In 1965, the BSA Lightning Motorcycle was thrust into the international spotlight with a starring role in the James Bond movie Thunderball.  The gold-painted motorcycle, ridden by SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe (played by Italian actress Luciana Paluzzi), destroys the car of fellow SPECTRE agent Count Lippe with rockets fired from the missile launchers on the front of the bike.  In fact, during filming, stunt man Bob Simmons, who was driving the car and detonating the explosion, was almost killed in the spectacular demotion of the car.

The BSA Lightning was originally developed as an all-round sports motorcycle, targeted for the USA market.  The motorcycle was powered with a 654 cc OHV parallel twin engine and had a top speed of 112 mph.  It was manufactured between 1965 and 1972.  During that period, all the gauges were manufactured and supplied by SMITHS Instruments. CAI continue to manufacture and supply replacement SMITHS gauges for the BSA Lightning and other classic motorcycles.

BSA Lightning Motorcycle

For the stunt in Thunderball, the BSA Lightning Motorcycle was adapted by special effects supervisor Bert Luxford.  The missiles, although not armed, did actually fire, although this was not used in filming.  The BSA Lightning starred alongside Bond’s favourite Aston Martin DB5.

In 1986, the BSA Lightning Motorcycle hit the screens again in the ITV series Boon.  Throughout the entire 7 series, lead character Ken Boon, played by Michael Elphick, rides a red and silver BSA A65 ‘White Lightning’ 650 cc motorbike.  It was a key character feature that endeared him to millions.

Cast of ITV series Boon

The BSA Lightning was a fantastic motorcycle of its time and even today, depending on the condition, a BSA Lightning Motorbike can be purchased for between £4,500 and £8,000.

For more information on gauges for classic motorcycles like the BSA Lightning, please contact us on:

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