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Vintage Motorcycle Auctions and Results

Rare Bikes Head to Auction at Bonhams' 2017 Stafford Sale

Freddie Firth Velocette

Ex-Freddie Firth 1949 World Championship-winning Velocette at Bonhams' 2017 Stafford Sale. Photos courtesy Bonhams Auctions.

Rarity rules the day at this year’s annual Stafford Sale, Sunday, April 23, with Bonhams set to auction a bevy of extremely rare and valuable vintage motorcycles. Included in this year’s sale are no less than a 1973 MV Agusta 750S (estimated hammer price, $77,000-$220,000), a 1937 Matchless 1,000cc Model X ($33,000-$42,000), a 1930 Brough Superior 680 ($130,000-$180,000), a fantastic barn find 1949 Vincent White Shadow ($64,000-$77,000) and the works 1948 Velocette KTT 348cc double overhead cam single that Freddie Firth rode to victory in the 1949 World Championship and the 1948 and 1949 Isle of Man Junior TT ($150,000-$190,000). Check out full auction details at Bonhams.

1949 Vincent White Shadow

Barn find 1949 Vincent is one of only 16 White Shadows made.

Project 1970 Honda CB350 Sells for $5,500 at Bonhams’ Vegas Auction

 

The Motorcycle Classics 1970 Honda CB350 sold for $5,500 at Bonhams. Photo by the Motorcycle Classics staff

As it usually does, the annual Las Vegas classic motorcycle auctions yielded more than a few surprises. The biggest sale of the January event was over at Mecum, where, underscoring increasing interest in original condition machines, a 1912 Henderson Four sold for a stunning $490,000, a price that climbs to well over $500,000 once the buyer’s fee, typically 5-10 percent, is added. Bonham’s top sale of the event was a 1914 Feilbach 10 horsepower Limited that sold for $195,000. Assembled from leftover parts following the factory’s 1914 closure, it was owned by the Feilbach family until the 1980s, giving it a very unique history.

Mecum reported a 92 percent sell-through, while Bonhams reported 70 percent. And while Mecum was clearly the big winner in terms of total dollars — a reported $13.7 million versus an estimated $4 million at Bonhams — those numbers don’t tell the full story, as Mecum’s four-day event rolled some 1,000 bikes across the block versus some 240 at Bonhams. Mecum’s top 10 sellers achieved a combined $1,466,000, while Bonhams’ top 10 achieved a combined $1,151,000, punctuating the impact of the Henderson sale at Mecum, where the next highest sale was $150,000 — for another Henderson, this time a restored 1913 Four. The next highest sale at Bonhams — also at $150,000 — was a 1955 Vincent Series D Black Knight. On the other end of the spectrum, at Mecum somebody got a very nice 1973 Suzuki Titan T500 for $1,700, while at Bonhams somebody paid similar money for a fantastic 1974 Honda CR125 Elsinore equipped with quality performance modifications you couldn’t possibly duplicate for the selling price.

Yet in our opinion the biggest sale of the event was the $5,500 achieved for the Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350, to our knowledge the highest price ever paid for a 1970 Honda CB350. And while we’d argue that it wasn’t your average CB350, built to be a daily rider with upgrades like electronic ignition, improved suspension and more, in this case the winning bid wasn’t all about the bike.

Interest in the Honda was high in no small part thanks to our promise to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Rider Benevolent Fund, which exists to aid injured riders. We were immeasurably aided in our effort thanks to Bonhams, which graciously offered to forego normal selling fees to ensure that all the proceeds from the sale went to AHRMA, and Motorcycle Shippers  who shipped the bike to Vegas and Federal Motorcycle Transport who shipped the bike free of charge to its new owner. The interest our Honda generated was more than a little satisfying, and we were glad for the opportunity to give something tangible back to the vintage motorcycle community. MC

1980 Ducati 900SS at Bonhams' 2017 Vegas Auction

1980 Ducati 900SS

Restored 1980 Ducati 900SS is projected to sell for $38,000-$42,000. Photos courtesy Bonhams Auctions.

Italian classics continue to rise in value, with once affordable exotica increasingly fetching eye-watering money. Case in point is this beautiful 1980 Ducati 900SS scheduled to go on the block at Bonhams’ Las Vegas auction Thursday. Bonhams’ pre-sale estimate on this bike, fully restored with 28,031 miles showing on the clock, is $38,000-$42,000. Likewise, an earlier 1975 750SS is expected to fetch $40,000-$45,000, while a coveted 1974 750SS “green frame” — rattled canned red by an owner in the 1970s and needing recommissioning — is expected to bid to $65,000-$85,000.

1975 Ducati 750SS

This 1975 Ducati 750SS is expected to bring $40,000-$45,000 at Bonhams’ 2017 Las Vegas auction.

1974 Ducati 750SS green frame

A repainted 1974 Ducati 750SS “green frame” needing work is expected to bring $65,000-$85,000.

