The top 100 most expensive motorcycles sold at auction
This list of the 250 most valuable motorcycles ever to sell at auction offers an unprecedented view of the collectible motorcycle marketplace. This article lists all 250 motorcycles, in order, with their prices, images, and links to the official auction pages, if they still exist. Our analysis of the top 250 motorcycles, the most prominent marques, where they are sold and the elite auction houses which sell them, which countries produced them, and the most popular engine configurations based on this increased depth can be found at our Top 250 Analysis.
Auctions are generally agreed to be the absolute model of economic efficiency and hence the fairest, most accurate way of determining the true value of an item and uniting buyers and sellers at just the right price to their mutual benefit. There have been billions of words written about auctions and auction theory, but when a single rare item has a unique provenance, and may be valued quite differently by all those potential buyers who make up the ever-increasing internet universe, an auction is also the perfect way of invoking the "auction winner's curse."
There are those who argue that there is a winner's curse of always paying too much at an auction, as there is inevitably at least one person who adds irrationality to the model to make the winning bid too high... and the larger the universe of bidders, the greater the likelihood of irrationality, and the higher the price.
That said, the auction marketplace is also the most accountable of all, and most estimates suggest that it represents between 30 and 50 percent of the rare motorcycle and car marketplace – that is, somewhere between one in three and one in two rare motorcycles changes hands at auction. The bulk change hands privately or via dealers.
The advantage of the auction marketplace is that the results become part of the "public domain" and when the results of the auction market are aggregated and analysed, as we have done here, some perspective can be achieved.
This Top 250 is a work in progress. The amount of work involved in scouring available auction results has already been thousands of hours. There may be results we've missed, and if we can find such results (feel free to contact us – see bottom of article) we'll verify each and every result, and add them to the listing. This list is meant to be a ready-reference guide for our readership to make informed decisions about their two-wheeled "investments of passion" just as our soon-to-be-updated four-wheeled equivalent is intended to do likewise.
A similar Top 100 cars listing has also been published, and other analysis of various facets of the collectables marketplace will follow over time: coins, stamps, toys, guns, militaria, armour, sports collectibles ad infinitum. We recently increased our top 10 movie cars to the top 50 and we're a few weeks away from publishing the top 100 Japanese motorcycle auction results of all time too. We're constantly on the lookout for suitable people to work with us on this projects and if you feel you have the necessary expertise in one of these areas, we'd love to hear from you.
As you will see from our analysis of the top 250 motorcycles, this is far from a complete picture of the entire motorcycle marketplace (no-one else has a list as thorough as this, and statistical perspective of the entire marketplace is unavailable anywhere else), because it contains only those motorcycles which have appeared at auction and even then, only those that have sold.
We have included (without a ranking – denoted as "00" in list) some of the significant motorcycles which failed to meet their reserve prices and were hence not sold, in order to give an approximation of their relative worth at auction. If any readers have suggestions of similarly landmark machinery which has crossed the auction block and failed to sell, we'd be pleased consider and add them if appropriate. The aim of this exercise is to eventually paint a complete picture of the marketplace.
Several of these motorcycles, were they to meet reserve or even have their high bid accepted, would undoubtedly feature prominently on this list. Finally, if you want more details on any of these bikes, click through to the auctioneer's descriptions which have been included in almost all cases (if it's available, we've linked to it).
We've included many photos in our image library but the auctioneers often include much of the correspondence and many period images sourced for the sale, so if you're interested in one of these bikes, or marques, make sure you click through for the detailed information and more images.
reportedly sold for US$1,620,000 but sale appears to have fallen through
Los Angeles, U.S.
Auctioned by Profile in History No auction link available
The Stars-and-Stripes-adorned "Captain America" chopper ridden by Peter Fonda in the classic American road movie Easy Rider is arguably the world’s most famous and instantly recognisable motorcycle. The only trouble is that no-one is sure which the real one is any more, and that authenticity is worth a lot of money. Without it, both of the bikes which Dan Haggerty (who received the burned out chopper from the final scene of the movie - all the others were stolen and never recovered) certified as being the sole remaining Captain America bike are worth no more than this replica.
The authenticity of this motorcycle was brought into question in the days prior to the auction, but a telephone bidder reportedly bid US$1.62 million dollars and press announcements were made by Profiles in History regarding the sale and the media reported the sale globally.
Then the rumours started and although the vendor, well-known motorcycle collector Michael Eisenberg, has not made a public statement, he is telling people privately that the sale fell through.
We contacted Profiles in History regarding the rumours and the response was “The bike was sold and announced back in October at the auction. We are not discussing the sale of the bike any further.”
All record of the Captain America bike sale has now been removed from the Profiles in History web site, and there are rumours of legal action. There’s clearly some misinformation going on from at least some of the parties involved, so until we can see evidence that the bike and money changed hands, we're treating this as a "no sale."
Las Vegas, U.S.
It didn't quite make it to a million dollars as we had expected, but the beautiful 111 mph (179 km/h) bevel-driven OHC V-twin 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer was the star of the E.J. Cole Collection at the end of the day, attracting the highest genuine bid ever for a motorcycle at auction, being a hammer price of $775,000 which ultimately translated to the bike fetching $852,500 including buyer's premium of 10 percent.
Only 13 Cyclones are known to exist, and this one was owned by Steve McQueen. We did an extensive article on the bike in the lead up to the auction.
2 – 1907 Harley-Davidson "Strap Tank" Single
Las Vegas, U.S.
Mecum MidAmerica placed the highest price estimate of all the bikes in the Cole Collection on this Harley-Davidson Strap Tank Single, expecting it would fetch estimated $800,000 to $1,000,000.
The strap tank single is the popular name given to Harley-Davidson's first motorcycle, a 440cc single cylinder motorcycle with Nickel-plated steel straps attaching the oil and main fuel tank to the frame. These bikes are the most sought-after of all Harley-Davidson models and when the Otis Chandler Collection was sold in 2006, a 1907 Strap Tank Single sold for $352,000. This "strap tank" more than doubled that price due to its remarkably original condition. Not only did the bike present with completely original paint, it was on just its third owner when it went to auction in Las Vegas, 108 years after it first turned a wheel. This bike was purchased by Cole from the Leo Bongers estate auction in 1993 and Bongers father was the original purchaser of the bike in 1907.
This bike is one of the first 100 Harley-Davidsons ever built. Its serial number suggests it was the 37th bike made in 1907, making it the 94th Harley-Davidson overall, including the original two prototypes.
00 – 1910 Winchester 6 HP
US$580,000 sale price claimed but we don't think it really happened
Auctioned by Worldwide Auctioneers No auction link available
Previously published information on this sale would appear to be incorrect. The bike did NOT sell at auction for the reported $580,000, and has been removed from our listing.
One of only two examples of 200 motorcycles built by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company ("the gun that won the west") still known to exist, it was belatedly discovered that a 1910 Winchester motorcycle had sold by Worldwide Auctions for US$580,000 on August 31, 2013. The bike was reported in the media as having been purchased at auction by a gun enthusiast who considered his purchase to be "well bought." The full story makes fascinating reading, particularly in light of recent information which suggests that the bike did not change hands at auction, but after the auction, and the amount of the money which changed hands was not the amount publicised. Once again, no-one is talking and misinformation appears to have been deliberately introduced into the public domain, and the authenticity of the entire affair is now in question, not to mention rumours circulating about the origins of the second Winchester. We'll report further if any of the parties wish to tell their story, but will treat this as a "no sale" in the meantime. As with the Captain America bike, if you're looking to buy a Winchester motorcycle, "caveat emptor."
Pebble Beach, U.S.
Auctioned by MidAmerica Auctions (now Mecum MidAmerica) No auction link available
The short-lived but spectacular success of the Cyclone brand and the bike’s remarkable bevel-driven OHC, four-valve-per-cylinder V-twin design which was bleeding edge at the time, both contributed to the auction price it commanded. You don’t need to do a lot of research to realize just how rare Cyclones were in their day, let alone one in such pristine condition a century later. The extraordinarily beautiful motor of the Cyclone was a 996cc, 45 degree V-Twin with bevel-driven overhead camshafts. In 1915 it was reportedly timed at 111 mph. This bike held the world record (jointly) for a motorcycle at auction for a number of years.
US$492,973 (sold for GBP£315,100)
The 986cc SS100 Alpine Grand Sports model is named after the famous Alpine Trial, one of the very first alpine reliability trials and prior to WWI, the toughest event in the world. Beginning in 1910, the Alpine Trial took in the vast mountain peaks, chilling temperatures, and the twists and turns of Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and the infamous Stelvio Pass. It evolved into what is now the World Rally Championship, though initially, it saw both cars and motorcycles compete.
George Brough participated in the Trial in 1925 on an SS100, winning six trophies including one for "Best Performance." The design of the Brough Superior Alpine Grand Sports took inspiration from its founder’s achievement, and was introduced to the market in 1925 for the 1926 season with a lower compression ratio (making it suitable for touring), a small fly-screen and a pair of tool boxes as standard.
"Brough Superior is a legendary marque in the motorcycle world," said Ben Walker, Director for Bonhams Motorcycle Department. "The most charismatic of the marque’s stable is unquestionably the SS100 and we are delighted to be offering the model in its ultimate guise, a Vintage example in Alpine Grand Sports specification, boasting matching registration, frame and engine numbers – designed to honor the legendary Alpine Trial – the most arduous motoring test of its time."
5 – 1939 BMW RS255 Kompressor
Las Vegas, U.S.
Formerly owned by BMW works rider Walter Zeller, this machine was a private project built using many parts sourced directly from the BMW factory using Zeller's influence. Though not an original works machine, this recreation of a BMW RS255 Kompressor used a genuine 1939 BMW RS255 Kompressor engine, a 1951 Rennsport "plunger" frame, plus numerous modifications (twin-leading shoe front brake, re-creation forks) which make it an authentic re-creation of an RS255 Kompressor spanning the pre- and post-war era.
6 – 1922 Brough Superior SS80
US$463,847 (sold for £291,200)
Auctioned by H&H Auctions
Nicknamed "Old Bill", this bike was ridden extensively by George Brough himself, won more than 50 races with George in the saddle and was sold with an extensive, well-documented history which included ownership by "Titch" Allen, the well-known President of the Vintage Motorcycle Club.
7 – 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sports
US$452,234 (sold for £280,800)
Another pristine example of the marque with matching engine and frame numbers, a Works Record Card and a well documented ownership history, this 1926 SS100 Alpine Grand Sports model features a JAP, 8/45 hp, 980 cc OHV V-twin engine, Binks two jet twin float sports carburetor, three-speed counter shaft hand-change gearbox, single center spring multi-plate clutch, Harley-Davidson bottom link front forks, rigid frame, and cable operated front and rod operated rear brakes. Its complete authenticity, where subsequent improvements were reversed to original fitments during a fully documented restoration by marque specialists plus well documented provenance was responsible for the final result at auction.
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Auctioned by Guernseys Auctions
This bike is the limited edition 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650 which 1950s musical sensation Buddy Holly bought from Ray Miller's Triumph and Ariel dealership in Dallas, Texas on May 13, 1958. The Crickets had just played a gig in Dallas and the three young and newly successful musicians (Holly, Joe Maudlin, and Jerry Allison) decided on a whim to cancel their flights and buy motorcycles for the 350 mile trip home.
Bass player Joe Maudlin bought a Triumph Thunderbird, drummer Jerry Allison chose a Triumph Trophy and Holly was taken by this limited-edition black and red Ariel Cyclone 650cc – one of only 174 built.
The motorcycle was sold subsequent to Holly's death in an aircrash twelve months later. In 1979, Maudlin, Allison and a third member of the Crickets, Sonny Curtis, approached the bike’s owner and put in an offer to buy it as a present for the forty-second birthday of Holly's best friend, Waylon Jennings. It resided in Jenning's den until his death and was auctioned on October 5, 2014.
Jennings was playing bass for the Crickets at the time of Holly's death and had been scheduled to fly with Holly on the fateful flight, but gave up his seat to J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson, who had been ill. Though he gave up music for several years subsequent to the loss of his closest friend, Waylon Jennings eventually returned to his craft and became an international musical star in his own right.
