Vale, Phil Reeves

17 Apr

Philippe (Phil) Reeves joined our Club in 1978, Member No 207, and held continual membership until his passing in March 2021.

It is fair to say that Phil inherited his interest in motor bikes from his father, Oliver Francis John Reeves, who was a fanatical collector and restorer of motor cycles. There was a period when Ollie and Phil were heavily involved in the collection and restoration of BSA Bantams. At the culmination of their collecting they possessed about 35 Bantams ranging from the first D1 to the B175 Bushman. Phil’s reputation as a restorer was so appreciated that he drew the attention of Jim Scaysbrook (editor of Old Bike Australasia) to the extent that one of Phil’s machines adorned the front cover of Issue No 17, along with a comprehensive 6 page text and photo compilation inside.

Phil’s interests were not confined to Bantams as he also constructed a 250cc Gold Star BSA. I know there are many who will not believe the authenticity of the previous statement ( and they are quite correct in not believing it) but Phil’s reasoning for creating this unique motor bike was that he could not afford the genuine article, and he wanted to create a talking point among other bike enthusiasts, a goal that he certainly achieved. One could be forgiven for believing that this home built “special” was nothing more than a bitsa, but nothing could be further from the truth. The quality of the project was of such a high degree that it also featured in Old Bike Australia (issue No 21, Sept/Oct 2010 ). [The two action shots at the top & bottom of this post are from that shoot].

Phil’s interests were not confined to British bikes, as he also developed an appreciation of Italian bikes, notably Moto-Guzzi, and of course Ducati, both marques of which Phil possessed. Phil was also employed as a mechanic for an Adelaide based Ducati dealership.

A personal anecdote I can relate about Phil’s expertise, and his willingness to assist a fellow Club member in trouble, occurred to me one day while out on a run in the Adelaide Hills on my ST4 Ducati. I am sure you have all heard about the dubious reliability of Italian electrics. This particular day after morning tea at the Lobethal Bakery, I attempted to resume my ride, however turning on the ignition key did not result in the customary fuel pump priming. After many futile attempts to start the bike, I hit on the rather inconsiderate decision to Phone Phil, and seek his advice. After explaining the situation to him, he was able to walk me through various tests that could be performed on the roadside, that proved to be successful, and saw me get home without needing a trailer. Needless to say my respect and admiration for Phil on that day knew no bounds.

This willingness of Phil’s to assist other Club members, saw him being recognised by  being awarded with Life Membership of our Club.

Phil will be sorely missed by Club Members, and all who knew him.

by Ken Hartland, former president.


Red was Phil’s favourite colour by a mile. His Alfa Romeo cars were all crimson, bar one. During his Ducati-racing days he had red leathers and scarlet bike. His wind cheaters were red. His trademark baseball cap was red. Red drew Phil like a flower attracts a bee.

He was passionate about all aspects of motorcycles, whether racing, restoring, or collecting them. His specialty was Ducatis and he spent much of his working life employed as a mechanic for them.

As a young adult he battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a kind of blood cancer which is often fatal. Phil was rescued from a fatal outcome, but at the cost of permanent injury to his heart and lungs. He tragically lost his battle with longstanding complications on Sunday March 28th, at the relatively tender age of 62. Phil was a stalwart member of the Classic Owners Club. Only illness kept him away from meetings.

I first met Phil about 35 years ago through our mutual interest in motorcycles. At a Classic Owners’ display at the Birdwood Mill, we struck up a conversation about BSA Bantams and a lasting rapport was established. My friendship with Phil was long but my wife, Diana, met him 55 years ago, when he was a child of seven and her grandfather was teaching Phil’s sister, Ann, horse-riding skills. Diana’s father and Phil’s discovered their mutual interest in motorcycles and their respective sons became firm friends too. I had no idea, when I met my wife-to-be, that she was also a friend of Phil, but soon he and we were doing rides together and sharing pleasant meals.

Phil enjoyed competing, especially in motorcycle racing. He loved nothing more than speeding around a race-track. He was seriously successful in car and bike shows too. His cabinets groan under the weight of all his trophies, some for racing, most for his vehicles’ impressive presentation at shows.  

Phil was always ready to help out when that involved a vehicle. When I hit a road-block in my recent restoration of a Ducati 750GT, Phil was more than happy to spend days on end working with me in my shed to complete the project. On another occasion, Phil sold me an MV Agusta basket-case, then did the whole rebuild of its engine, for no charge, at my place.

Phil’s knowledge of Ducatis, and motorcycles generally, was awesome. It seemed limitless! A wealth of knowledge will have been lost with his passing. He will be greatly missed.

by Rob Elliott and Diana Waters