Bonhams is also auctioning the Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350, the 1970 Honda we brought back to life in 2016. That bike is projected to sell for $5,000-$7,000, which, if it does, would be something of a record for the model. We’re hoping it does in fact draw that kind of money, because 100 percent of the sale proceeds are going to the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Rider Benevolent Fund, which supports AHRMA racers unfortunate enough to crash during a race, supplying needed cash for medical bills.

Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350

Bonhams’ presale estimate on our 1970 Honda CB350 is $5,000-$7,000. Photo by Richard Backus.

Mecum's 2017 Las Vegas Auction: 1977 Harley-Davidson MX250

Harley-Davidson MX250

This Harley-Davidson MX250 is probably the most original youll find, and will be offered at Mecum’s Las Vegas auction, Jan. 25-28. Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions.

Harley-Davidson isn’t particularly known for dirt bikes, but at one time the Bar and Shield folks put serious effort into developing seriously competent offroad machines. Leaning on its Italian division, Aermacchi, in 1977 Harley came up with the MX250, a full-on competition machine that took on the best and won.

Unfortunately, it didn’t win enough to satisfy the brass in Milwaukee, so after two short years of production the MX250 was dropped, with fewer than 1,000 believed built between 1977 and 1978. Mecum says this first-year bike, from a major East Coast collection, is probably the most original MX250 extant. Unraced, unabused and, Mecum says, nearly unused, it’s a time warp machine in essentially as-new condition. Mecum doesn’t say what they think the MX250 will bring, and with survivors thin on the ground it’s hard to predict — but we don’t expect it to go cheap. For reference, a supposed zero-mile MX250 failed to sell on eBay for $14,000 a few years back, while another MX250 was recently offered privately for $9,000.

Legendary American Motorcycle from The Wheels Through Time Museum to be Auctioned by Bonhams

1937 Crocker Small Tank

Bonhams is thrilled to announce the addition of another rare motorcycle to be offered alongside the already impressive list of rarities at its annual Las Vegas auction.

The 1937 Crocker Small Tank — serial number 36-61-8 — comes from the renowned collection of Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time Museum.

Called as the “Duesenberg of motorcycles,” Crocker is the definitive American motorcycle — handmade, powerful and fast. Very much a Hollywood “hot rod” bike, Crocker was created in and shaped by the culture of pre-WWII Los Angeles, California, by former Indian distributor Al Crocker. When it debuted in 1936, the upstart founder brazenly challenged world dominators Harley-Davidson, boasting of superior technology, performance, handling and raw power. As the story goes, Al Crocker famously advertised that if any of his bikes were ever beaten by a stock Harley, he would refund the owner’s money. No refunds were ever requested.

As a bespoke machine, each Crocker was made to the specifications of its buyer. This expensive and time-intensive approach meant that quality remained high but production output low. Total Crocker numbers never exceeded more than 125 units before World War II forced the firm’s closure, and today only around 50 of those units are accounted for, making Crocker motorcycles extremely rare.

After fading into relative obscurity for half a century, two major events transpired that vaulted Crocker to the consciousness of collectors worldwide. First, the Guggenheim Museum’s groundbreaking 1998 exhibit The Art of the Motorcycle prominently featured a Crocker (owned by famed auto collector Otis Chandler). Then, the seminal 2006 Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance presented Crocker as a featured marque with a record-breaking 20 examples on display. The attention provided by these two events — highlighting the marque’s unique history, success and rarity — suddenly made Crocker one of the most desirable and expensive motorcycles in the world.

What makes Crocker #8 even more special is the fact that this is one of the believed seven surviving Crockers constructed with the famous hemispherical heads. Furthermore, this is the earliest made Crocker to ever be offered at public sale. Estimate is $500,000-$600,000.

Also from the Wheels Through Time Museum are a further five pre-war American motorcycles:
• 1910 Harley-Davidson Model 6A
• 1914 Excelsior Model 7C
• 1915 Harley-Davidson 11F
• 1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead
• 1938 Harley-Davidson WLDR

Bonhams’ seventh annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction will take place Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

For more information about the consignments from the Wheels Through Time Museum, or any of the other exceptional vintage and classic motorcycles to be offered, visit bonhams.com/vegas.

Ultra Rare Factory One-Off Indian-Vincent Prototype to be Offered

1949 Indian-Vincent prototype

Bonhams is very pleased to announce the consignment of a very rare and historically significant motorcycle: the 1949 Indian-Vincent Factory Prototype.

In 1948 the manager of Indian Motorcycles, Ralph Rogers, and the director of Vincent HRD, Philip Vincent, agreed on a joint venture to manufacture and sell a hybridization of their machines to the American market. Two prototypes were created as a result: the better known Vindian — essentially an Indian Chief with Vincent motor, and the Indian-Vincent — essentially a specially badged Vincent Rapide with some Indian components.

Both machines were one-off designs created at Vincent’s factory in Stevenage, England, from two Chiefs shipped over from Indian’s Springfield, Massachusetts, factory. Unfortunately, neither prototype was put into production before Indian’s demise just a few years later.