The Ariel with its high compression 650 cc "headmaster" engine is beautifully preserved with just over 4,000 original miles, and has not been ridden in over twenty years, serving as a symbol of a pivotal time in American music history.
Though famous for only 17 months of his life (from the day his first hit That'll Be the Day topped the Billboard charts to his death), Holly is widely recognized as one of the most profound influences in musical history with his unique style and a string of hits including Oh, Boy, Peggy Sue, True Love Ways, It Doesn't Matter Anymore and Raining In My Heart.
From Wikipedia: "His works and innovations inspired and influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably the Beatles, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Holly number 13 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time."
The Beatles chose their name as an oblique reference to their respect for Holly and Don McLean's famous song began with reference to the tragedy which took Holly's life as "The Day the Music Died".
The Ariel's stellar price is hence testimony to the provenance of ownership which included two of music's all-time greats. Following the sale of the bike, the anonymous purchaser apparently rode the bike once and then put it on long-term-loan to the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock.
9 – 1929 Brough Superior SS100
US$448,156 (sold for £286,000)
Auctioned by H&H Auctions
This is an example that all Brough Superior owners can take heart from in that it achieved its price not through a storied history or celebrity ownership, but from being a perfectly restored example of one of the finest models. It features many of the most sought-after latter day developments of the Brough, such as the Bentley and Draper sprung frame, dual headlights and heavy-duty three-speed gearbox.
10 – 1939 Brough Superior SS100
US$425,943 (sold for £253,500)
Though not entirely original (very few of the 1000 remaining Brough Superiors in existence are completely original given that it is 75 years since the last Brough was produced), this bike is as-original and well documented as having been built for and used extensively by George Brough.
Originally attached to a sidecar, this bike was first registered by George Brough on May 24, 1939 and two days later took part in the London-Edinburgh endurance run piloted by Brough with Motor Cycling journalist Henry Laird as passenger (pictured above). Laird's article about the event was published in the June 14, 1939 issue of Motor Cycling magazine, a copy of which was supplied with the machine.
Though no Works Record Card can be found, it appears that given the bike was being used for publicity and promotional purposes. Brough cut a few corners as the engine number (1108), is two digits higher than that of the last Brough to leave the factory (1106). Priceless provenance and originality contributed to the price.
00 – 1894 Roper Steam Motorcycle
High bid of US425,000 (passed in)
Las Vegas, U.S.
We've listed this motorcycle without a ranking because it didn't sell at auction, but would undoubtedly be a top 10 motorcycle if it had reached its reserve – it was passed in at US$425,000. The full story of this remarkable piece of motorcycle history is told in a feature article we ran at the time of it's auction. This bike is a candidate for being the world's oldest running motorcycle, and its Roper forebears include arguably the oldest motorcycle in history. It is also the motorcycle upon which Sylvester Roper died.
11 – 1911 Flying Merkel Board Track Racer
Las Vegas, U.S.
Joseph Merkel only made bikes for 15 years, and under three different names (Merkel, Merkel Light and Flying Merkel), but his motorcycles are among the most collectible in the world. This 1911 Flying Merkel board track racer presented at auction in completely original condition, and was regarded as one of the central gems of the entire E.J. Cole collection.
12 – 1939 Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide
US$418,940 (sold for £275,900)
We correctly predicted in our preview of Bonhams 2015 Stafford auction that this 1939 Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide was world record material, because pre-war Vincent-HRD Rapides embody the joint properties of being very advanced technologically for the era, and made in very limited quantities. Opinions vary on how many were made but most agree the final tally was in the high seventies, being just a handful more than the equally sought-after Crocker V-twins being made across the pond at the same time. A few weeks prior to this auction, a Crocker set a record for the marque at the E.J. Cole Collection auction, and when the hammer finally fell for a total price of £275,900, the bike had set a new record for the illustrious Vincent marque.
Vincents make up 20 percent of our top 250 listing and the four most expensive Vincents of all-time to sell at auction now include three pre-war Series-A Rapides, with only a 1948 Black Lightning ($375,303 – sold for £246,000) preventing a clean sweep for the model. The others are elsewhere on this list being a 1939 Series-A Rapide ($366,775 – sold for £225,500) and 1939 Series-A Rapide ($357,291 – sold for £198,400).
Completed in 2013, this bike was sold as a thoroughly comprehensive restoration undertaken to concours standard, both mechanically and cosmetically. A measure of its quality may be gained from the painstaking approach taken to the use of stainless steel fastenings. Every nut, bolt, stud, washer and fitting has been reproduced in this material to as near original pattern as possible, being finished in one of three ways: polished to simulate a chromed finish; dull blasted to simulate cadmium; or chemically blackened to simulate a Parkerized finish. The result is a finish that has the same appearance as the original but with the enduring qualities of stainless steel. The paintwork is all traditional stove enamel.
13 – 1934 Brough Superior SS100
US$394,101 (sold for £242,300)
Another near perfect example of the marque with full documentation, this bike retains its original frame, engine, works record card, much original correspondence and a copy of Motorcycle Classics magazine in which noted journalist Alan Cathcart tested the machine.
This SS100 uses the (then) redesigned JAP 8/75hp twin-cylinder engine with two oil pumps, magnetos and carburetors, and a four-speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox.
One of eight SS100s built in 1934, an identical machine was on order by Lawrence of Arabia but was undelivered when the famous warrior died in a motorcycle accident. The bike has spent time in Murray’s Motorcycle Museum on the Isle of Man and was displayed at the Goodwood Revival.
This bike has been auctioned twice by Bonhams, first in 2008 when it fetched £166,500 and more recently in 2012 when it achieved its current "Top 10" record price.
Kissimmee, Florida, U.S.
Auctioned by Mecum Auctions
"The Killer", as Jerry Lee Lewis was known even before he became famous, was rock & roll's original "bad boy" and if there's an irony, it's that the he has outlived nearly all of music's wild men and women, yet had his first hit five years before the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.
Jerry Lee Lewis has had a dozen gold records, several Grammy awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as number 24 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Perhaps less well known is that the Killer has been an ardent motorcyclist for more than sixty years and has a stable of Harleys.
Pride of place in the collection is this 1959 FLH Panhead which was given to him by Harley-Davidson 55 years ago. Elvis Presley got one on the same day.
“There was a time I wouldn’t take a zillion dollars for it, but now it’s just sitting there", says Lewis. "You can crank that motorcycle up and she purrs like a kitten – but you have to kickstart it you know. I could probably sit on it alright today, but I wouldn’t take a chance. I’m 79 years old. This bike is like a child to me, but I’ve decided it’s time to let it go.”
The bike sold for $385,000 on January 24, 2015.
15 – 1942 Crocker Big Tank
Las Vegas, U.S.
This 1942 Crocker V Twin was estimated to fetch between $300,000 to $350,000 at the EJ Cole Collection auction in March, 2015. It went above estimate for a total price of $385,000, setting a new record for the marque.
16 – 1949 Vincent Black Lightning Supercharged
US$383,317 (sold for £221,500)
A unique motorcycle built specifically to attempt the World Land Speed Record by Reg Dearden with much help from Phil Vincent and the Vincent factory. The full story is worth reading, though an attempt was never made for a host of reasons. This is a truly unique machine of impeccable provenance.
17 – 1932 Brough Superior "BS4" 3-Wheel Austin-engine
US$375,913 (sold for £246,400)
War Museum, U.K.
One of only ten Brough Superiors built using the lightweight, water-cooled, four-cylinder engine from the Austin 7, the BS4 is both a rarity and an oddity, having two rear wheels. Though the two-rear wheels suggest it was primarily intended as a sidecar mount, this bike was set up as a solo.
18 – 1948 Vincent HRD Black Lightning
US$375,303 (sold for £246,000)
War Museum, U.K.
The Black Lightning was essentially a racing version of the Black Shadow and was hence seen as the fastest of the fastest at the time it was built. This bike was the very first Black Lightning and is fitted with Amal TT carburetors and has straight through exhausts, giving it a sound appropriate for the superbike it is. The beneficiary of a seven year rebuild, this Lightning has won several prestigious awards including the Best Vincent award at the Vincent Owners Club's Annual Rally in 2000 and Best in Show at the 2005 Stafford Classic Bike Show.
19 – 1939 Vincent HRD Series A Rapide
US$366,775 (sold for £225,500)
A very rare machine in that just 78 Series A Vincent twins were produced between late 1936 and 1939. The bike was previously part of the Brian Verrall collection and was auctioned by Bonhams in 2008, fetching £198,400.
20 – 1939 Vincent-HRD Series-A Rapide
US$357,291 (sold for £198,400)
This rare motorcycle crossed the auction block during the sale of the Brian Verrall Collection in 2008. Series-A Vincents are rare animals. The prototype Series-A Rapide broke cover at the 1936 Olympia Motor Cycle Show, and although production commenced in 1936, it was halted in 1939 at the outbreak of WWII and resumed in 1946 with the all-new Series-B. Only around 50 Series-A Vincent V-twins survive worldwide today.
21 – 1907 Harley-Davidson "Strap Tank" Single
Los Angeles, U.S.
Auctioned by Gooding and Co
No auction link available for original sale, but the bike subsequently sold in January, 2015
Originally sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection by Gooding & Co in 2006, the "Strap Tank" was the bike which kick-started the fledgling enterprise of Bill Harley and Arthur Davidson and the bike which sold for US$352,000 price in 2006 would have been built in the first Harley-Davidson factory.
The bike was auctioned again in January 2015 by Barrett-Jackson as part of the Ron Pratte Collection fetching US$165,000 - less than half of it's price of eight years earlier.
Someone picked themselves up an absolute bargain!
22 – 1929 Brough Superior SS100
US$332,969 (sold for £210,000)
One of the most famous motorcycles of the pre-war era, it was once dubbed, "the fastest privately owned machine in the world suitable for road use" by Motor Cycling magazine. Known across England as "Moby Dick" as it had been nicknamed by the magazine, this Brough Superior SS100 achieved a top speed of 106 mph in 1931. Another wonderful history worth reading, Moby Dick thoroughly deserves its place on this list.
US$330,938 (sold for EUR241,500)
As sometimes happens when a bike has a remarkable provenance and is wanted by more than one individual with the means to indulge their passion (or presumably in this case, faith), this 2013 Harley-Davidson achieved the astonishing price of EUR 241,500 (US$330,938) at Bonhams’ Les Grandes Marques du Monde sale at the Grand Palais in Paris on February 6, 2014.
The 1,585 cc Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide motorcycle had been owned by the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and fetched roughly 25 times its new sale value due to its Holy alliance.
The bike had been given to the Pontiff by Harley-Davidson the previous year as part of its 110th Anniversary and the Pope donated the signed machine and a leather Harley jacket, to the Caritas Roma’s Don Luigi di Liegro hostel and soup kitchen for the homeless in Rome.
Both the bike and the jacket were signed by the Pontiff as "Francesco" at a ceremony in Rome in November, 2013, and the jacket achieved an equally remarkable €57,500 price. Pope Francis is proving to have a similar "Midas Touch" to Steve McQueen: a skullcap worn by the Pontiff recently sold on Ebay for US$113,000.
24 – 1934 Brough Superior SS100
US$330,170 (sold for £166,500) April 2008
One of only eight Brough Superiors SS100's built in 1934, this example came with a detailed history – every change of hands over eight decades was documented. The original owner purchased the SS100 from Matthews & Co of Stratford-on-Avon and the motorcycle would remain in the Stratford region under several owners before joining other such classics at Murray's Motorcycle Museum in the Isle of Man around 1973. Changing hands again in 2005, the SS100 underwent a full mechanical and cosmetic restoration before being offered for sale by Bonhams in April 2008.
00 - 1957 MV Agusta 500cc Grand Prix Racer
Auctioneers Estimate: £160,000 - 180,000 (US$319,728 - 359,694) (Failed to meet reserve) April, 2007
They don't come much better credentialed than this bike, though to be fair, it was one of very few MV Agusta "fire engines" which didn't win a world title. A genuine MV Agusta factory Grand Prix bike raced (and subsequently owned) by John Surtees, the only man to have ever won both the World 500cc (now MotoGP) Championship and the World Formula One Drivers Championship. That it failed to meet such a low reserve at auction in 2007 is testimony to the undervaluing of collectible motorcycles. What this bike might now now be worth is a subject for some heated debate, but ... the auction block is always the final arbiter. No doubt the marketplace will come to its senses, but this bike has been and gone. It may be another few decades before such a treasure again becomes available at public sale.
