The Motorcycle Classics 1970 Honda CB350 sold for $5,500 at Bonhams. Photo by the Motorcycle Classics staff
As it usually does, the annual Las Vegas classic motorcycle auctions yielded more than a few surprises. The biggest sale of the January event was over at Mecum, where, underscoring increasing interest in original condition machines, a 1912 Henderson Four sold for a stunning $490,000, a price that climbs to well over $500,000 once the buyer’s fee, typically 5-10 percent, is added. Bonham’s top sale of the event was a 1914 Feilbach 10 horsepower Limited that sold for $195,000. Assembled from leftover parts following the factory’s 1914 closure, it was owned by the Feilbach family until the 1980s, giving it a very unique history.
Mecum reported a 92 percent sell-through, while Bonhams reported 70 percent. And while Mecum was clearly the big winner in terms of total dollars — a reported $13.7 million versus an estimated $4 million at Bonhams — those numbers don’t tell the full story, as Mecum’s four-day event rolled some 1,000 bikes across the block versus some 240 at Bonhams. Mecum’s top 10 sellers achieved a combined $1,466,000, while Bonhams’ top 10 achieved a combined $1,151,000, punctuating the impact of the Henderson sale at Mecum, where the next highest sale was $150,000 — for another Henderson, this time a restored 1913 Four. The next highest sale at Bonhams — also at $150,000 — was a 1955 Vincent Series D Black Knight. On the other end of the spectrum, at Mecum somebody got a very nice 1973 Suzuki Titan T500 for $1,700, while at Bonhams somebody paid similar money for a fantastic 1974 Honda CR125 Elsinore equipped with quality performance modifications you couldn’t possibly duplicate for the selling price.
Yet in our opinion the biggest sale of the event was the $5,500 achieved for the Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350, to our knowledge the highest price ever paid for a 1970 Honda CB350. And while we’d argue that it wasn’t your average CB350, built to be a daily rider with upgrades like electronic ignition, improved suspension and more, in this case the winning bid wasn’t all about the bike.
Interest in the Honda was high in no small part thanks to our promise to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Rider Benevolent Fund, which exists to aid injured riders. We were immeasurably aided in our effort thanks to Bonhams, which graciously offered to forego normal selling fees to ensure that all the proceeds from the sale went to AHRMA, and Motorcycle Shippers who shipped the bike to Vegas and Federal Motorcycle Transport who shipped the bike free of charge to its new owner. The interest our Honda generated was more than a little satisfying, and we were glad for the opportunity to give something tangible back to the vintage motorcycle community. MC