The BSA 500 Goldstar was still dominate in 1959, winning five major motocross events in England with BSA factory star Jeff Smith at the controls. Jeff remembers being ushered into BSA manager Bert Pertigo’s office to be congratulated on his success. Bert told Jeff, “You must be very comfortable with the 500 Gold Star.” Jeff’s response surprised Pertigo when he told him, “No, I think it is time for a complete redesign. We need to make a lighter motocross machine.” 

Jeff had been testing a 250cc BSA C15. The C15 was based on a street-model 250cc four-stroke, and the only mods were to strip off the street gear and fit motocross tires. BSA decided to compete in the British 250 Grand Prix on these modified street machines. Jeff said, “We didn’t expect any great results, because at this time the specialized two-stroke machines were flooding the class. Rolf Tibblin won the British 250 GP using the works Husqvarna, but, quite unexpectedly, I finished second and John Draper was fifth on C15 machines and we knew that could be dramatically improved.” As a result, BSA built a 342cc version of the B40 engine for Smith to race in the 1963 500 World Championship while working on the 441cc design.

With just three races remaining in the 1964 FIM 500 Grand Prix season, Jeff Smith received the bike he had asked for. It had more displacement (from 421cc to 441cc), a 79mm x 90mm bore and stroke, more power (32 horsepower) and less weight (a svelte 228 pounds). With the new 441, Jeff Smith caught and passed Rolf Tibblin to win the 1964 500 World Championship. It was BSA’s first World Championship crown. In 1965, Smith was able to defend the Championship by winning six GPs.

BSA took full advantage of Jeff Smith’s 1965 World Motocross Championship by building a production version of his Championship machine—the 1966 BSA Victor 441 GP. American BSA factory rider and AMA Hall of Famer Chuck Minert recalls testing the machine: “The GP model wasn’t as powerful, nor did it handle as well as our modified standard Victors.” Because of this, the GP model was never imported into America, though it sold fairly well in Europe.

In 1966, BSA made three models of the Victor—the Victor 441 GP, Victor 441 Enduro and Victor 441 Roadster (later called the 441 Shooting Star). For collectors, it is important to note that the Victor 441 GP is very rare in America, so make sure the oil tank is built into the Reynolds 531 frame and the bike has a flat-bottom alloy tank, fiberglass airbox, conical hubs, 20-inch front wheel and rigid footpegs. Fenders should be aluminum, and look for a 4-inch gap between the tank and short seat. The price of the 1966 BSA Victor 441 GP, after being converted from British pounds, was $950.00.


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