25 – 2010 Ducati GP10 Desmosedici
EUR 251,500 (US$325,430) May 2012
Monte Carlo, Monaco
In an extraordinary move in 2012, Ducati auctioned two of its Desmosedici MotoGP bikes, with this machine, Casey Stoner's 800cc Ducati Desmosedici GP10 CS1 fetching the higher price of the two at auction.
Gizmag wrote about the bikes at the time. This particular GP10 was campaigned during 2010 and logged a total of 4,232 racing kilometers, including a victory in the Australian GP at Phillip Island in October 2010, podiums in Valencia, Assen and Catalunya and pole positions in Qatar, Phillip Island and Valencia.
More images of the bike can be found in the image gallery for this article and still more in the image gallery of the original article.
26 – 1927 Zenith-JAP 8/45hp
US$319,653 (sold for £177,500) September 2008
Dating from Zenith’s heyday, this magnificent Zenith-JAP was supplied new via Blay’s of Twickenham to Roland Martin in April 1927 and later was united with its AJS-manufactured Graiseley TT Model 259 racing sidecar. The original bills of sale for both motorcycle and sidecar are on file. Roland Martin was one of the few private owners who had their own workshop at Brooklands, and earned his living by preparing and tuning other people’s machines for racing. He started racing solos, but his real love was motorcycle combinations, and the KTOR-engined Zenith represented just about the best you could buy for £140 in 1927.
This machine’s JAP KTOR racing engine – listed as the ‘8/45hp’ - produced 45bhp and was the most powerful available to the private owner, the slightly more potent JTOR, rated at 8/50hp, being reserved exclusively for works riders.
As such, this machine represents a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a V-twin-engined racing motorcycle belonging to one of the most important sporting marques of the Vintage period, possessing a proven Brooklands association and impeccable provenance.
US$317,862 (sold for EUR245,700) May 2012
Monte Carlo, Monaco
One of two Ducati Desmosedici MotoGP machines auctioned by Ducati in 2012, this bike was campaigned by the world's most popular motorcycle racer, Valentino Rossi.
Only one rider has ever proven himself capable of riding the Desmosedici at world championship pace: Casey Stoner. Sadly for everyone, Valentino Rossi never came to grips with Ducati's machinery, despite winning Championships in 125, 250, and several flavors of MotoGP (500 two-strokes, 1000cc four-strokes and 800cc four-strokes), but after appearing likely to match Giacomo Agostini's record eight MotoGP titles, and laying claim to being the greatest racer of all-time, Rossi's career stalled when he moved to Ducati. In all of 2011, he achieved just one podium finish (on this bike) and he never won on the Desmosedici.
Not surprisingly, despite its (less than) chequered history, the rarity of the machine and Rossi's relationship to the bike propelled it into the stratosphere of motorcycle auction results.
28 – 1939 Crocker "Big Tank" twin
US$302,500 June, 2008
One of the rarest of all American motorcycles, roughly one hundred Crocker V-twins were produced between 1936 and 1942 when the war effort saw the company turn its attention to making aircraft parts. Conceived as performance cruisers, they significantly outperformed the Harley-Davidsons and Indians of the day, and they are now among the most desirable collector machines in the world. A modern-day Crocker Motorcycle Company now makes parts and supplies whole motorcycles in kit form.
Sold by RM as part of Joe MacPherson's (of Joe's Garage fame) collection, this Crocker was the star of the show at the 2008 sale and became the most valuable Crocker ever to sell at auction when it fetched US$302,500.
29 – 1940 Crocker "Big Tank" twin
US$302,000 August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.
An almost identical bike to the 1939 Big Tank above.
30 – 1937 Crocker "Small Tank" twin
US$302, 000 August, 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.
In 1936 the first Crocker Twin motorcycle was released to resounding success and much to Albert Crocker’s astonishment and joy, he found himself with more orders than his small factory could produce. Such was Crocker’s confidence in the power and speed of his bikes, that he offered a full refund to any Crocker owner who was beaten by a stock Harley Davidson or Indian. No bike was ever returned for refund.
One of three extremely rare Crocker motorcycles offered for sale at Pebble Beach in 2012 by a private collector from Europe, this 1937 Crocker Small Tank generated spirited bidding before finally reaching its hammer price. Having been restored to its former elegance after being acquired at a Chicago auction in 2000, the Crocker was displayed at the owner's private museum prior to being offered at auction in August 2012.
31 – 1915 Iver Johnson twin
US$299,600 January 2012
Las Vegas, U.S.
Auctioned by MidAmerica (now Mecum) No auction link available
One of the most advanced motorcycles of its day, the Iver Johnson motorcycle was the product of a company which primarily produced guns, and the advent of WWI saw the company focus its attention on firearm production resulting in the closure of the motorcycle business.
This particular motorcycle was quite remarkably sold in 2012, 97 years after its manufacture, in new, original, and un-started condition. It was previously on display at the National Motorcycle Museum.
32 - 1940 Brough Superior SS100
US$295,000 August, 2011
Pebble Beach, U.S.
This machine is the last Brough Superior SS100 to leave the Nottingham factory, making it the last specimen of the species (at least in its original form – the marque has now been restored to its former glory and better-than-new replicas of some of the greatest period motorcycles can be purchased).
The machine was sold with a letter from Brough Superior Owners Club Registrar, Mike Leatherdale stating that it retains matching frame/engine numbers and is the last SS100 built. By the time of the machine's completion in April 1940 the Brough factory had been turned over to war work (making parts for the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine) and the handful of motorcycles built at this time were assembled from stocks of existing parts. For some time most of George Brough's clients had preferred the optional rear suspension, and this particular SS100's rigid frame had been in stock since April 1938. The completed machine was dispatched from the works on April 11th 1940 via Continental Express to a Mr McLaughlin (possibly a customer in the Republic of Ireland) and returned to the UK post-war, presumably to the Brough factory as it was registered "JTO 828" in Nottingham on June 6, 1947.
This machine appears to have been used by E O Blacknell (of Blacknell sidecars) and was featured in Motor Cycling magazine (September 11th 1949 edition). Subsequently owned by one Terry Knight in Devon, the Brough was sold in the mid-1970s to the USA where it was purchased in 2010 by the vendor at the time of this sale.
33 – 1937 Crocker 'Small Tank' twin
US$291,000 August 2012
Pebble Beach, U.S.
In 1931 Al Crocker, with the help of foreman and fellow Indian racer Paul Bigsby (who subsequently invented the guitar tremelo arm and founded Bigsby guitars), released the Crocker 30-50 cubic inch, single cylinder speedway bikes to the racing fraternity. They were extremely fast & quickly gained notoriety becoming a much sought after machine by speedway racers. Approximately 30 of these speedway bikes were produced. In the ensuing years Crocker sold his Indian Dealership and launched Crocker Motorcycle Company in downtown Los Angeles and in 1937, would release the Crocker Small Tank V-twin.
Like many "artists" of which Albert Crocker most certainly was, his focus on the business side of things was less than perfect and he was somewhat tardy in numbering his motorcycles sequentially. He was more interested in engineering and manufacturing superior motorcycles than mundane tasks such as documenting what he built. Consequently we can only be certain that this 1937 Crocker Small Tank twin bears the preceding engine number to its red counterpart offered for sale simultaneously.
34 – 1911 Harley-Davidson 7D Twin
US$283,400 January, 2014
Las Vegas, U.S
The 1911 7D twin was the first Harley v-twin with mechanically operated intake valves. Harley history records previous v-twins created for racing and promotional purposes, but none are recorded as having been sold, and those that did apparently exist had "automatic" intake valves that opened by engine vacuum and closed under compression and were close to unrideable. Hence the 7D is the first commercial version of the V-twin engine now synonymous with the H-D marque.
Whatsmore, this 1911 7D is one of just four complete first-year (1911) machines known to exist, wearing serial number #1910A..
35 – 1937 Crocker 'Hemi-Head'
US$276,500 November 2006
Los Angeles, U.S.
Auctioned by Bonhams and Butterfield
One of only five "Hemi-Head" Crocker V-twins manufactured early in 1937, this 1937 Crocker Small tank was restored by Johnny Eagles and on its debut exhibition, took Judges’ Choice and Best of Show awards at the Del Mar Concours.
The 45-degree v-twin engine displaces 61cu in (1,000cc) and is one of the first five which were built with exposed valves inclined at 90 degrees in a hemispherical combustion chamber before Crocker opted for the simpler arrangement of enclosed parallel valves for the remainder. Other advanced features of the Crocker included a cast-aluminum gas tank and constant-mesh transmission, although once again H-D was hot on Crocker’s heels with its own constant-mesh box. Faced with competition from Harley-Davidson’s newly introduced overhead-valve Knucklehead, Crocker responded with ever-larger engines. Crocker cylinders were thick enough to tolerate a considerable amount of over-boring, and the flexibility of small-scale, hand-built manufacture enabled Crocker to offer engines to customer specification in capacities up to (and sometimes beyond) 72cu in (1,180cc).
Unlike George Brough in England, who relied on proprietary components, albeit of the highest quality, to produce his Brough Superiors, Crocker built almost everything in house, including carburetors, with only items such as magnetos, spark plugs, wheel rims, tires and other accessories being bought in.
US$276,000 June 2009
New York, U.S.
Auctioned by Antiquorum
British inventor Alfred Angas Scott did more for the two-stroke motorcycle than any other single individual. His water-cooled, two-stroke twin-cylinder bikes were the first two-strokes to be competitive in motorcycle racing, gained the outright Isle of Man lap record in 1911, and in the years leading up to WWI were the fastest on the racetrack.
In the twenties, his racing two-strokes were again competitive though no longer dominant and the 500cc racing engine was used as the basis for the Super Squirrel road bike in 500cc and 600cc form. This bike, though the numberplate indicates 1926, was a 1929 model restored by Von Dutch for his friend Steve McQueen. Not surprisingly with such a provenance, the bike achieved a significant premium above a similar Scott that hadn't been owned by McQueen. This is the highest price ever fetched at auction by any two-stroke motorcycle. Though it achieved its stellar price in a non-traditional manner by being auctioned by a traditional time-peice auctioneer Antiquorum, the bike had previously been auctioned by Bonhams in 2007 as part of the Stan Betz collection.
37 – 1938 Brough Superior SS100
US$272,110 (sold for GBP £151,100) September 2008
Click the image to go to the image library for this 1938 Brough Superior SS100. The bike was sold for GBP £151,100 (US$272,110) in September 2008, byBonhams - this link takes you directly to the official auction page for this motorcycle on the Bonhams site.
38 – 1928 Coventry Eagle Flying-8
US$265,500 August, 2011
Quail Lodge, U.S.
One of only a relative handful of overhead-valve Flying-8s known to survive worldwide, the model represented Brough Superior's most credible rival in terms of quality, performance and price. The Flying-8 was powered by a 980cc JAP v-twin engine and built a fine sporting reputation thanks to its racing achievements, with its name derived from the engine's RAC rating of 8 horsepower.
Originally a bicycle producer under the name of its three principals, Hotchkiss, Mayo & Meek, the company changed its name to Coventry-Eagle in 1897 when Richard Hotchkiss died and John Meek left the company. A former watchmaker, Edmund Mayo, built his first motorcycle in 1898, and the company continued as a motorcycle manufacturer until the onset of WWII.
Legend has it that Coventry-Eagle's Percy Mayo (son of the founder) spent a lot of time with George Brough in the final years of WWI and found they had similar tastes in motorcycle design. The year after WWI finished, Brough began the production of the now legendary Brough Superior marque and in 1921 Coventry Eagle produced its first V-twin, the development of which culminated in the Flying-8 model introduced in 1923, and a motorcycle very similar to the Brough Superiors of equivalent vintage. The Flying-8 was the most expensive motorcycle available in Great Britain next to the Brough Superior.
This bike previously sold for £100,500 ($194,739) at Bonhams' Stafford Sale in 2008.
39 – 1954 AJS Porcupine
US$259,551 (sold for GBP £163,600) April, 2000
The most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction for more than six years from 2000 to 2006, the E95 AJS Porcupine which held this record was not a genuine "works" racer and was not successful at an international level.
