Paul Ousey’s 1905 Erie won Best in Class at Amelia Island 2014.
Most of the major automobile concours have at least one motorcycle class. Pebble Beach, Hilton Head, and The Quail Gathering have all realized that there is ample interest in two wheel vehicles. Quite often there is a theme to help attract certain types of motorcycles as opposed to the structured class divisions seen in many shows. The theme approach is a great way to further stimulate interest in vintage motorcycling.
This year’s theme at Amelia was “Orphan American Motorcycles,” homage to the numerous small American companies that were around before World War I. Many of these motorcycles were “badge engineered” where a proprietary engine was bought and inserted in a frame. Thor made numerous single-cylinder engines for other manufacturers. This event could have been called “A Show of Original Paint Motorcycles Presented by TV Personalities” since Dale Walksler (“What’s in the Barn”) and Wayne Carini (“Chasing Classic Cars”) brought the majority of vehicles there. Both are known for reality TV, but in this situation they were truly presenting “reality” since many of their bikes are untouched originals. This was quite refreshing considering the abundance of over-restored/never-looked-that-good vehicles present at many shows.
One pièce de résistance was an early Thor racer loaned by The Allen County Museum in Lima, Ohio. Included in their exhibit was the shipping crate that was used to transport the bike from race to race on a train. Inside the crate was a card with the engine specifications and the rider’s FIM license. This complete package won a Preservation Award. Also of historical interest was an early Yale loaned by The Pink Palace Museum in Memphis. The curators had originally gone to pick up an old gas pump in Arkansas. As they were leaving the owner shouted, “You want this old motorcycle too?” and proceeded to drag out a 1905 Yale. Another survivor was a Dixie Flyer, the only one known. It had been found in a mining town and still has very rich, original paint. Other companies represented in the Orphan Motorcycle Class were Reading-Standard, Apache, Erie, Steffey, Elk, and Fletcher Flyer. The best in class award went to Paul Ousey’s 1905 Erie.
The real winners were the attendees who enjoyed the splendid array of early American original paint motorcycles.
The 2015 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will feature "Legends of the High Bank," celebrating motorcycles that raced at Daytona Speedway. It all happens March 13-15, 2015.
A rare circa 1912-1913 Elk single-cylinder at Amelia Island 2014.
1913 Flescher Flyer prototype. Engine is a 9hp Spacke Deluxe V-twin.
1911 Thor single-cylinder board track racer with its original shipping crate.