The singular Indian-Vincent was the exceptionally fast and desirable Series C Rapide with a few Indian components aimed at U.S. riders, such as high handlebars, additional lights, crashbars and converted left-side gearshift. The prototype was personally taken by Phil Vincent later that year to Australia, where it has remained most its life.

Now this genuine, fully VOC-documented, one-of-one motorcycle representing two of the greatest names in motorcycling history will be offered for the first time at public auction. It carries an estimate of $250,000-$300,000.

Just as newsworthy, the Indian-Vincent is one of what is quite possibly a record number of motorcycles from the Vincent marque to be offered in one sale. In all, 16 Vincents have been consigned with the following models of various vintage and specification represented: Comet, Rapide, Black Shadow, Black Prince and Black Knight.

“It’s exciting to have so many examples in one auction,” says Nick Smith, Bonhams’ US Head of Motorcycles. “Vincent is one of the most respected and sought after names in the world of collectors’ motorcycles and to have this unprecedented assembly — not to mention being selected to represent the legendary prototype — is just phenomenal. It’s an incredible opportunity for Vincent aficionados.”

Bonhams’ seventh annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction will take place Thursday, Jan. 26 at the Rio Hotel & Casino. For more information, visit bonhams.com/vegas.

Bonhams Announces the Robert White Collection

Bonhams 

Photo courtesy Bonhams 

The collection contains a vast treasure trove of collectible mechanical delights worth more than £2 million, including motorcycles, motor cars, vintage Leica cameras, motoring mascots, Lalique, and several rare wristwatches.

Proceeds from the sale of this incredible collection will be used to build new cancer facilities at Poole and Dorset County hospitals, benefiting patients across the whole of the country.

“Robert White was a great man and an enthusiast of all things mechanical. The sale is a showcase of his life’s passion, with more than 500 lots set to raise more than £2 million for charity,” said Malcolm Barber, Bonhams Co-Chairman. “The collection is the result of a life’s passion for photography – Robert was the founder of one of the UK’s leading photographic retailers – and his adoration for motorcycles. We’re delighted to be able to offer this for sale, and for such a great charitable cause.”

It was his love of motorcycles that first connected Robert White his close friend and confidant, the comedian and TV host, Jay Leno.

“They say that you should never be possessed by your possessions; but Robert took more pleasure from his possessions than any man I have ever met,” said Leno. “The evening ritual of winding his George Daniels watch, for example, was an active delight to him as an opportunity to take pleasure in its mechanism.”

Bonhams 

Robert White riding his Gilera 500cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle recreation at the 2006 Southern 100.
The model is now offered at an estimate of £50,000-60,000.

Photo courtesy Bonhams

The friends bonded over a love of Brough Superior motorcycles, and before Robert died in 2015, he sold his Brough Superiors to Leno. The funds from the Brough Superiors have been used to support the creation of a brand new cancer treatment centre at Dorset County Hospital and new diagnostic facilities at Poole Hospital, both overseen by the latter’s Dorset Cancer Centre.

Leno said: “We spent time together in England before he died. He didn’t feel sorry for himself or ‘woe-is-me’. He realistically faced up to his position and decided he wanted to give something back to the people in Poole Hospital who had helped him with his illness.”

“Robert White loved his motorcycles, and this is no more evident than when we look at the incredible machines he had in his collection,” said Ben Walker, Bonhams Head of Motorcycles. “Robert had his own personal motoring museum and workshop where he took great pleasure in showing people his carefully curated items. He was a true enthusiast who appreciated each and every part of these exhilarating machines.

Motorcycles featured in the collection include:
• c.1929 Megola 640cc Touring Model, estimated at £120,000-140,000
• MV Agusta 500cc 3-Cylinder Grand Prix recreation, estimate £80,000-100,000
• MV Agusta 500cc 4-Cylinder Grand Prix recreation, estimate £70,000-90,0000
• 1974 Ducati 750SS, estimated at £60,000-70,000

Robert White

Robert White (1953-2015) was the founder of one of the UK’s leading photographic retailers, having started in business with a small camera shop in Poole, where he was born.

An astute and dedicated businessman, Robert White’s success enabled him to indulge a passion for collecting machines and objects that embodied the finest design and engineering. He loved to ride motorcycles and drive fast cars. He learned to fly and bought a vintage Boeing-Stearman bi-plane to travel round Britain.

He was described by a close friend as: “A modest person who liked the best of what he liked, but was never one for designer clothes and frippery, leaves a legacy that will outlast all of us. The life of Robert will help countless people he has never met. Robert’s illness taught him what is important, and he was in a self-made position to make a life-changing difference.”

Robert White died of cancer in 2015. His consultant oncologist, Dr. Mike Bayne, said: “The impact that Mr. White’s incredible generosity will have to patients facing cancer in Dorset cannot be overstated.

“This lasting legacy will continue to benefit patients and their families for years to come, enabling the people of Dorset to receive the very latest and most effective diagnoses and treatments for a range of cancers, and supporting our skilled clinicians and nursing teams to be among the most advanced in the country. Robert White will forever be associated with advances in cancer care in the county, and on behalf of our patients I would like to express our heartfelt thanks.”

Click here for full auction details.