It is unquestionably a beautiful machine, but the only thing this bike shared with the bike which won the inaugural 1949 world championship is its "Porcupine" nickname. See this article for explanation. Wikipedia contains an unverified claim that the bike referred to in that article was sold post-auction for US$675,000. Note: Bike portrayed is a file image and may not be the actual bike which set this price.
40 – 1939 Brough Superior SS100
US$256,800 January, 2011Las Vegas, U.S.
The Brough Superior was manufactured from 1919 through to 1940 with 19 different models offered during this production run. Each motorcycle was built to the customer’s specifications and consequently, rarely were any two motorcycles alike. Quality & performance were paramount and to ensure each bike met stringent standards, it was first assembled to check all components for fit & function before the bike was disassembled for paint, polish and plating then reassembled in final finish.
Bill Melvin, the owner of this 1939 Brough Superior created his own YouTube advertisement, which shows him riding the motorcycle to the Rocky movie theme Gonna Fly Now, in the lead up to the Mid America Motorcycle Auction at South Pointe Casino Las Vegas Nevada in January 2011.
41 – 1928 Indian Altoona
US$247,500 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.
The Altoona Speedway was a 1.25-mile (2-km) board track located in central Pennsylvania which was the home of the American Board Track Championship races during the 1920s. Winning Altoona was so important that a winning machine might adopt the track name as its own, as was the case with many other bikes and cars which won at other famous venues such Daytona, Bonneville, TT and IOM, Le Mans ad infinitum. On July 9, 1926, "Curley" Fredericks lapped Altoona at an average speed of 114 mph (183 km/h) in a race, the highest speed ever recorded on a circular track, and the Indian racer was immediately dubbed the "Altoona."
The 61 cu-in. side-valve engine of the Altoona was designed by Charles Franklin, and its most distinctive features were the removable cylinder heads (a first for a side-valve Indian) and twin updraft Zenith racing carbs. As the induction gasses on a side-valve engine feed the cylinder from below, mounting the twin carburetors accordingly greatly assisted gas flow and the Altoona proved to be the fastest sidevalve engine Indian ever built, and the fastest sidevalve engine until the much later arrival of the Harley-Davidson KRTT.
Six weeks after the 114 mph Altoona win, Fredericks used the Altoona to lap a 1.25-mile board track at Rockingham, New Hampshire at 120.3 mph (193.6 km/h), the fastest speed ever recorded on a board track. The powerful engine was used in many different racing genres, and was victorious in many National Championship hillclimbs too. This 1928 Indian Altoona hillclimber is an original machine in as-raced condition.
42 – 1941 Crocker Big Tank
US$230,000 January 2007Las Vegas, U.S.
43 – 1938 Brough Superior SS100
US$242,495 (sold for £157,700) April, 2010Stafford, U.K.
The history of this particular 1938 Brough Superior SS100 can be traced back to its original purchase when Tom Davies of Manchester took delivery of the new motorcycle. Documentation indicates it to have been a demonstration model.
The bike is only known to have changed hands twice, once most likely around 1955 and again circa 1959 when EJ Checkley of Oxforshire UK acquired the classic machine. Checkley was a talented engineer with his own machine shop who is known to have restored three Brough Superior SS100's over four decades.
The fuel tank fitted to the motorcycle when offered for sale in 2010 was not the same it left the factory with however the original tank was included in the sale. The tank seen here was built to Brough patterns using stainless steel. Other modifications include speedometer & rims. The bike was offered by sale by Eric Checkley's grand daughter, who inherited it in when he passed in 2000.
44 – 1938 Brough Superior SS100
US$240,750 January 2011Las Vegas, U.S.
Another immaculate Brough Superior SS100 with an additional bonus in that the bike was previously owned by Bill Gibbard, author of of the well-known book, "Maintaining Your Brough Superior."
45 – 1939 Crocker "Small Tank" twin
US$236,500 October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
Auctioned by Gooding and Co.No auction link available
45 – 1912 Harley-Davidson 8A Twin
This 1912 Harley-Davidson Model 8A is a very rare and very early twin-cylinder model with a belt drive and idler wheel, enabling it to be stopped with the engine still running. It was restored from a complete and original machine and estimated to fetch between $100,000 and $150,000 at the EJ Cole Collection auction in March, 2015. It became one of the surprises of the collection auction, fetching $236,500.
47 – 1925 BMW R37
US$235,400 January, 2014Las Vegas, U.S.
The R37 is the bike which established BMW's racing heritage in its first year on the racing scene, and it is also one of rarest of the breed. When released in 1925, it was the first motorcycle anywhere to be powered by an engine with aluminium cylinder heads. The light alloy heads and overhead valves helped double the horsepower of BMW's existing twin of the same capacity and it took the BMW to the front of the pack in European racing. BMW racked up 91 European race wins in 1925, 105 in 1926 and 171 in 1927, winning the 500cc German championship title every year to 1929.
The R37 also made the breakthrough on the international stage. Rudolf Schleicher competed in the 1926 ISDT in Buxton, England, winning a gold medal and generating enormous interest in the new BMW which the British press called "the most interesting machines in the competition."
Of the handful of R37s known to still exist, this bike is believed to be the only one in period racing trim and has been the beneficiary of a 15 year restoration project.
48 – 1912 Henderson Four
This ultra-rare first-year 1912 Henderson 4 is believed to be one of six surviving machines. An older restoration, the bike was purchased from Cape Town, South Africa in 1983 and thirty years later, it became one of the 50 most valuable motorcycles ever sold when it fetched $236,500.
49 – 1950 Vincent Series C White Shadow
US$224,250 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S.
Interestingly, this particular bike (Frame no. RC6376A Engine no. F10AB/1A/4476) had previously sold at auction when it fetched US$111,150 at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in May, 2009, though when it sold last, it had been painted a distinctly non-traditional "Chinese Red Ivory" colour and appeared (see image gallery for previous images).
50 – 1954 BMW RS54
US$224,078 (sold for £143,000) October, 2010Haynes International Motor Museum, U.K.
One of only twenty four production racers manufactured by BMW, originally raced with success by the German rider Alois Huber, and later by Ernst Hiller and Lothar John. When new it was equipped with the 66 x 72 mm long stroke engine producing 48 bhp, however this was replaced during the 1960s by the later, more powerful factory short stroke engine with the 70 x 64 mm bore and stroke. More information here.
51 – 1937 Brough Superior 1096cc 11-50 HP
US$223,364 (sold for £147,100) April, 2015Stafford, U.K.
Launched in 1933, the 1,096 cc sidevalve 11-50 was the largest capacity Brough Superior to enter series production, sitting between the SS80 touring and SS100 super-sports models. The 11-50 was a long-legged, effortless tourer and could exceed 90 mph (145 km/h) in solo form or pull a heavy sidecar at up to 75 mph (120 km/h). Production lasted until 1939, by which time the 11-50 was the only JAP-powered machine in the Brough Superior range.
This particular matching-numbers 1937 Brough Superior 1096cc 11-50 HP was displayed on the Brough Superior stand at what was then the most important motorcycle show in the world, the Earls Court Motorcycle Show, in September 1937. A sprung frame model, it also came equipped with a separate oil tank, foot gear control, small pannier bags ("show type"), Cranford hinged rear mudguard, top and bottom rear chain cases, rear footrests, and Amal touring handlebars complete with dual integral twist grips.
The bike's price was somewhat of a surprise at the Stafford sale. Bonhams had estimated the bike would sell in the range of £30,000 to 40,000 ($44,000 to 59,000) but the bids kept coming and a world record for the model was achieved at GBP£147,100 (US$223,364).
52 – 1934 Brough Superior SS100
US$216,750 (sold for £131,300) April, 2011Stafford, U.K.
This SS100's accompanying Brough Superior Club correspondence and copy works record card reveals that it is a 1933 model first registered in 1934. The engine is the desirable JAP JTOR/D and this machine also features the ultra-rare Smiths cable-driven tachometer, which is a factory fitting from new. In 2004 it was fully restored to 'production standard' by marque specialist, Dave Clark, who at the time of cataloguing was in the final stages of manufacturing a new black/chromed/lined fuel tank to original specification (at the time of photography the tank was yet to be painted and lined).
53 – 1909 Curtiss twin
US$214,000 October, 2009St. Paul, U.S.A
Not the first Curtiss motorcycle to enter the top 100 most expensive motorcycles and certainly not the last, this 1909 Curtiss twin was a one-family-since-new "barn find" created by one of the most significant American inventors, aviators, engineers and entrepreneurs in history.
While this motorcycle is both very significant and completely original in every respect, with only around a dozen known to still exist, it is probably the direct association with Glenn Hammond Curtiss which gives it the greatest significance. Curtiss is a person of such historical gravitas, considered the father of naval aviation, one of the first aviators, the holder of the land and air speed records and countless other achievements.
Curtiss was inducted into the AMA Motorcycling Hall of Fame in 1998 and is probably best known in motorcycling for his creation of an air-cooled V8 motorcycle which set a land speed record of 218 kph (136 mph) during the Florida Speed Carnival at Ormond Beach in January 1907.
Sold in the shadow of the Global Financial Crisis, this bike's significance, rarity and authenticity could see it draw a much larger price at a later date.
54 – 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine
US$209,759 (sold for £138,140) April, 2015Stafford, U.K.
The history of this wonderfully patinated 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine is known from new, including starring with such luminaries as Wallace & Grommit on U.K. Channel 4's Big Breakfast in 1996. A matching numbers machine, it was sold with a large history file including photographs, a Brough Superior club copy of the original works record card, contemporary magazine reports of the new Black Alpine, a separate notebook recording work on the machine over many years, a 1937 letter from George Brough to the then owner, an 2012 article written for the Brough Superior Club newsletter, a 1996 roadtest of the machine by Motorcycle Sport and Leisure, a photocopy of a two page chapter about the machine from Titch Allen's Brough book Legends in their Lifetime, two continuation logbooks, ad infinitum. It sold at Bonhams' Stafford Sale in April, 2015 for £138,140 (US$209,759).
55 – 1917 Henderson 4
US$209,000 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.A
56 – 1937 Brough Superior SS100
US$203,000 August, 2012Pebble Beach, U.S.A
Another near perfect example of the Brough Superior SS100, full records and copies of the April 1991 issue of Cycle World magazine where this bike featured on the front cover and in an extensive article.
57 – 1955 Vincent Black Shadow Series C
US$202,824 (sold for £124,700) March, 2012Stafford, U.K.
A near-perfect example of the 998cc Series C Black Shadow, this bike was the very last Series C to be produced in 1955 before production switched entirely to Series D. Sold with a full history with all the documentation, an original Vincent Riders Handbook, and a copy of Motorcycle Sport & Leisure in which it was tested by leading motorcycle journalist, Alan Cathcart.
58 – 1911 Flying Merkel
US$201,250 November, 2011 Glenview, Illinois, U.S.
This "time-warp" 1911 Flying Merkel Twin was sold untouched from now exactly 100 years after it began service as part of the Lee Roy Hartung Collection in 2011. Testimony to the old adage "they don't make them like they used to", the big v-twin's original paint and lettering had hardly faded, and it is believed to be one of the most original examples in existence.
59 – 1928 Windhoff 746cc Four
US$199,292 (Sold for GBP £100,500) April, 2008Stafford, U.K.
If you’ve never heard of a Windhoff, and feel astonished that a motorcycle so advanced could have escaped your attention, you’re probably not the only one. Windhoff’s four-cylinder motorcycle appeared in 1926 utilising innovations that were considered landmark decades later. It’s a wonderful if somewhat sad story that this exquisite piece of engineering came from a company that produced motorcycles for just nine years before succumbing to the financial difficulties of the depression and disappearing. The bike was designed by Ing. Dauben, an automobile engineer who would later go on to work for Mercedes-Benz.
The four cylinder engine featured oil-cooling and an overhead-camshaft but most significantly, was used as a stressed member of the frame. The crankcase and cylinder block were combined in a monumental alloy casting, to which the steering head was directly bolted, while four straight tubes supported the rear wheel. The latter was driven by shaft while the front was mounted in a leaf-sprung, trailing-link fork. Smoothly styled, with all its oil lines internal, Dauben’s engine was an over-square design of 63x60 mm bore/stroke that produced its maximum output of 22 bhp at 4,000 rpm. The unit was renowned for its smoothness and flexibility, enabling the Windhoff to be ridden at speeds as low as 6 mph without snatch.
