‘It’s what the bike deserves’ - Iowa police motorcycle to be museum showpiece after 25 years in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 15:39 04 February 2020 | UPDATED: 15:39 04 February 2020
When motorcycle enthusiast Keith Parry bought a battered, unwanted American police bike from a friend for just £750, little did he know he had acquired the last of its kind.
And now the only surviving Iowa State Patrol motorbike - which currently resides in South Acre, near Swaffham - is set to return to its rightful home.
The Kawasaki Z1000 first arrived on British shores in a shipping container back in 1995, before winding up in the Norfolk town of Harleston.
Mr Parry, then 42, couldn't resist a new project and set about restoring the sorry looking two-wheeler to its former glory.
"A friend of mine imports shipping containers of British motorbikes from America, and the bike I bought was only put in to stop the others from moving around," said Mr Parry, now 67.
"It was a basket case at the time, so had to be totally stripped down and rebuilt."
But after contacting Iowa police to find out more about his new pride and joy, he received an unexpected response.
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"They said it was impossible for me to have one because they had been sold at auction and dismantled," added Mr Parry.
"I said 'no that can't be right - I've got one right here!' Whatever happened, it ended up in my hands and that was the start of a 25-year relationship."
Over the years, Mr Parry has shown his prized possession at shows, carnivals and fêtes up and down the country, raising thousands for charity along the way.
Seeing the joy on people's faces as they sit on the bike and play the sirens has been the "best feeling in the world", he says.
Then suddenly, in December, Mr Parry was shocked to receive a letter from Gerald Schnepf - member of Iowa State Patrol supporters group - asking whether he would consider selling the Kawasaki for display in their museum.
"I said 'how the hell did you find me?,'" he added. "He said, 'there's an organisation in America called the FBI and we will leave it at that."
Despite the emotional attachment, he has agreed to sell the bike and bring this fascinating tale to a poetic conclusion.
"The museum committee have told me it will be a centrepiece and millions will walk past it every year," said Mr Parry.
"I'll be upset to see it go, but it's what the bike deserves."
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