Vintage Motorcycle Auctions and Results

2020 Mecum and Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Auctions

“Greenie,” the famous Knucklehead, will go across the block at the Mecum auction in January.

2020 Las Vegas auctions

Auction houses Mecum and Bonhams are busy preparing for the 2020 Las Vegas motorcycle auctions.

Mecum will return with another massive portfolio of bikes, with a reported 1,750 machines scheduled to go under the hammer during their six-day mega-auction, Jan. 21-26, at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa. Headlining the Mecum auction are eight individual collections, including The Hamilton Triumph Collection, The Stephen Ross Estate Collection, The Northwest 100 and more. The Northwest 100 is a particularly interesting group of 100 rare and desirable vintage Honda motorcycles, collected over the years by Brown. M. Maloney. Nearly all of the 100 bikes are in top, unrestored condition.

Also on auction will be the famous “Greenie” 1940 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead. Formerly part of the Wayne “Pappy” Pierce collection, it’s lauded as arguably the finest original paint 1940 Knucklehead in the world. Once thought to be an incorrect or customized bike, the current owner searched for a year and a half to gather the original documentation to prove that it is an original machine, ordered from the factory with Hollywood Green paint, nickel plating instead of chrome, and other extras.

The ex-Steve McQueen 1938 Triumph 5T Speed Twin sold for $175,500 including premium at the 2019 Bonhams auction in Las Vegas.

Bonhams’ one-day auction takes place at noon on Thursday, Jan. 23, at a new location this year: Caesars Entertainment Studios, located behind Bally’s, just off the famous strip. This new location offers more space and better accessibility than its prior location, along with plenty of parking. As always, an impressive selection of collectors’ motorcycles of every vintage is expected to be offered at this internationally attended sale.

“If there was ever an auction at which to offer the world’s best motorcycles, this is it,” says Craig Mallery, Bonhams Motorcycle Specialist. “It was here in Las Vegas where we set the world auction record for the most valuable motorcycle ever sold — the 1951 Vincent Black Lightning for nearly $1 million.”

Bonhams is also excited to announce a new member of the West Coast Motorcycle Department, Mathieu Guyot-Sionnest. A native of Paris, France, and a lifelong motoring aficionado, Mathieu is a classic car and motorcycle racer, racing with AHRMA and WERA.

Morbidelli Motorcycles at the Autumn Stafford Sale

A look down just one row of motorcycles in the famed Morbidelli Motorcycle Museum in Pesaro, Italy.

Morbidellis and more at the Stafford auction

Comprising approximately 300 motorcycles, and representing every decade of the 20th century, this important collection was built up by the museum’s founder, motorcycle manufacturer and Grand Prix boss Giancarlo Morbidelli, over a period of 40 years. The auctioning of the Morbidelli Motorcycle Museum will take place at Bonhams’ annual Autumn Stafford Sale, Oct. 18-20, 2019, in Stafford, England.

In fact, the size of the collection will extend the Autumn sale. “This is the largest single collection to be sold by Bonhams and as such means that we will extend our Autumn sale to three days for the first time. It really will be a unique opportunity for motorcycle collectors and enthusiasts from across the globe to bid for some truly special lots,” says Ben Walker, International Department Director for Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycles.

Highlights of the collection include two examples from the Morbidelli Grand Prix racing motorcycle collection. First is the 1974 125cc Morbidelli ridden by the great Angel Nieto to second place in that year’s Spanish and German Grand Prix. The second Morbidelli bike to go under the hammer is a 250cc machine ridden by 15-time Grand Prix world champion Giacomo Agostini, who rode for the team during its golden period in 1976, gaining a second place at Misano.

Other notable lots of the Morbidelli Collection include the 1964 Benelli 250 Grand Prix racing motorcycle, ridden and signed by two-time world champion Tarquino Provini, and a 1934 Benelli 175cc Bialbero ridden by Dorino Serfini, one of only three in the world.  Also up for auction will be the 1964 Ducati 125cc 4-cylinder Grand Prix racing motorcycle. See more of their collection on their website. MC

Motos at Rétromobile 2019

Gnome et Rhône
One of the featured marques was Gnome et Rhône. A similar example like this was ridden from Paris to Moscow.