60 – 1908 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank Single
US$198,000 August, 2007Pebble Beach, U.S.
The Strap Tank Single was the original production line manufactured by Harley Davidson from 1904 to 1918. Deriving its name from the two quart oil tank literally strapped atop the gas tank, it soon became known as The Silent Grey Fellow due to its quiet mufflers and Renault grey paint with carmine pin striping. This 1908 model featured a 26.8 cubic inch single cylinder engine and the Sager Cushion Ride forks which had first appeared on Harley Davidsons just one year before.
Discovered in a barn on an isolated farm in Wisconsin in 1941 by college student Dave Uihlein, the motorcycle was in dire need of restoration. It is believed this farm outside of Milwaulkee may indeed have been the motorcycle's original home. David Uihlein would go on to become an avid automotive collector, particularly of 1930's Indianapolis 500 race cars. He also founded the Harry Miller Meet, a national show and race car event held every year at the Milwaukee Mile for collectors and aficionados of antique race car engine designer Harry Miller.
The motorcycle underwent an exhaustive restoration and while the original tank and rims were replaced, the original items were sold with the motorcycle. Of the 450 motorcycles produced by Harley Davidson in 1908, there are only a dozen known to still exist and this machine is unquestionably one of the finest examples in existence.
61 – 1924 Montgomery-Anzani 8/38hp
US$194,739 (sold for £109,300) April, 2006Stafford, U.K.
A rare example of one of the most famous British ‘superbikes’ of the 1920s, this Anzani-engined Montgomery used a 57-degree, 8-valve, 997cc engine manufactured by British Anzani.
00 – 1962 Honda CR72 Production Racer
US$180,000 (sold after auction) January, 2009Las Vegas, U.S.
Auctioned by MidAmerica (now Mecum MidAmerica) No auction link available
As we’ve found in our dealings with some auction houses recently, not all of them deal off the top of the deck, and while Ron has given us an open invitation to verify any sales from MidAmerica and Mecum MidAmerica, not everyone is as transparently honest. Accordingly, the rules for this listing have been firmed up – it has to have sold at public auction to be on this list.
Honda’s 1962-63 CR72 250cc production race bikes never achieved much success on the track, a distinct contrast to the Cr93 125cc racing machines of the same era which were the first bikes to begin making a name for Honda at a grass-roots level. The rationale behind this model is unclear as there weren’t many examples at the dealerships and only a handful made it onto the streets. The 250cc DOHC engines featured a mish-mash of alloy and magnesium parts and there were multiple frame types. Rumours suggest this example went home to Japan after the sale.
62 – 1973 Harley-Davidson 750cc XRTT
US$187,500 January, 2009Las Vegas, U.S.
Auctioned by Mid-America (now Mecum)
Mid-America, which auctioned this bike, is now part of Mecum, and the on-line links to the Mid-America auction pages no longer work, but fortunately, this bike was auctioned twice. The first time it was auctioned was in March, 2006 by J. Wood & Company, where the bike fetched US$176,000 at an auction during Daytona Speed Week. It has hence been auctioned twice within the top 100 motorcycle prices of all-time and there's a good reason for that.
This is the final XRTT (of six in total he rode for Harley) upon which the indomitable Calvin Rayborn performed some near miraculous feats against bikes such as the Suzuki TR750, Kawasaki H2R and Yamaha TZ700 two-strokes, all bikes with far more horsepower.
This is also the bike which he rode in the 1972 U.K. versus U.S. Trans-Atlantic Challenge held during Easter, 1972. In those match races that year, on tracks he didn't know, he won three of the six races on a bike that had no right to be amongst the leaders, let alone the top step of the podium. See these home movies one and two of those races on YouTube and you'll see many of the stars of the period in the pits.
Rayborn was a star whose loyalty to the Harley-Davidson brand, then his untimely death, probably cost him a place in the Pantheon of World Road Racing. This article by Frank Melling also describes the XRTT and highlights the difficulties faced by Rayborn in matching bikes which often had a 40 mph top speed advantage.
Jerry Wood, who first auctioned this bike recalls finding it circa 2005: "I got a call from Peter Frank who I knew for many years when he started ERA and later WREA. Peter is married to Dick O' Brien's daughter. Peter told me that he and Patty wanted to sell the Harley XRTT that Dick had left Patty. They were not sure of it's history.
"When I got to their house, the bike was hanging from the ceiling. It had Cal's number on it and the foot pegs were wrapped in red shop rags safety wired to them. Cal had that done that to keep his feet from slipping off the rubber pegs when the bike "soiled" itself (it often developed oil leaks during races). Being both a racer and a fan, I knew that there was one five speed that Cal rode late in his career. I climbed up a ladder and counted the gears - it was the five speed, and hence the "Holy Grail."
"During my investigation documenting the bike, I spoke with Bill Werner. Bill told me that Dick had saved the bike and had asked Harley for it when he retired as racing boss at H-D. I had a copy of that letter from Dick to Harley. Bill verified that the frame was built for Cal and engine was the one that Cal used. Bill even had his notes and knew what races that engine was used in. Bill was involved in rebuilding the bike for Dick using the right historic parts that Dick had saved.
"The bottom line is that real factory race bikes rarely leave the factories hands as they were raced. This is the real deal and one of America's favorite racers rode it against the newer faster two strokes. We had Bill and Jay Springsteen at the auction on the block with the bike."(See main image).
63 – 1911 Harley-Davidson 7D twin
US$187,000 October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
Little information is available on this motorcycle, though it will be very similar to the bike which sold for US$283,400 in January, 2014 in Las Vegas by Mecum.
64 – 1914 Flying Merkel Model 471
US$181,500 November, 2013New York, U.S.
The history of this particular Flying Merkel was traced back as far the early 50's when it was owned by Shorty Tompkins, motorcycle racer & collector. Bearing a 1914 California license plate it is therefore assumed its first home was indeed in California. This wonderful example of the visually stunning Flying Merkels has received a painstakingly period-correct restoration. At the time of going to auction, the rebuilt engine had never been fired. Prior to sale it was shown just once, at the 2009 Newport Concours d’Elegance in Rhode Island, where it was awarded Best Bike.
65 – 1907 Indian Tri-car
US$181,500 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.
One of the true classics in the Cole collection, this 1907 Indian Tri-Car With Sedan Chair is for all intents, a chauffeured armchair. It was made in the period where personal transportation was still finding its way, and is possibly the only tri-car in the world from this period that retains its original chair and upholstery. Estimated to sell between $155,000 and $175,000, it fetched $181,500
66 – 1930 Harley-Davidson Factory Hillclimber
US$181,500 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.
One of Harley-Davidson's most successful and important racing machines, the "DAH" hillclimber is among the very few pre-Knucklehead OHV models produced, winning three national hillclimb titles. Only 25 of these specialised racers were produced between 1929-33, and this machine has a documented competition history ridden by Windy Lindstrom, and it was also used by sculptor Jeff Decker as a model for his famous statue "The Hillclimber," which sits outside the Harley-Davidson museum. The 1930 Harley-Davidson Factory Hillclimber sold for $181,500
67 – 1936 Harley-Davidson EL
US$165,000 January, 2014Las Vegas, U.S.
While the "Knucklehead" is recognized today as an iconic motorcycle, Harley was not confident of introducing such a radical machine and the EL wasn’t listed in the 1936 catalog or advertising. Indeed, the first production year saw significant changes and improvements to the EL, which vexes restorers to this day.
The EL was entirely new, from its frame to the engine, gearbox and overall styling. It was the first H-D with a duplex-tube frame, which gave terrific stability when riding, and of course, it was the first OHV Big Twin from Milwaukee for the street. H-D had built OHV bikes for racing since the ‘Teens, but their fragility kept the factory close to reliable F-Head and Flathead designs. Helping to keep the new OHV engine cool was Harley’s first recirculating oil system–a proper oil pump at last. The gearbox now had four speeds and a robust clutch. Most importantly, all this innovation was styled in a compact, sleek and streamlined package which could not be faulted. Its teardrop tanks, dash-mounted speedo and sleek fenders combined to create a picture we still hold of a modern motorcycle.
This first-year 1936 EL Knucklehead was restored by Ken Presson and judged a remarkable 99.75 at the Davenport AMCA meet (September of 1998 and 1999). It is as close to a perfect Knucklehead as is possible.
US$177,500 November, 2006 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1934 Indian Sport Scout sold for US$177,500 at a Bonhams sale of Steve McQueen Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles & Memorabilia in San Francisco in 2006. Another motorcycle in the top 100 with Steve McQueen as part of it's provenance, Indian was McQueen's favourite marque.
69 – 1955 Vincent Victor Series D prototype
US$176,801 (sold for GBP £107,100) April, 2011Stafford, U.K.
In 1955 Philip Vincent decided to make the Vincent the ultimate 'gentleman's motorcycle' by providing weather protection and enclosing the engine and gearbox, with the enclosed Rapide and Black Shadow to be known as the Black Knight and Black Prince respectively. A little over 200 of the enclosed V-twins were built before production ceased at the end of 1955, plus one enclosed 500cc single prototype – this machine.
70 – 1934 Harley-Davidson CAC
No image available US$176,550 January, 2011Las Vegas, U.S.
Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica No Image Available
US$176,000 August, 2011Pebble Beach, U.S.
Auctioned by Gooding & Co
Another ex-Steve McQueen motorcycle.
72 – 1952 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow
US$175,698 (sold for £113,500) April, 2013Stafford, U.K.
73 – 1978 Ducati 900 NCR
US$175,500 January, 2014Las Vegas, U.S.
Located close to the Ducati factory in the Borgo Panigale district of Bologna, Italy's NCR was Ducati's original, albeit external, racing department and the machine above is one of the small batch of 25 machines created by NCR for homologation purposes for the Formula 1 class of the 1978 Formula TT World Championships – the championship is now defunct, having largely been replaced by the World Superbike Championships in 1990.
Mike Hailwood rode one of this batch to his now-legendary comeback win at the Isle of Man in 1978, when he emerged from an 11-year self-imposed exile from mainstream motorcycle racing at the geriatric (at least in racing terms) age of 38 years. In winning, he averaged 108.51mph and set a new lap record of 110.62mph, beating Phil Read on a works Honda for the title.
This bike is from the same batch of machines which enabled Ducati to take the very first of its now 30 plus world titles. It was purchased in 1978 and stored, untouched, until in early 2014, it sold at auction for US$175,500 – it is accordingly, one of a very few modern motorcycles to have appreciated in value to Top 100 status.
74 – 1915 Harley-Davidson Twin
US$169,600 January, 2009Las Vegas, U.S.
Auctioned by Mid-America (now Mecum)
No Image available
75 – 1914 Flying Merkel
US$168,246 (sold for GBP £104,540) October, 2014Stafford, U.K.
This 1914 American classic was discovered in an Ohio barn in 1956 by one Mort Wood, who sold it on to a fellow 'antique motorcycle' enthusiast, Emmett Moore. It appears that ownership reverted to Mort Wood, for it was from him that the machine was purchased in 1994 by the late Bernard Thomas, proprietor of Antique American Motorcycles. In original condition when acquired, the Flying Merkel has been treated to a mechanical and light cosmetic rebuild but otherwise remains untouched.
Bernard Thomas rode the Flying Merkel in the 1995 Pioneer Run but sadly passed away later that same year. Since then it has been ridden by Bernard's close friend, and current proprietor of Antique American Motorcycles, Kevin Hellowell, completing the Run on five occasions between 1996 and 2000. Kevin also rode the machine for a feature published in The Classic Motor Cycle (February 2000 edition). Many Veterans are handicapped by the crudity of their transmission arrangements, but this Flying Merkel is equipped with one of the era's better solutions: a crankshaft-mounted Eclipse clutch that doubles as a variable-ratio gear. Top speed is in the region of 70mph, which was some going for any kind of road vehicle back in the Edwardian era.
Last ridden in March 2000 (on the Pioneer Run), the machine will require re-commissioning before returning to the road and was sold strictly as viewed.
