Viva Las Vegas!
Interest in classic bikes remains strong, a fact amply proven at the annual MidAmerica Vintage Motorcycle Auction in Las Vegas where 388 — 76 percent — of the 509 motorcycles that crossed the block Jan. 7-9, 2010, found new homes.
Although attendance was down slightly this year, it was pretty much business as usual in Vegas and, as usual, Triumph was the most prolific brand, underscoring the continued popularity of Fifties and particularly Sixties Triumphs.
Triumphs enjoyed a better than average sales ratio compared to other makes. Of the 82 Triumphs in the auction, only 12 failed to sell, a strong 85 percent sell through. Compare that to Indians, with 34 Indians in the auction but only 16 sold, giving a sales percentage of less than 50 percent for the Springfield twins and fours.
So in a down economy, do the Triumph sellers simply have more realistic expectations of what their bikes are worth? That might be part of it, although it doesn’t hurt that interest in Triumphs also remains high. Further, Indian prices are significantly weaker than three to five years ago, meaning many Indian owners are looking at taking a loss if they sell in today’s market, and most are trying hard not to lose any of their investment.
Harleys, on the other hand, fell between the two, with 47 of 64 offered, or 73 percent, finding new owners. Top price for a Harley-Davidson was $49,000 before buyer’s premium for a 1926 replica 8-valve FHAC board track racer.
Overall, European bikes appeared to hold their value better than their American counterparts. One little known but much revered European motorcycle is the peerless Munch Mammoth, or “Mammut” as it’s called in its creator’s mother tongue, German.
Although seldom surfacing at public sale in the U.S., Munchs have had the auction limelight recently due to the untimely death of Munch fanatic Dave Manthey in 2008. Following Manthey’s passing, North America’s largest collection of Munchs hit the auction block at the Kruse International auction in Auburn, Ind., last September, when no less than 10 Munchs were offered for sale, many reaching record prices and most selling to buyers in Germany.
The 1968 Munch (the catalog listed it as a 1967, but it’s believed to actually be a 1968) that sold at Las Vegas had failed to sell just a few months earlier at Kruse’s Auburn sale, where it was reportedly bid to $56,000. Las Vegas bidders took the Munch to a very respectable $78,000 (less buyer’s premium) before the gavel dropped. With the majority of Munch collectors living in Germany (you can even source Munch replicas there from Michael Krone), this is sure to remain a very rare motorcycle here in the U.S.
Munch or not, you didn’t need to be a high roller to attend the annual Las Vegas motorcycle auction. This year showed some great bargains; many bikes sold for less than $3,000 and almost a quarter of the machines on offer sold for $5,000 or less. And even if you didn’t go to bid, where else could you see over 500 classic motorcycles, all for sale under one roof? MC
1. Best possible
2. Near perfect restoration or factory original
3. Older unused restoration or excellent original
4. Older restoration, ridden or good original
5. Daily rider that shows regular use
6. Project bike