.

Yashna, as excited as me to have the Bullet back home.

I had thought of showing the Bullet to my Dad the next day post a good wash of the Bullet. However, Dad called me and expressed his desire to have a look at the Bullet that night itself. Around 11 pm that very night, I rode the Bullet to my parents' home close by.

Finally, the man and his machine were united!

Tasks ahead

  • Restoration - This was needed to make the Bullet more reliable on the road, appear neat, and pass the Fitness Test.
  • RTO Documentation - Since this Bullet was auctioned by Police to the previous owner, the documentation procedure was lengthy and hence pending for this long. Need to sort this out.

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