76 – 1954 BMW Rennsport RS54 Sidecar
US$167,800 January, 2013Las Vegas, U.S.
This 1954 BMW Rennsport RS54 Sidecar is identical to the machine which won the 1954 World Sidecar Championship with subsequent evolutions of the machine dominating the title for the next six years.
77 – 1948 Indian 648 Big Base
US$165,000 June, 2008California, U.S.
One of only seven factory Big Base Daytona Scouts believed to exist and identical to the bike on which Floyd Emde won the 1948 Daytona 200 at a then record speed of 84.01 miles per hour. The Big Base took its name from its enlarged oil capacity, thanks to a large sump cast in the rear.
A milestone in the history of the Indian motorcycle in particular and one for motorcycling history in general, the Big Base was a success on all levels. Some 40 years later Indian 648 Big Base Scouts were still competing. The #41 racer seen here, restored by Jim Suter, went on to win twice at Daytona during the AHRMA series in the 1980s. One of only seven factory Big Base Daytona Scouts purported to exist, the bike wearing the #41 racing plate carries both factory pedigree and the aura of victory in battle. Professionally restored and exceedingly rare.
77 – 1901 Indian F-Head Single
US$165,000 October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
Auctioned by Gooding and CoNo auction link available
The first Indian prototype was completed on May 24, 1901 and shipped to Springfield to be demonstrated to investors on the famous Cross Street hill. Following a successful fund raising, the first machine was dismantled for evaluation and many of its parts used in the creation of two subsequent prototypes. One machine toured velodrome exhibitions throughout the northeast of the United States, while the third prototype, this machine, was shipped to London for the 1901 Stanley Bicycle Show.
This very significant motorcycle was originally sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection by Gooding & Co and fetched US$165,000. It was again auctioned in Bonhams 2011 Las Vegas sale where it sold for US$133,500.
77 – 1915 Militaire Four
US$165,000 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.
This 1915 Militaire Model 2 is a fascinating and unconventional four-cylinder motorcycle with an equally fascinating history as it was developed through several manufacturers. Estimated to fetch between $130,000 and $150,000, it sold for $165,000. Interestingly, the bike resold on the day of the auction for $65,000 more.
80 – 1966 URS 498cc Racing Sidecar
US$164,228 (sold for £102,700) October, 2010Stafford, U.K.
This 1966 URS 498cc Racing Sidecar Outfit won the World Sidecar Championship in 1968 in the hands of Helmut Fath and then again in 1971 in the hands of Horst Owesle.
81 – 1954 Vincent 998cc White Shadow Series-C
US$163,461 (sold for £81,800) April, 2007London, U.K.
The appeal of the Vincent, and the 120mph-plus Black Shadow in particular, lay in its ability to outperform just about every other vehicle on the road, and in the early post-war years there was nothing to compare with it. This was a time when the average family saloon was barely capable of reaching 70mph, and not until the advent of Jaguar’s XK120 was there a production sportscar that could live with the thundering v-twins from Stevenage. Not every Shadow-specification machine left the factory with the distinctive black-finished engine casings, with those few that did not being known as ‘White Shadows’ and identified by a ‘1A’ engine number prefix (Rapides are ‘1’, Black Shadows are ‘1B’). Only a relative handful of these White Shadows is known to exist today. This is such a machine.
82 – 1924 BMW 493cc R32
US$163,438 (sold for EUR109,250) November, 2009Germany
Designed by Chief Engineer Max Friz and launched in 1923, the R32 was the first motorcycle to be sold as a BMW and featured a 493cc, twin-cylinder, sidevalve, horizontally opposed twin, a configuration that would forever be associated with the marque.
83 – 1928 McEvoy-JAP 8/45hp 980cc V-twin
$162,678 (sold for £99,608) July, 2009 Henley, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
The McEvoy-JAP ranks highly amongst the most coveted British marques of the 1920s, having only been produced for five years, before the death of the company's major financial backer (practicing at the Isle of Man for the TT) saw the company wound up. In it's short-lived existence, the McEvoy name became a regular winner at Brooklands. This JAP-engined 1928 McEvoy 980cc V-twin was sold by Bonhams for £99,608 (US$162,678) in July, 2009.
84 – 1926 Coventry-Eagle Flying-8
$162,140 (sold for £106,780) April, 2015 Stafford, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
The similarities between the Brough Superior and Coventry Eagle Flying Eight are many, with the Coventry firm's Percy Mayo and George Brough having become acquainted while on active service during WWI. Percy was the son of Coventry Eagle's founder, Edmund Mayo and George Brough and he had based their friendship upon their similar taste in motorcycles.
This particular Flying-8 had been in the vendor's ownership for 28 years and was sold with a most substantial history file containing an old-style continuation logbook (issued 1945), expired MoTs, an original Coventry Eagle instruction book and range brochure (1924), restoration and maintenance notes, sketches, photocopied literature, press cuttings, photographs, invoices, correspondence, etc. It fetched £106,780 ($162,140) at Bonhams Stafford sale in April, 2015.
85 – 1909 Pierce Four
US$161,000 November, 2007San Francisco, U.S.
America’s first four-cylinder motorcycle, the Pierce was manufactured by the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company at its factory in Buffalo, New York. Although inspired by the Belgian FN four, one of which Percy Pierce had brought to the USA in 1908, the Pierce differed in detail design, its engine eschewing the FN’s "atmospheric" inlet valves in favor of mechanical side valves in "T-head" configuration, a arrangement FN themselves would later use.
According to its makers the Pierce would be, ‘Vibrationless, give motor car comfort and travel comfortably from a mere walking pace up to the speed of the motor car.’ It was not just its multi-cylinder engine that made the Pierce unusual; the frame too was novel, being constructed from 3½”-diameter steel tubes that housed fuel and oil, and, like the FN, final drive was by shaft. Early models employed direct drive, but from 1910 onwards a two-speed gearbox was standardized.
Fast and well made, the Pierce soon had a string of city-to-city endurance race wins to its credit. At the time of its motorcycle’s launch in 1909, Pierce-Arrow was embarking on a policy of building luxury cars only, many of which would come to be regarded as among America’s finest. This approach was reflected in the quality, and cost, of the Pierce motorcycle and would ultimately lead to its downfall. Priced at US$325 in 1909, it cost $400 when production ceased in 1913, at which time the basic Ford Model T was priced at $525.
This 1910 Pierce was subsequently auctioned at Quail Lodge in August, 2012, fetching $137,000.
85 – 1894/1895 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller
US$161,000 January, 2011Las Vegas, U.S.
Manufactured in Germany, the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller is of the utmost historical significance as the first powered two-wheeler to enter series production, and is the first such vehicle to which the name "motorcycle" (motorrad in German) was ever applied.
The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller motorcycle sounds like a modern motorcycle in its specification – twin-cylinder, four-valve, water-cooled, 1488cc engine – but it is indeed as unconventional as it is rare. Check out the diagram and you’ll see the rear wheel doubled as a pseudo flywheel and indeed, the piston connecting rods and the pushrods that actuate the valve gear are also attached to the rear wheel, there’s no clutch and no brakes. We did a full history of the machine on Gizmag a few years ago, complete with lots of links to articles and illustrations verifying its place in history.
87 – 1928 Brough Superior SS100
US$160,563 (Sold for £100,800) October, 2012London, U.K.
Auctioned by H and H
88 – 1934 Crocker Speedway Bike
US$159,500 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.
89 – 1940 Harley-Davidson EL
US$159,000 January, 2014Las Vegas, U.S.
As American motorcycle milestones go, it doesn't get much better than a Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. Introduced in 1936, the 61-cubic-inch (1000cc) V-twin with overhead valves and a recirculating oiling system was technologically advanced for its time.
90 – 1924 Brough Superior SS80
US$158,971 (sold for £100,500) October, 2011Stafford, U.K.
When this bike was purchased new in April 1924, it was the highest specification Brough Superior available – the SS100 was not to appear until later that year. In addition to being fitted with the new four-cam/twin-camshaft JAP sports engine and Brampton Number 2 forks, it was also supplied with the relatively uncommon Binks 'Mousetrap' competition carburettor, as fitted to the earliest SS80s. (Later SS80s featured Webb forks and 'touring' carburettors). Also fitted were the (now very rare) Binks matching twist-grips for ignition advance/retard and throttle, complete with matching rubber grips. To round off the specification, Robert MacDonald fitted the best available speedometer: a 100mph Bonniksen, complete with trip meter.
91 – 1954 Vincent Black Shadow
US$156,600 August, 2013 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo Auction Link Available
92 – 1931 Indian 402
US$153,959 (sold for GBP90,000) July, 2014 London, U.K. Auctioned by Coys
Indian is best known for its V-twins, but in 1927 it purchased Bill Henderson’s Ace Motor Company and began producing four cylinder machines based on the Ace. The Henderson bothers had previously produced Henderson motorcycles, then sold out to Excelsior, which was eventually closed down too. In July 1928, Indian introduced the 401 series, before upgrading it to the 402 series in 1929. This bike is a late 402 made in 1931 which has lived the majority of its life in an Italian collection.
93 – 1955 Vincent Black Prince Project
US$153,094 (sold for £91,100) June, 2014Oxford, U.K.
Ever since the Series-A's arrival in 1937, the Vincent v-twin had been synonymous with design innovation, engineering excellence and superlative high performance. So in September 1955 when it was revealed that production of the Stevenage-built machines would cease, the news stunned the motorcycling world. It had been decided that the firm's future lay in more profitable lines of manufacture, and just 100 more of the fabulous v-twins would be completed. By the time its demise was announced, Vincent's final twin – the Series-D – had been in production for just six months.
It had been Philip Vincent's belief that provision of ample weather protection combined with enclosure of engine and gearbox, would make the Vincent Series-D the ultimate "gentleman's motorcycle," though delayed delivery of the glassfibre panels - plus continuing demand for traditionally styled models - resulted in over half the production leaving the Stevenage factory in un-enclosed form. The enclosed Rapide and Black Shadow were known as Black Knight and Black Prince respectively. Other Series-D innovations included a new frame and rear suspension, a user-friendly centre stand, plus many improvements to the peerless v-twin engine. When production ceased in December 1955, around 460 Series-D v-twins had been built, some 200 of which were enclosed models.
First registered in June 1956, this Black Prince was sold with its original logbook recording one William Noble of Falmouth as first owner followed by three others, the last of whom, Roy Drawater (the current vendor's brother-in-law) purchased it in 1963. Around 1967 the Vincent was taken off the road for restoration but the project never got beyond disassembly and the machine has remained in dry storage for the last 47 years. Apparently virtually complete, the only noticeable deviation from standard being the "DMD Streamliner" front fairing.
94 – 1974 Ducati 750 SSUS$152,885 (sold for EUR114,371) February, 2013 Paris, France Auctioned by
The sportiest version of the original 750 Ducati, produced to celebrate the Ducati 1-2 victory of Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari in the 1972 Imola 200 Mile race. Ducati produced just 401 examples of the green-framed 72 hp Desmo 750 SS. There are currently two in the top 100 and no doubt there will be more.
95 – 1934 Crocker Speedway Bike
US$151,200 January, 2011Las Vegas, U.S.
96 – 1929 Brough Superior Overhead 680
US$150,155 (sold for £93,900) October, 2010Stafford, U.K.
US$150,000 November, 2006 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Indian was Steve McQueen's favourite brand, and this 1920 Indian Powerplus "Daytona" Racer was one of his favourites.
The old adage of "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" was never more prevalent than in the first decades of the 20th Century, and the competition was a major factor that greatly accelerated technological development. In Indian’s case, the need to stay ahead of rivals Excelsior and Harley-Davidson prompted the introduction of an eight-valve v-twin racer in 1911 and then in 1916 a new 1,000cc "flat head" (sidevalve) v-twin – the Powerplus – was introduced to replace the production "F-head" (inlet over exhaust) type. It sold for US$150,000 at a Bonhams sale of Steve McQueen Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles & Memorabilia in San Francisco in 2006.
98 – 1913 Henderson Four
US$148,500October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
William and Thomas Henderson formed the Henderson Motorcycle company in 1911, producing a prototype that same year, then creating a 934cc (57 cubic inch) in-line four-cylinder motorcycle which went into production in January 1912, guaranteeing the success of the company with its smoothness and power, despite its high price of $325. Sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection.
