When it comes to the Gold Star, “BSA” definitely doesn’t stand for “Boy Scouts of America.” This powerhouse of a machine produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company was specifically designed to bring power to the road and victory to the tracks.
In 1937, the inspiration for the BSA Gold Star came from watching pro-racer Wal Handley earn one of the gold star pins that officials awarded to racers who managed to hit a 100-mile-per-hour lap around the Brooklands racetrack.
The first model was released for purchase a year later. Its power, maneuverability, and reputation as one of the fastest motorcycles, superbikes, or scooters of the ‘50s made it an instant favorite among racers and collectors alike. From 1949 to 1946, the Gold Star won almost every Clubmans TT race.
The Design Specs
The 1938 model held a modest assortment of alloy in the frame, engine, and gearbox; a 496cc engine; and absolutely no possibility for sidecar attachments. This is the model that was produced up until 1948, at which time it was altered to allow for an almost limitless assortment of attachments.
Timeline of Versions with Changes and Pictures
By the time 1963 rolled around, the BSA Gold Star had gone through 14 iterations. Unfortunately, BSA determined the Gold Star wasn’t suitable for unit construction and canceled production, moving forward instead with the BSA C15.
- BSA Gold Star (1938-1947)
The original model was inspired by and built for racing, where it saw wide use and was considered a prime competitor by other manufacturers.
- BSA Gold Star YB32 and BSA Gold Star YB34 (1948)
These models were modified to allow for more customizability of the Gold Star, since a lack thereof was considered a major drawback of the line prior to 1948.
- BSA Gold Star ZB32 and BSA Gold Star ZB34 (1949-1952)
These were, to some extent, considered continuations of the YB32 and YB34 models. However, these models had major design changes to main bearing systems, frames, and front brakes.
- BSA Gold Star BB34 and BSA Gold Star BB32 (1953)
These models saw the introduction of a swingarm duplex frame and a more efficient gearbox, as well as previous versions of the frame offered as an optional alteration.
- BSA Gold Star CB34 and BSA Gold Star CB32 (1954)
During production of these models, BSA introduced a new engine with better finning and improvements to the crankshaft, connecting rod, valve gear, and pretty much everything else.
- BSA Gold Star DB32 and BSA Gold Star DB34 (1955)
This engine year, BSA improved many parts of the engine, adding additional functionalities for racers who specifically mentioned that the bike’s purpose would be to race.
- Gold Star Daytona (1954-1957)
The Daytona was designed to compete in the Daytona 200 rather than the same Clubmans TT circuits every year. Unfortunately, this ultimately proved unsuccessful.
- BSA Gold Star DBD34 (1956 – 1963)
The DBD34’s signature additions included clip-on handlebars, a redesigned head, and bell-mouth Amal carburetor.
- Gold Star Catalina (1959-1963)
This design was based on Chuck Minert’s customizations to his Gold Star, which he used to win the Catalina Grand Prix in 1956.
The Gold Star in the News
There hasn’t been much information regarding the Gold Star as of late, since it has long been removed from the world of racing, but many racers still consider it a classic.
Celebrities and Famous Media
Due to BSA’s refusal to enable the Gold Star line for unit production, it simply wasn’t practical for anybody other than professional racers to buy and own a Gold Star.
Here is a great Facebook group dedicated to the BSA Gold Star with about 2,000 members.
BSA Gold Star – A Racing Classic
Though it made its name as a custom-built line specifically designed for dominating the Clubman TT racing circuit, the Gold Star now dominates the world of class motorcycles.