More than 132,000 people attended the 44th year of Rétromobile at the Paris Expo Port de Versailles convention center during the first week of February. Numerous automobile, motorcycle and memorabilia dealers, as well as many clubs, gathered to celebrate “Les Anciens.” Over 1,000 vehicles were on display in an area encompassing 775,000 square feet.

Cabin Fever also infects many other parts of the world in January and February. In Europe, Rétromobile is the best way to work on a cure! Four auctions, including a day-long auction of only MV Agustas, were part of the tonic. Also, there was a celebration of 100th anniversary of the Gnome et Rhône motorcycle. Their technology dates back to the turn of the 20th century when the French were one of the leading manufacturers of aircraft. Their innovative motorcycle radial engine had a fixed crank that spun the cylinders around, and their boxer engines were also quite robust. One was used in the '30s in an endurance ride from Paris, France, to Moscow, Russia. They also used other innovations such as pressed steel frames which BMW, NSU and Honda would later utilize. Sadly, the Gnome et Rhône motorcycle did not survive World War II.

Rétromobile 2019 had an incredible display of Bédélia cycle cars, managing to find 14 of the 19 in existence. The Bédélias were once used for anything from ambulances to racers and will also be featured in a forthcoming event at Montlhery Vintage Festival in May.

Bedelia automobile
This Bédélia will be featured at the Vintage Revival in Montlhery, France, in May. Note the JAP single OHV engine.

This year there were several dedicated sections for vending motorcycles. One was for motorcycles only, while another new section offered vehicles (two-, three- and four-wheeled) for under 25,000 euros, which is a great way to attract future collectors who can’t afford the seven-figure cars some dealers were offering. Here you can also see the strong trend for later Japanese bikes.

On Saturday, a large MV collection was auctioned by Artcurial, a French company headquartered in Paris. On offer was an eclectic collection of bikes from late '40s, from tiddlers to prototypical fuel injection models that showed how far we’ve come in induction systems. There were also some race replicas as well as real pukka racers.

Walking out in the late afternoon with frost on my breath, I could see a convention center parking lot filled with new and vintage motorcycles that were ridden to this event. Such is the enthusiasm in Europe for motorcycles.

Kawasaki motorcycles

Kawasaki motorcycles
A new feature this year was the vehicles under 25,000-euro section as well as a motorcycles for sale by owner section.

125 Mono Albero
This 125 Monoalbero “single cam” sold for 20,000 euros on the hammer.

Red MV Agustas
A sea of red MVs!

Crockers Top Vegas Sales

1925 BMW R37 racer

A 1925 BMW R37 racer from the MC Collection sold for $220,000 at Mecum. Photos by Robert Smith.

A 1939 Crocker “Big Tank” from the Stockholm, Sweden MC Collection took top price at $704,000 (including premium) at the Mecum Las Vegas motorcycle auctions, Jan. 22-27. Runner-up was another Crocker, this time a “Small Tank” from 1937 at $423,500. Top British bike was an early Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport from 1925, which fetched $357,500. Of the top 10 selling bikes at Mecum, four were 4-cylinder machines: a 1912 Henderson Model A at $302,500; a 1913 Pierce at $192,500; 1923 Ace at $176,000; and a 1915 Henderson Model D at $170,500. Top Harley price was $143,000 for a 1928 JDH, and top Indian was a 1905 Camelback at $104,500.

1968 Münch 4TT Mammut

One of two on offer in Las Vegas, this 1968 Münch 4TT Mammut sold for $77,000 at Mecum.

The Crocker Big Tank was part of a consignment of 235 motorcycles from the MC Collection of Stockholm, Sweden. The total sales value of the collection, including premium, was $10.5 million.

1912 Henderson Model A

Top-priced 4-cylinder bike was Mecum’s 1912 Henderson Model A at $302,000.

Bonhams also held their motorcycle auction in Las Vegas on Jan. 24. Top price was expected for the ex-Hans Stärkle 1949 Vincent Black Lightning race bike, with over $360,000 anticipated. Bidding stalled at $285,000. One of only 67 built, a “never raced” Ducati Supermono fetched $115,000, while a series C Black Shadow sold for $95,450. With the McQueen effect in full force, the King of Cool’s otherwise unremarkable 1938 Triumph Speed Twin sold for $175,500. (An unattributed ’38 Speed Twin also sold — for $9,200.)