99 – 1969 Honda CB750 Prototype
US$148,100February, 2014Internet Auction only
Auctioned by EBay
The highest-priced Japanese bike on the list, this 1969 Honda CB750 Prototype sold for US$148,100 on eBay in February, 2014. It's also the highest priced bike sold at an internet-only auction.
100 – 1915 Indian 8-valve Racer
US$147,125August, 2010Pebble Beach, U.S.
101 – 1952 Vincent Series-C Rapide
US$145,750 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S.
102 – 1929 Brough Superior Overhead 680
US$145,727 (sold for GBP £98,300) June, 2010Oxford, U.K.
103 – 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross
US$144,500 May, 2011Pebble Beach, U.S.
104 – 1946 Indian Chief
US$143,750 August, 2013Los Angeles, U.S.
In the book McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon by Matt Stone, McQueen biographer William Nolan conveys that in the fall of 1951, McQueen had saved enough money to buy a battered cycle with a sidecar (removed at an unstated time), which he proudly tooled around the (Greenwich) Village. "It was my first bike and I loved it," admitted Steve. "But I was going with a girl who began to hate the cycle – just hated riding in the bumpy sidecar. She told me, 'Either the cycle goes or I go!' Well, there was no contest. She went.” That battered cycle was this 1946 Indian Chief. It previously sold for $90,950 in a Mid America Las Vegas auction in January, 2008.
105 – 1972 MV Agusta 750S
US$143,661 (sold for £85,500) April, 2014Stafford, U.K.
A classic in the making from the time it was first introduced, the MV Agusta 750S had the countless world titles of the MV Agusta marque, a motor and frame with Grand Prix heritage, and stunning good looks. It was only a matter of time before one appeared on this list and there will be more.
106 – 1912 Pierce Flat-belt single
US$143,640January, 2013Las Vegas, U.S.
107 – 1925 Brough Superior SS80
US$143,349 (sold for £79,600) September, 2008London, U.K.
108 – 1913 Flying Merkel
US$143,000 October, 2006Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Auctioned by J. Wood & CoNo auction link available
108 – 1915 Iver Johnson
US$143,000 October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
Auctioned by Gooding & CoNo Image available
Sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection.
108 – F.B. Mondial 250 Bialbero 250cc Grand Prix Racer
US$143,000 December, 2013New York, U.S.
Auctioned by RM Auctions and Sothebys
The winning bike in the 1957 World 250cc Motorcycle Championship, this F.B. Mondial 250 Bialbero GP bike is one of three bikes produced - the three DOHC single-cylinder machines finished in the first three places of the championship with Cecil Sandford, Tarquinio Provini and Sammy Miller aboard, before Mondial withdrew from Grand Prix Racing at the end of the year.
108 – 1928 Excelsior Big Bertha
US$143,000 March, 2015Las Vegas, U.S.
112 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
US$139,208 (sold for £82,880) April, 2014Duxford, U.K.
Auctioned by H & H
113 – 1995 Ferrari 900cc
US$139,066 (sold for £85,500) April, 2012Stafford, U.K.
When David Kay (of Kay Engineering (MV Meccanica Verghera), world famous for its re-creations of classic MV Agustas and other exotica) set about building this unique piece of engineering from scratch, he asked for and received the blessing of Ferrari, then set about the most exquisitely detailed one-off machine one can imagine, with over 3,000 hours of his time.
The engine is a "scratch built" 900cc, transverse, double overhead camshaft, four cylinder, eight valve unit with magnesium and alloy casings, driven through a five speed gearbox. The tubular chassis is made of Reynolds 531 tube, engineering on the motorcycle is irreproachable and the detail is quite astounding. The Kay family is responsible for the construction of two bikes in this top 100 listing and a third (another Gilera replica) which sits just outside the top 100.
114 – 1925 BMW R32
US$139,000 April, 2011Pebble Beach, U.S
115 – 1957 Gilera 500cc GP Racer Re-creation
US$138,667 (sold for GBP £84,000) April, 2011Stafford, U.K.
Gilera dominated the first eight years of the premier 500cc class of Grand prix racing, unluckily losing the first championship in 1949, then winning in 1950, finishing second in 1951, then winning in 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1957.
With the surviving works Gilera fours either in museums or private collections, and thus extremely unlikely ever to be offered for public sale, it was perhaps inevitable that the revival of interest in classic motorcycle racing would lead to the construction of replicas of these precious thoroughbreds. Gilera's Grand Prix four had reached the zenith of its development by 1957, making that year's model the obvious choice for replication.
Completed in 2003, the remarkable re-creation of a 1957 Gilera 500cc GP Racer offered here is the work of Kay Engineering (MV Meccanica Verghera). The machine is the fourth of six made by MV Meccanica Verghera using a genuine ex-works 1957 Gilera 500 four, on loan from Italy, for guidance.
116 – 1912 Marsh Metz
US$137,500 October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
Sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection, this is one of America's most important motorcycles, the Marsh Metz was one of the many wonderful inventions to come from the fertile mind of Charles Herman Metz, one of the pioneers of the American motorcycle industry. Metz co-founded America's first motorcycle company, the "Waltham Manufacturing Company" (WMC) in 1893. Waltham began manufacturing bicycles, expanding into motorcycle manufacturing just before the turn of the century, and subsequently into automobile production.
Metz is believed to have coined the term "motorcycle," first using it in an 1899 advertisement for the company's new Orient motorcycle. Waltham Manufacturing's 1900 Orient Light Roadster and "Orient-Aster" were America's first mass-production motor driven cycles, and in July 1900, at the Charles River Race Track in Boston, the Orient covered a five mile distance in seven minutes (42.86 mph).
In 1902, Metz left WMC to begin the Metz Motorcycle Company (MMC) and his new Metz set an American speed record of 51.42 mph over a one mile course. In 1906 Metz merged with the Marsh Co. to create the "American Motorcycle Company" and the 1000cc V-twin Marsh-Metz motorcycle was introduced in 1908. It was the finest motorcycle available at that time. More information at the Waltham Museum and The World of Motorcycles.
116 – 1911 Minneapolis Model N Tricar
US$137,500 October, 2006Los Angeles, U.S.
Sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection, this 1911 Minneapolis Model N Tricar has a special place in the history of the American motorcycle, having emanated from the Michaelson Motorcycle Company, a pioneering company in what was once the home of motorcycle companies such as Wagner, Thiem, and Cyclone. The four Michaelson brothers (Jack, Walter, Joe and Anton) developed a motorcycle whose design was one of the freshest and most advanced of its time, and the tri-car one of the most cost-efficient in the world at the time.
116 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
US$137,500 August, 2010Pebble Beach, U.S.
Auctioned by Gooding & Co
116 – 1914 Pope Model K
US$137,500 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S.
120 – 1937 Brough Superior SS100
US$137,000November, 2005San Francisco, U.S.
120 – 1973 Ducati 750SS
US$137,000 January, 2014Las Vegas, U.S.
When Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari scored their famous 1-2 victory at the Imola 200 in 1972, Ducati's V-twin dynasty began.
Just over 400 of the resulting 750SS Green Frame street versions were produced in 1973-74, though how many have survived the ensuing 40 years is unclear. It didn't take long for attrition to thin the numbers as racers utilized the lusty horsepower delivered by the unique desmodromic valvetrain and massive 40mm carburetors. In the United States, the exploits of Cycle's 750SS road racer, tuned by Phil Schilling and ridden by Cook Neilson, were detailed in the pages of the magazine, helping spread the word. This culminated in 1977 when Neilson smashed all comers in the hotly contested Daytona Superbike race on the 750SS, now highly modified, displacing 883cc and nicknamed "Ol' Blue."
Subsequently, Ducati dealers were urged to put these units in the hands of people who would profile them on racetracks. Race kits and cams were available over the counter to heighten performance. Consequently, racing took its toll as all quests for speed do, and it soon became difficult to find a stock example. Crankcases were destroyed or altered, frames got modified to gain a handling edge, fiberglass fuel tanks deteriorated under the stress of racing and were replaced.
This bike is a complete and correctly restored 750SS from the Silverman Museum.
122 – 1959 Benelli 248cc GP Racer
$135,420 (Sold for £71,900)October, 2006 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This machine is one of only four final-specification Benelli 250cc singles built initially for the 1959 season. An accompanying letter (dated 1994) from famous Benelli collector Giancarlo Morbidelli to this machine’s owner reveals that of the other three, ‘GPX1002’ is owned by Mr Morbidelli himself and one (‘GPX1001’) is owned by Ing. Radice in Bergamo, Italy, while the fate of the final example (‘GPX1004’) is unknown.
Restored in 1990 and again in 2005, the machine was sold with a quantity of spare parts including an original, unrestored fairing. Included in the sale are restoration photographs and copies of magazine articles featuring ‘GPX1003’, which also appears in Mick Duckworth’s book, Classic Racing Motorcycles.
Although no details of ‘GPX1003’s competition career have as yet been confirmed, it almost certainly possesses significant race history. Much more detail on the official auction page.
123 – 1938 Harley-Davidson WLD Sport
$135,000November, 2013 Anaheim, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
Another bike formerly owned by the late Steve McQueen. Beyond that, the 1938 Harley-Davidson WLD Sport was presented at auction in entirely original condition, with the original factory paint, McQueen’s personal tools found wrapped in a piece of denim in the frame mounted tool box, original bill of sale from the McQueen estate sale, odometer statement from estate sale, original auction catalog from estate sale (lot 535 at the 1984 McQueen estate sale), a 1984 Certificate of Authenticity and photos of McQueen with the bike. Like McQueen, the real deal. The 1938 WLD Sport sold for $135,000.
123 – 1955 Vincent Black Prince
$135,000January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
One of 120 made, the legendary Black Prince was launched to great fanfare at the 1954 Earls Court Show. Philip Vincent described the fully-enclosed motorcycle as a "two-wheeled Bentley." This bike was made in the final year of Vincent motorcycles, and was sold for $135,000 at Mecum MidAmerica's Las Vegas auction in January, 2014.
125 – 1952 Vincent Black Shadow
$134,800January, 2013 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Sold new into the United States, this pristine 1952 Vincent Black Shadow was sold with a complete history for $134,800 at a Bonhams Las Vegas sale in January, 2013.
126 – 1963 Moto Morini 250cc Bialbero Grand Prix
$134,594October, 2013 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
127 – 1914 Henderson Model C Four
$134,252April, 2014 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
128 – 1973 Ducati 750SS
$134,250January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This low-mileage (3000 miles) original 1973 Ducati 750SS with only the addition of stainless-steel spokes and a Grimeca master brake cylinder from standard, sold for $134,250 at Bonhams' 2014 Las Vegas sale. Its engine internals are untouched from stock, with the factory wire seal still in place.
129 – 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller
$132,550April, 2010 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
130 – 1906 Curtiss 5 HP Twin
$132,000October, 2006 Los Angeles, U.S. Auctioned by Gooding & CoNo auction link available
130 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
$132,000August, 2013 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Gooding & Co
130 – 1917 Henderson Four Generator
$132,000March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1917 Henderson Four with the rare and expensive generator option was built in the last year of the ‘true’ Hendersons. It was sold as part of the EJ Cole collection for $132,000
133 – 1939 BMW R51RS
$130,200January, 2011 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
134 – 1953 Vincent Black Shadow
$129,600August, 2012 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo image available
135 – 1923 Ace Four
$128,400August, 2010 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo image available
136 – 1952 Vincent Black Shadow
$127,191October, 2012 London, U.K. Auctioned by RM
This beautifully restored matching-numbers 1952 Series C Black Shadow was completed on 31st October 1952, and the vendor was just the fourth owner from new. First registered on March 9, 1953, the bike carries its original license plate, and was sold with a detailed and thorough history file. Stored from 1963–2007, it was then completely restored from the ground-up and featured in Classic Bike magazine in 2008. It has since been twice voted Best Twin at Vincent Owners Club rallies.
