Highlights and notes
Some of the 174 classic bikes that were offered at the 2009 Daytona Antique and Classic Motorcycle Auction.
The 22nd annual Daytona Antique and Classic Motorcycle Auction and Vintage Bike Meet, held March 7, marked a turning point, as Jerry Wood, who has run the auction from the beginning, is handing over ownership to Glenn Bator of Bator International. A California classic bike dealer and event organizer, Glenn has the experience to take the Daytona auction to the next level.
The main auction started 11 a.m. Saturday, and 95 motorcycles were sold in about 10 hours. Total sales without buyers’ premiums were $772,060, only marginally down from last year’s $790,349, suggesting the down economy hasn’t significantly dampened interest in the classic motorcycle market. You can see full details on the Bator Auctions website (www.BatorAuctions.com) but here are a few highlights and notes on condition and price.
Lot 7 — 1947 Whizzer with Schwinn frame, $1,900: Original paint, nice patina and running. I didn’t plan to buy a Whizzer, but sometimes early lots sell cheap. It seems to take a little while for some bidders to get warmed up; perhaps that’s why this cute old Whizzer didn’t even break $2,000.
Lot 16 — 1961 Triumph TR6 Custom, $4,400: Nice period custom built in 1964, old California black license plate. This bike really appealed to me; the peanut tank, Bates megaphones, clubman-style seat and orange paint all screamed “Kaliforina Kustom.” Lots of chrome and polished aluminum made this bike stand out as a cool bike from the early 1960s. I wish I had bid higher; $4,400 was a bargain.
Lot 22 — 1978 Benelli Sei, $3,750: 9,200 miles. The big 6-cylinder Benelli. It had original paint but non-stock exhaust. Condition was average for its age with some leaking gaskets. A very reasonable price for a bike that will always be considered an Italian exotic, although much work needs to be done before this bike meets its potential.
Lot 35 — 1972 Honda CL 350, $3,100: 5,300 miles, near mint condition, excellent original chrome and paint showing light corrosion on spokes and shocks. This bike fetched a good price because of its “minty” condition. Although not as collectible as 1969 and earlier 450 and 305 Hondas, I think it was a good deal for buyer and seller alike.
Lot 44 — 1977 H-D XLCR, $8,250: 9,300 miles, good condition. These XLCRs show up frequently at auctions. They were a styling milestone for Harley Davidson but not very good sellers when new. If you ever rode one you would know why — a café racer that is slow, heavy and ill handling. On the other hand, they do have limited collector appeal and have been slowly rising in price at about the rate of inflation.
Lot 46A — 1949 Triumph Speed Twin, $14,500: Some age on a less than perfect restoration, aging chrome and numerous paint chips. Seller stated “concours condition” — buyer beware!
Lot 58A — 1973 Norton 850 Commando, $5,000: 14,000 miles, Boyer ignition, good chrome, decent paint except for tape pinstripes. A little under the money if the bike runs as good as it looks.
Lot 59 — 1940 Indian 4 with sidecar, $39,500: Sidecar appeared to be mostly fiberglass, and yellow was not a good color choice. The polished engine cases detracted but $39,500 is at least $10,000 under the money for any decent Indian 4; the sidecar could be considered free at this price. Very well bought.
Lot 61A — 1974 BMW R90S, $4,500: 28,000 miles. Lester wheels, nice repaint a shade off from original, BMW tool kit under seat. This is the one I bought. Problems with clutch on first ride but still a bargain.
Lot 66 — 1949 Vincent Rapide with Hollandia sidecar, $45,000: Proper Amal 276 carbs, rare left side kicker to accommodate sidecar, nice paint and chrome. Appeared to be a very honest early C series that might need a little finesse to bring it back from storage. A good deal and top sale of the day.
Lot 67 — 1951 Egli Vincent Comet, $13,500: Recent restoration or newly built Egli replica, I’m not sure, but either way a bargain.
Nothing gets the blood flowing like bidding on a motorcycle you might end up owning. Selling at an auction can be equally exciting and a little bit scary. No one knows for sure what any bike will bring on any day, so you must be a bit of a gambler and a bit of an optimist. I was both buyer and seller at the 2009 Daytona auction, and I feel satisfied with the results on both ends. This may not always be the case; no matter how reputable the auction company, as with any transaction, it’s buyer beware.
Auction companies take consignments from individuals. The descriptions of bikes in their catalog rely on information provided by owners. This means a description is only as accurate as an owner deems necessary. Reputable auction companies won’t tolerate misrepresentation, but in many cases it’s beyond the auction house’s ability to verify information accuracy. The point? If you’re buying a motorcycle at auction, judge the bike with your own eyes, talk to the owner if possible and do not hesitate to ask the auction company questions about any detail of the bike.
Auction companies only profit if they have satisfied repeat customers, so they will be happy to help you understand the details of a bike you’re interested in. If you’re making a telephone or Internet bid you may want to leave a cushion in your offered price to take care of unexpected or undisclosed defects. The 1974 BMW R90S I bought this year had a faulty clutch and could not be ridden, even though the description read “excellent condition, recently serviced.” It’s a $500 unexpected expense I can live with because I bought the bike several thousand dollars below full retail value.
My advice: Decide how much you will pay before the bidding starts, leave a cushion for unexpected expenses and don’t get caught up in auction fever — bid only to your predetermined limit. Auctions can be a fun and profitable way to buy a motorcycle if you’re careful and do your homework.
Vintage bike specialist and BMW dealer John Landstrom runs Blue Moon Cycle in Norcross, Ga. www.bluemooncycle.com