1974 Münch TTS

Bonhams’ 1974 Münch TTS sold for $112,000.

Both Mecum and Bonhams offered examples of Friedel Münch’s monstrous Mammut motorcycle. Mecum’s 1968 4TT fetched $77,000, while Bonhams’ 1974 TTS-E sold for $112,000. Also offered by both auction houses were examples of Laverda’s SFC750 production racers. The Mecum SFC sold for $88,000, while Bonhams’ was bid up to just $30,000 — perhaps because it was missing its homologation tag. (It was reported to have sold later for $38,000.) Two green-frame Ducati 750 Super Sports were on offer at Mecum: one sold for $90,000, while the other — unrestored and appropriately patinated — made $247,500. Other Ducati and MV Agusta prices were similarly varied: Mike Hailwood Replicas sold from $13,250 to $49,500, and Agusta 750s fetched from $49,500 to $137,500. Seven Guzzi singles were on offer at Mecum, and ranged from $8,250 for a 1955 250 Airone to $82,500 for a 1925 CV2 racer. A rare 1931 Sport 15 sold for $55,000.

Ex-McQueen 1938 Triumph Speed Twin

Hammer falls on the ex-McQueen 1938 Triumph Speed Twin at Bonhams for $155,000.

Two of Dan Smith’s hand-crafted motorcycles — both previously featured in Motorcycle Classics — went under the hammer at Mecum. The 1936 500cc AJS V-4 sold for $85,250 while the 1939 Velocette Roarer was unsold at $70,000.

1931 500cc Moto Guzzi Sport 15

This 1931 500cc Moto Guzzi Sport 15 fetched $55,000 at Mecum.

A landmark price was achieved for one of Honda’s iconic road/race bikes, with a “zero miles” 1990 RC30/VFR750R selling at $100,000. Bargain hunters picked up a 1983 Laverda RGS for $4,400 and a 1975 Moto Morini 3-1/2 Sport for just $3,300.

1939 Crocker “Big Tank”

Top seller in Las Vegas at $704,000 was a 1939 Crocker “Big Tank” from the MC Collection.

Steve McQueen Triumph Sets Record at Bonhams Vegas Auction

The Steve McQueen Triumph at auction

Sale of collectors’ motorcycles achieves nearly $1.5 million. Photo courtesy Bonhams.

On Jan. 24, 2019, at the Rio Hotel & Casino, Bonhams’ annual Las Vegas auction saw the 1938 Triumph 5T Speed Twin formerly owned by Steve McQueen sell for $175,500. When the hammer fell and the King of Cool’s ride set a new world auction record, the audience erupted in cheers and applause.

Another highlight was the 1993 Ducati Supermono, one of just 67 made, that was bought for $115,000, as well as the 1974 Munch Mammoth TTS, known as the world’s first superbike, that made $112,000. Another crowd favorite was the collection of six 1971 Honda Motorsport models — the full range of that model-year offered as one lot — that was purchased by a young lady from France, much to the delight of attendees.

Said Craig Mallery of Bonhams’ US Motorcycle Department, “We had a very impressive selection of approximately 125 rare, uncommon and high-quality motorcycles on offer this year. It’s a selective market at the moment and while some of our motorcycles didn’t meet reserve, there were many exceptional sales.”

For complete results, please visit For more information about our highly anticipated Grand Palais sale in Paris next week, visit

The King of Cool's Vincent Comet

1953 Vincent Series C Comet

Briefly owned by legendary film star and motorcycle enthusiast Steve McQueen, this 1953 Vincent Series C Comet will be offered at Bonhams’ Oct. 6, 2018, auction at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. All photos by Somer Hooker.

One day back in the 1970s, I was talking with the late Gene Aucott, who was the first Vincent dealer in the U.S. Gene allowed that he had been contacted by Steve McQueen in regards to a Vincent he had purchased. Gene encouraged him to attend a rally and get more involved. Sadly, soon thereafter, McQueen developed cancer and passed away in 1980. When his estate sale was held, there was no Comet there.

The Comet

In 1987, I was at the Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s big meet in Davenport, Iowa, where I came upon Indian four expert and aficionado Earl Chalfant’s table. I happened to notice a picture of a Vincent Comet there. Of course, I inquired, and Earl told me he had traded Steve McQueen for it in the 1970s! It was then that he told me “the rest of the story.”

