The Eddie Rickenbacker’s Motorcycle Collection Heads to Auction

| 6/12/2012 1:32:56 PM

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Rickenbacker's bar and grill, San Francisco 
Motorcycles hanging from the ceiling of Eddie Rickenbacker's bar and grill are heading to auction. 

The motorcycles hanging from the ceiling as adornments in the famous San Francisco bar and grill, Eddie Rickenbacker’s, will be auctioned by the world’s leading auctioneer of motorcycles, Bonhams this August at Quail Lodge in Carmel, Calif. 

Named after the Great World War flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient Eddie Rickenbacker, the watering hole and eatery was established by the eccentric and colorful Norman Hobday, a.k.a. Henry Africa, himself either an army veteran, former merchant marine, or escaped Legionnaire, depending upon which version is believed.

Hobday was renowned for his creation of the fern bar concept and invention of the Lemon Drop Martini. He wasn’t a motorcycle aficionado but after acquiring an old Indian during a search for antiques and then displaying in it his bar, he realized it brought lots of attention and subsequently acquired others. Soon Eddie Rickenbacker’s became known more for its décor – comprised of old motorcycles, toy trains and antique lamps – than its fare. Over the years Hobday’s collection grew to 30 vintage machines of various years, makes and models, each displayed either in the venue’s windows or dangled from its ceiling.

With the passing of Hobday last year, the collection of motorcycles from his San Francisco landmark has been entrusted to Bonhams, who will represent it at auction during the Pebble Beach Automotive Week this coming August.

Most of the motorcycles are American marques – Cleveland, Excelsior, Harley-Davidson, Henderson, Indian, Reading, however there are many British and European makes as well – Ariel, Monark, Moto Guzzi, Motosacoche, New Imperial, Nimbus, Peugeot and Triumph, among others.