Lee Hartung motorcycle collection to sell November 3-5, 2011

Reader Contribution by Richard Backus
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This is just one corner of the Chicago-area warehouse housing Lee Hartung’s incredible collection of vintage motorcycles, cars and memorablia. It will all be auctioned November 3-5, 2011.

Auctions America by RM will be lining up and selling off the unbelievable collection of motorcycles, cars, parts and memorabilia – including the largest collection of license plates in the U.S., some 10,000! – amassed by collector Lee Hartung over 60-plus years. The collection includes at least 48 vintage motorcycles, ranging from a 1902 Wagner to a late 1970s Honda CB750K.

The scope of the collection, which Hartung had displayed as a museum of sorts for years, boggles the mind. Hartung, who died in May at the age of 86, was a Chicago-area junk and scrap dealer with a keen eye for the rare and unusual, (and often the ordinary, as well, as shown by his impressive license plate collection). Cars include a very rare BMW-powered 1950 Veritas (Latin for “truth”), a twin-grilled 1936 Lincoln Zephyr and a 1950 Edwards Roadster. The majority of cars and motorcycles are American, with famous names like Indian, Henderson and Harley-Davidson well represented. Among the foreign names is a 1904 four-cylinder Belgian FN in original running condition.

This will without question be the sale of the decade. Collectors like Hartung are a rare breed to start with, and Hartung amassed a particularly unique range of vehicles. He also collected vintage hit-and-miss farm engines, which will be included in the sale. The auction will run three days, starting Thursday, November 3 and concluding Saturday, November 5. To get a better idea of the scope of the collection, check out this video with collector/restorer/Wheels Through Time museum owner Dale Walksler, who was hired to help assess the motorcycle collection. As the videos show, Dale was able to get many of them started and running with only basic preparation. Truly amazing, and an auction not to be missed! – Richard Backus

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