Motorcycle Classics Blogs > The Classic Life

Records Tumble In Bonhams’ $4-MILLION-plus Motorcycle Sale

by Landon Hall


Tags: Bonhams, Classic MotorCycle Show, Highest show total for any UK motorcycle sale,

Bonhams celebrated its best-ever motorcycle sale at the Classic MotorCycle Show in Stafford on April 27, 2008, achieving several world record prices in a storming sale that totaled $4,188,081 (£2,112,099). This is the highest ever sale total for any UK motorcycle sale.

The 1934 Brough Superior 996cc SS100 made top price of $330,152 (£166,500) – a world record price for the model and the highest price ever paid for a British motorcycle at auction. This beat the previous record of $324,402 (£163,600) for a 1954 AJS Porcupine also sold by Bonhams at Stafford in 2000.

The Brough Superior, a rare example of this legendary pre-war superbike, represented the JAP-engined SS100 in its ultimate form. Incorporating ‘two of everything’ (carburetors, magnetos, oil pumps), it was one of only six made to this specification in 1934 and retained its original frame, engine and registration mark. The machine formed part of the Murray Motorcycle Museum Collection in the Isle of Man from 1973 to 2005.

Other highlights included:

  • 1928 Coventry-Eagle 980cc Flying-8 – sold for $199,281 (£100,500). One of only a relative handful of overhead-valve-engined Flying-8s known to survive, this 1928 example was in highly original ‘oily rag’ condition and was offered for sale for the first time in 25 years. 
  • 1928 Windhoff 746cc Four – sold for $199,281 (£100,500). A rare survivor of this innovative German marque, this unique and imposing machine had undergone a complete restoration prior to the sale. 
  • 1953 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow – sold $116,396 (£58,700). This highly sought-after Vincent – owned by two brothers for the first 50 years of its life – was sold by the third owner who undertook a sympathetic restoration of the remarkably original machine. 
  • Vincent and Brough models were very much in demand and were 100% sold in the Bonhams’ sale. These included a 1950 Vincent 998cc Series-C Shadow ($81,497, or £41,100), the Vincent Owners Club Spares Company 2007 998cc Black Shadow ($68,410, or £34,500) and the 1935 Brough Superior 982cc SS80 ($72,772, or £36,700). 
  • The ex-Geoff Dodkin, Barcelona 24 Hours, Brands Hatch 500 miles, Isle of Man TT class-winning 1964 Velocette Thruxton 498cc Production Racing Motorcycle sold for $74,953 (£37,800). 

Two helmets sold for well above pre-sale estimates: the Barry Sheene Bell racing helmet, worn during the 1974 season and the first to carry his famous number 7, sold for $10,945 (£5,520), and the Premier racing helmet worn by Phil Read to win his final 500cc World Championship, sold for $12,314 (£6,210).

This was the first of four dedicated motorcycle sales at Bonhams this year, and launched the 2008 calendar in commanding fashion, with 88% of all lots selling. Ben Walker, Head of Bonhams’ Motorcycle Department said “We were naturally delighted with the results we achieved for our vendors. We attracted worldwide interest and the depth of competitive bidding on some motorcycles was extraordinary. We have a list of many customers still anxious to acquire various models and this all bodes well for the special single owner collections that Bonhams will be handling later this year: The Professor Fritz Ehn Museum Collection in June and the Brian Verrall Collection in September.”

All conversions as of April 28, when £1 = $1.9829.