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Kevin Smith's Early 247

Dating an Early Cota by Photo

The 247 Cota is the granddaddy of them all; Montesa's first 'production' competition trials mount, released in 1968, to rival Bultaco's Sherpa, and like Bultaco, was given to one of the top British riders to develop, Don Smith.

Don had taken two European titles for Greeves, and had lead the way for the 2-stroke machines in the sport.

He debuted the Montesa in 1968 winning the International Scottish Six Day Trial, before campaigning the bike to European title honours in 1969. Success that would have publicised the marque for sales of 1970 models, of which I believe Kevin Smiths machine is probably an example. Dating Cota's and especially 247 Cota's is not a very precise art, as I mention elsewhere. Frame numbers do not identify model years, and the consecutive numbering of frames, doesn't help narrow down dating very much, as they were batch built to meet varying demand, and the numbers manufactured each year varied enormously.

Kevin's bike, as you can see has obviously been 'tidied up' at some point, the black painted exhaust and plastic mudguards indicating a 'functional' rather than 'concourse' restoration, which I think Kevin is considering.

From the frame number Kevin offered, the low serialisation points towards one of the very early machines, as does the square cut side panels of  the seat / tank unit.

He was a little  vexed by the exhaust though, and was concerned that it exited so close to the left hand shock absorber, with no apparent silencer, and was concerned that this was a modification by an earlier owner.

Unfortunately, I couldn't say for sure, whether he should be concerned or not, the pics he supplied not showing the arrangement too clearly, behind the body work, and not having any clear pictures in my library of early cota-pics to compare to.

However, the early Cotas didn't have any pronounced silencer, there was just a small secondary baffle box under the seat, with the pipe exiting pretty much just behind the left shock, as Kevin described. This was actually quite a conventional arrangement in the era; tail-pipes being shunned to save weight, and not deemed necessary, on bikes which weren't being 'thrashed' on a wide open throttle!

Comparing to 'dating' pictures, as said, I couldn't find one that showed the exhaust arrangement clearly on a bike this early.

Earliest comparison I could see was on a '72 model, of which there is a brochure shot below.

Its far from clear, especially at viewing resolution, but enlargement shows barely that the pipe is extends barely beyond the shock, seems to be swages slightly from behind it, and is then slash cut, so that in profile all you can se is the oval aperture of the pipe.

To try and nail down the date a bit better; the features I looked at were the engine cases and carburettor arrangement.

If you look at the brochure shot of the 1975 Ulf Karlson Replica, you will notice that the clutch actuation arm is on the top of the primary case, while earlier models have the lever beneath, while the case itself, is a very plane flat sided 'lozenge' shape, with shallow fining. Obviously, Kevin's bike is earlier than that.

Looking at the '72 model then, again by casings, the magneto side casing of that model is slab sided, with pronounced ridge detail, unlike Kevin's which is smoothly contoured with a cut away around the gear lever.

More revealing though, is that on the 1972 model, the carburettor is located very close to the barrel, whereas on Kevin's machine, and the catalogue pictures of both '68 & '70 models, the carburettor is almost out of sight, on a long swan neck inlet manifold.

 
 

This was a common arrangement on two strokes in the era, when the machines were piston ported and carburettors run 'open' with no filter. Two strokes, without reed or disc valves, have a tendency to push charge back through the inlet port, dragging more fuel into the air stream as it makes its second pass, and disappearing into the atmosphere beyond the carburettor mouth.

The long inlet manifold countered some of this, effect, keeping more charge in the manifold before it did its back flow through the carb, making carburetion and fuel economy a lot better. Shorter manifolds, though were better for power and throttle response, and later trends saw the use of air filters, then later air boxes, to catch reverse flow.

But, that lovely graceful manifold and the rounded engine cases are the definite features that tie Kevin's bike down as a really early one.

And the reason I date this machine as probably 1970 model, is because that is the year that they started to actually 'sell' in any numbers, on the back of Don Smith's achievements on one, AND I refuse to stick my neck on the line!

BUT; the frame number Kevin offered was remarkably early in the serialisation, and it COULD be from the very first batch of Cota frames made, in 1968......... but, don't get your hopes up. They didn't build up all of the bikes they made parts for in that first batch, and a raft of 'mods' were rapidly introduced. It is quite possible that frames from the first batch lingered in stores, with later made frames used first, until supply shortage under increased demand saw them pulled from the back of the racks.

I directed Kevin to Jim Sandi fords for authenticated dating letter and any archive history; Be interesting to see what this turns up. you never know, it could be a bike with an interesting past; maybe one of the bikes Don smith had as a 'practice' mount, or one offered to aspiring riders to try out for the Montesa team! then again, it could as easily have been an early customer bike, sold to a sceptical clubman who couldn't get on with 2-strokes and put it in the back of his shed and forgot about it for thirty years!

Any way, Hope Kevin keeps me abreast of what he does and finds out about the bike, its definitely an interesting example, and be nice to see the bike back to original condition of used as is in classic competition.

And here, as it's contemporary with the machine is the 1970 Montesa Sales brochure, showing Cota & Capra, and the claims they made for them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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