McQueen had gone into a vintage bike dealer in the U.K., where he spotted an early Brough Superior SS-80 and the Vincent Comet, with a sidecar on it. He bought both bikes, and with no interest in the sidecar he asked them to remove it.

There were two things about the Vincent that McQueen did not realize: First, the forks were in the wrong position; and two, one of the frame numbers was wrong for a Comet. When it arrived in California, McQueen took it for a ride and found the handling to be atrocious, so he took it to Bob Stark’s Indian shop in California and asked him to sell it. Chalfant saw the Comet at Stark’s and offered a 1939 Indian Chief in trade (later sold at McQueen’s estate sale, Lot No. 648); McQueen accepted and they traded bikes.

Memo from Robert Stark

A 1988 memo from Indian specialist and McQueen friend Robert Stark at Starklite Cycle detailing McQueen’s trade of the 1953 Vincent Comet for Earl Chalfant’s 1939 Indian Chief.

Later, Chalfant took the Comet to an antique motorcycle club meet and was riding it around when he was stopped by a couple of Vincent owners who said, “Are you trying to kill yourself?” They pointed out that the Girdraulic forks were adjusted for the sidecar position, which is why it handled poorly, and they helped him change the setting on the spot. Sadly, neither McQueen nor the dealer who sold him the bike ever appreciated how well the Vincent’s Girdraulic fork could work.

I wound up buying the Comet from Chalfant, and later sold it to a gentleman in Canada. He kept it in his dining room until 2002, but when his health began to fail he contacted me about selling it. I was able to hook him up with a museum, where it resided until 2016 when it was offered back to me when they were doing a collection rebalancing.

The Brough Superior was gifted by McQueen to Kenny Howard, aka “Von Dutch.” It changed hands from Dutch and then was later sold at a Gooding sale in 2011 at Pebble Beach (Lot No. 133). Part of the vetting was the letter from Earl Chalfant. The Brough was again sold by Gooding in 2018, again at their Pebble Beach sale.

The McQueen Comet will be featured at Bonhams’ upcoming auction at the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. Also on offer will be the second-ever Vincent Black Lightning and another McQueen bike, the 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross that McQueen owned and rode in Bruce Brown’s legendary film, On Any Sunday.

1953 Vincent Series C Comet

Prices for Series C single-cylinder Vincent Comets have historically lagged far behind the twin-cylinder C Rapides or Black Shadows, but this ex-Steve McQueen Comet will likely command a premium when it sells at Bonhams’ Barber auction Oct. 6, 2018.

John Lennon's 1969 Honda Z50A Sells for World Record Price

John Lennon's 1969 Honda Z50A

Motorcycle history was made by H&H Classics at the National Motorcycle Museum in England on March 4, 2018, when the company sold two iconic bikes for new world record prices.

H&H’s lineup of 170 bikes included a number of gems that had the place heaving despite a week of atrocious weather that had kept people at home. The biking fraternity turned up in strength to bid for John Lennon’s 1969 HondaZ50A "Monkeybike" which made $79,640.

There was huge excitement for the John Lennon Monkey-Trail bike XUC 91H when its turn came to go under the hammer.

John Lennon used the bike as a fun way of getting around his Tittenhurst Park estate in Surrey, where he lived from 1969 to 1971. Prior to the sale H&H Classics estimated that the bike would sell for $40,000 plus. It has now become the highest priced Monkeybike sold at auction.

Mark Bryan, Head of Sales for H&H Classics Motorcycle Department, said: “Naturally we were thrilled to be entrusted with the marketing and sale of this bike, given its extraordinary provenance. So to achieve this price is hugely satisfying.”

The Honda Monkey/Trail Bike XUC 91H was acquired by John Harington from Henry Graham, of Hook Hampshire, who at the time was owner of a business in Farnborough Hampshire — Motor Cycle City in around 1971.

Henry Graham said that he had bought the motorbike from John Lennon, who was living at the time at Tittenhurst Park in Sunningdale, near Ascot Berkshire.

John Harington, the current seller, had kept the bike for the past 47 years, since buying it from Mr Graham and had displayed it at various events and shows throughout that time.

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