A 90-year-old grandfather was reunited with his old motorcycle that he used to ride with his late wife some 60 years after he was forced to sell it.
Discovering Bill Zandbelt’s motorcycle required a cross-continent hunt that also meant shipping it from his native Netherlands to his home of the past 60 years in Ontario, Canada.
Bill, who lives in Winchester, was the original owner of a DKW RT 175 S motorcycle, which he purchased new in 1956 and would ride around Lettele with his wife Wilma.
The bike gave Bill a sense of freedom, he said, and when he was not using it, he would lend it to his family to travel around the country.
In 1960, however, Bill emigrated to Canada in a move that forced him to sell his beloved motorcycle.
It wasn’t until years later, in 2017, that one of Bill’s brothers reached out to Bill’s son, Vince, to let him know that he had once again come across the bike.
Still in the Netherlands, the motorcycle had been fully restored, which made Vince even more enthusiastic to track down the owner.
After doing so, in late 2019, Vince had his cousins check out the bike for legitimacy – they then made him an offer and arranged for a one-month-long process to ship the bike from Rotterdam to Montreal.
It was then, on Bill’s 90th birthday, on May 9, that Vince decided to make the big reveal.
Having asked his nephew, Reid Zandbelt, to set up camera equipment, Vince showed Bill a presentation to walk him through the steps he’d taken to discover the bike.
Vince then showed his father a series of large canvases he had gotten printed – including a photograph of Bill and Wilma on the bike, and one with Bill, his brother and cousin riding, too.
It was then time for the big reveal, with Vince wheeling out “an old friend” and presenting his father with the pristine motorcycle.
As soon as Bill saw the bike his eyes welled up.
He then headed to inspect it, saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” in appreciation.
Reid, who was teary-eyed watching on, said: “Seeing my grandfather’s face light up like that immediately brought me to tears – luckily I just had to hold a camera and not say anything.
“I couldn’t imagine seeing an old vehicle after 60 years apart.
“I just can’t even comprehend the memories that would have come flooding back to him and just how special that moment was for him.
“While I was editing the video I could tell it was going to be powerful, since I was tearing up rewatching it.
“I think everyone that has seen the full video has been touched by it.
“You just can’t help but love the story and my grandfathers reaction.
“I’ve got comments and messages from people all over the world, the fact so many people have reached out has been a very gratifying experience.”