The British ‘handmade bicycle family tree’ is almost as gnarled and twisted as the Italian, with builders moving from one brand name and family business to another, as they either went broke or were bought out by larger ones. The story of William Frank ‘Sandy’ Holdsworth is a particularly knotted branch and one person who could tell it well is Melbourne’s Andrew Blake, a vintage enthusiast who renovated this Lady Mistral, Holdsworth’s top of the line mixte circa 1982-83.
Blakey has restored bikes from numerous obscure builders, including a few by Claud Butler. The Claud Butler name was bought out by the Holdsworth Co Ltd in 1958, adding to its domination of the market. Mostly producing ‘bread and butter’ bikes, the Holdsworth shop also released a number of exceptional custom frames to order. The ledger book was mainly filled with road and track frames, including a few touring frames with all the braze-ons for custom built racks and carriers.
The Mistral was Holdsworth’s top of the line racer, launched in 1963 and continuing to be a mainstay of the company’s catalogs throughout its varying fortunes and guises. The Lady Mistral was announced in 1982, “…craftsman designed and built for the girl who prefers a ‘mixte’ to the conventional diamond frame”. Blakey built up the Reynolds 531 frame with period wheels, Bluemels guards and even Holdsworth’s proprietary Allez! brand rack.
PS: 2013 has well and truly descended upon us. Have you ordered your 2013 Cycle EXIF Calendar yet?