137 – 1914 Sears Dreadnought
$126,750September, 2001 Chicago, U.S. Auctioned by Sothebys
No auction link availableNo image available
In the years prior to WW1, the dreadnought was the ultimate armoured battleship with fearsome firepower and steam turbine speed and it was hence an important symbol of national power. It is hence not surprising that when Sears decided to include mail-order motorcycles in its catalogues, it chose the name for its most powerful model.
138 – 1911 Flying Merkel Model 50
$126,500October, 2006 Los Angeles, U.S. Auctioned by Gooding & CoNo auction link available
This restored 1911 Flying Merkel Model 50 was sold as part of the Otis Chandler Collection by Gooding & Co in 2006 and fetched US$126,500.
138 – 1914 Indian 'Hendee Special' 7 HP Twin
$126,500March, 2014 Amelia Island, U.S. Auctioned by RM Auctions
This 61 cu. in. twin-cylinder Indian 'Hendee Special' is indeed a very special motorcycle as it was sold in 100-year-old, unrestored, completely original and still running condition. Perhaps even more significantly, the model is one of just a few surviving examples of a very rare mode: the first motorcycle with an electric starter.
Indian was the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world at the time of this motorcycle's production, having produced 31,950 units in 1913, and enjoying a reputation for reliability and innovation. In the Springfield firm’s most innovative technological step yet, Indian debuted the Hendee Special for the 1914 model year. The Hendee Special featured the company’s seven-horsepower, 61-cubic inch Twin engine in the now-standard cradle-spring frame, and it was also equipped with an electric starter, electric lighting, and an electric horn. The model was advertised for $325.
While sound in its engineering, the Hendee Special came too far ahead of its time. Battery technology during the mid-1910s was not sufficient for day-to-day operation, and batteries would often become completely exhausted after only a few dozen starts. Due to the public’s dissatisfaction from repeated battery failures, the factory halted production of the new model in March 1914, and the rest of the 1914 model year featured machines built without electric equipment. The financial loss to the company was more than considerable, as an estimated $100,000 was expended for the model’s development the previous year. Further, an electric starter would not return to motorcycling for another four decades.
138 – 1949 Vincent Rapide w Blacknell Bullet Sidecar
$126,500January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1949 Touring Rapide with fully matching numbers is a good example of the work performed by Harris Vincent Gallery, restored both mechanically and cosmetically at the shop from boxes of disassembled parts. During the rebuild it was teamed with one of the deluxe Blacknell Bullet sport sidecars which Vincent installed on some bikes – in this case, the sidecar's frame number indicates it was originally factory-fit to a Black Shadow. Fully restored by Harris Vincent Gallery, the host Rapide was equipped with correct Touring items such as wider Dunlop wheels, touring handlebars and, of course, the very rare and correct attachment hardware connecting sidecar to bike. The bike has also been discreetly outfitted with a modern aftermarket electric starter, as well as retaining a functional kick starter.
138 – 1915 Iver Johnson twin
In 1914, armament and motorcycle manufacturer Iver Johnson revealed a V-twin of very clean design. The motor, which was a stressed member of the frame, was an unusual 60 degree V-twin sidevalve design of 7.5 HP (62 cu-in./1020cc) capacity. The crankshaft featured two offset crankpins arranged so both cylinders fired at the same point. The effect was a different ‘sound’ than any other V-twin – more like a British parallel twin. While the Iver Johnson motorcycle was lauded in the press, in 1916 the company dropped ‘Cycle Works’ ceased motorcycle production as World War I ramped up. This 1915 Iver Johnson twin is fully restored, with a two-speed planetary drive on the crankcase and is a rare example of this beautifully built motorcycle. It was purchased from the Bud Ekins collection and was restored by Richard Morris. Estimated at $80,000 to $95,000, it sold for $126,500.
138 – 1920 Ace Four
When the Henderson brothers sold the Henderson motorcycle to Ignatz Schwinn in 1917, both brothers quickly moved onwards, with Thomas traveling to Europe, and Bill deciding to build a new and better four-cylinder motorcycle. That bike became the Ace. The Ace 4 retained an F-head cylinder, and increased in displacement of 75 cu-in. (1220cc), with splash lubrication and a three-speed gearbox for an output of 20 hp. This 1920 Ace 4 is an older restoration, and bears the earliest Ace serial number known. Lot S78 was estimated at $85,000 to $125,000 and sold for $126,500.
138 – 1915 Pope Model L
While its twin-cylinder OHV engine was introduced in 1912, the chassis of the Pope lineup was changed in 1913 with a more modern ‘look,’ with squared-off pannier fuel tanks and deeply valanced fenders; the new Pope Model L. Pope motorcycles had a 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) top speed, and the Model L was the fastest production motorcycle in the world when it was introduced. It was also expensive at $250 – the same price as a Model T, although few automobiles could keep up with a Pope… and obviously few motorcycles! The OHV Pope pushed its rivals to look for more speed from their F-head engines and Indian to jump ship to sidevalve motors. The Model L featured a 61 cu-in. (1000cc) motor with Schebler carb and many options, including a two-speed countershaft transmission with Eclipse clutch, and even rear springing via a large plunger spring system at the rear axle. It was rated as an 8 HP model, but actually produced 15.4 HP at the engine, and 13.9 HP at the rear wheel. This 1915 Pope Model L is an older restoration of this hugely important American motorcycle, the first OHV production V-twin, which was only produced until 1918. Popes are very rare. Lot S83 was estimated to sell at $80,000 to $95,000, and eventually sold for $126,500.
138 – 1935 Indian 435 Four
This 1935 Indian Model 435 four-cylinder is a magneto-igniton model and a rare machine, being produced for only half a year, before the new (and unloved) ‘upside down’ engine was introduced. It bears the beautifully skirted fenders and streamlined tank, which made the mid-'30s Indian range among the most beautiful motorcycles ever built. Estimated at $75,000 to $90,000, it sold for $126,500
145 – 1954 BMW Rennsport RS54
$126,000January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
In 1953-1954, BMW offered well-heeled professionals a genuine production racer, closely modeled on its factory race machines. This bike is believed to be one of only 24 RS54s built, weighs 130kg (286lb) and contains a DOHC racing engine producing a nominal 45hp. The Norton 'Manx' produced around 50hp, but was 10kg (22lbs) heavier. This 1954 BMW Rennsport RS54 sold for $126,000 at Bonhams' Las Vegas sale in January, 2014.
145 – 1923 Indian Big Chief with sidecar
$126,000January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This fully-restored first-year 1923 Indian Big Chief was formerly the property of movie star and passionate motorcyclist Steve McQueen, and was restored by Kenny Howard, aka 'Von Dutch.' It sold for $126,000 at Bonhams' Las Vegas sale in January, 2014.
147 – 1929 Harley-Davidson 21ci Peashooter
$125,800January, 2011 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Australia is a big country and there have been many rumours of buried treasure over the last century, the vast majority proving to be untrue. Hence when A.L. Bicker decided to track down the source of stories he'd heard of a Harley-Davidson still in the crate in the Australian "outback", he must have been aware he was embarking on a most likely fruitless endeavour.
He eventually found this bike in a wooden crate in the underground men's room of a remote mine near Kalgoorlie in Western Australia – a genuine overhead valve factory racer. This bike sold for $125,800 in Las Vegas in January, 2011.The full story can be found here.
148 – 1957 Ducati GP125
$125,404 (Sold for GBP£77,000)April, 2011 Pavilion Gardens, U.K. Auctioned by H&H Classic
One of the first Ducati racing machines designed by Fabio Taglioni, the 125 GP was introduced in 1956 with two gear-driven overhead camshafts, producing 16 hp at 11,500 rpm but suffering from reliability issues at sustained high revs. Taglioni responded to these problems by replacing the valve springs with desmodromic valve gear on a batch of works machines built during 1956.
1957 became a season of development for the works bikes, but also afforded the factory the opportunity to develop a batch of refined Bialbero's for privateers. The new model adopted a new full frame with two lower rails closing off the previously open front frame. Approximately fifty examples are believed to have been built between 1957 and 1959 the new machine quickly established itself as the most competitive 125 class motorcycle available to privateers.
This example of the Ducati 125 Grand Prix was purchased by the vendor in 1980 from a Swiss collector and is pictured in Mick Walkers book "The Ducati Racing Story" on page 44. The bike sold in original condition, described as being "ready to use". The engine has been rebored from its original 55.25 to 58mm which combines with a 52mm stroke to give a displacement of 138cc. An original dustbin fairing and copper seat unit were included with the machine which sold for GBP£77,000 ($125,404) in April, 2011 at H&H Classic auctions Pavilion Gardens sale.
149 – 1912 Indian 61ci Board-Track Racer
$124,700November, 2007 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
The very first motorcycle to leave the Springfield factory in 1912, this 61ci (1000cc) Indian V-twin board-tracker was raced originally in the Mount Rainier area of Washington State. It was sold in complete, unrestored and original condition for US$124,700 in November, 2007.
150 – 1945 NSU Kettenkrad
$123,483 (Sold for GBP£67,500)September, 2008 Goodwood, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This Kettenkrad was an ingenious half motorcycle, half tracked vehicle, designed and manufactured for the German Wehrmacht during WW2. The handlebar has a twist-grip throttle, just like a motorcycle, but the transmission was car-type, incorporating a three-speed gearbox and foot operated clutch. There were high and low transmission ranges: ‘Gelande’ - off-road and ‘Strasse’ – street, for a total of six speeds. The engine was the super reliable 1,478cc inline water-cooled unit from the Opel Olympia car, also in use with the Wehrmacht. The tracked system was very advanced, using roller bearings and padded tracks. This gave rise to an extraordinary top speed of 50mph on road surfaces, making it the fastest tracked vehicle of WW2.
151 – 1953 Vincent Black Shadow
$122,500January, 2012 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
151 – 1955 Vincent Black Prince
$122,500January, 2012 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
153 – 1967 Seeley-URS 500cc Racer
$122,011 (Sold for GBP£76,300)October, 2010 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This is the prototype 1967 Seeley-URS 500cc factory racer, raced by John Blanchard and Tony Jefferies, built by Colin Seeley Racing Developments in collaboration with German sidecar racer and engine builder, Helmut Fath. It sold for GBP£76,300 (US$122,011) at Bonhoms' Staffordshire sale in 2010.
154 – 1972 Ducati 750SS Imola (Spaggiari)
$121,250September, 2001 Chicago, U.S. Auctioned by Sothebys
With Bruno Spaggiari aboard, this bike finished second in the 1972 Imola 200 mile race on April 23, 1972, the event which launched Ducati onto the world stage. The bike crossed the line just behind the identical machine of Paul Smart, giving Ducati a 1-2 finish and beating Giacomo Agostini's MV Agusta, plus the best that Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, BSA, Laverda and Moto Guzzi could offer.
More significantly, the race signified the beginning of the Ducati racing dynasty that saw its big desmodromic V-twins dominate superbike racing for four decades.
This is a significant example of the first of a new breed of Ducati and its desmodromic valve system. Horsepower has a direct relationship with the revolutions per minute that an engine can turn. There are many factors which conspire to limit the rpm an engine can reliably achieve, but valve gear has had the greatest influence over the last century.
The inlet and exhaust valves in an internal combustion engine are usually opened mechanically, and closed with a spring. Springs worked well at low and medium rpm, but at high revolutions, the spring has trouble closing the valve, whereas the mechanical desmodromic system achieves the desired result with unerring precision. More on the history of desmodromic valve actuation and that race in this previous article about the sale at auction of an identical reserve factory bike on that fateful day.
This bike's engine number is 01 and the frame number is 02. In terms of historical significance, this bike is pure gold. The same bike failed to meet reserve at auction in 2006.
155 – 1916 Pope
$121,000October, 2006 Los Angeles, U.S. Auctioned by Gooding
155 – 1913 Minneapolis Model S-2 Deluxe twin
$121,000 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
The four Michaelson brothers (Jack, Walter, Joe and Anton) developed a motorcycle whose design was one of the freshest and most advanced of its time - this 1913 Minneapolis Two Speed V-twin was developed in a hot-bed of motorcycling innovation which was once the home of motorcycle companies such as Wagner, Thiem, and Cyclone. Lot S72 was estimated to sell between $150,000 and $170,000 and sold for $121,000.
157 – 1939 Vincent Series A Rapide
$120,500November, 2005 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This ultra-rare, matching-numbers Series-A Vincent twin was one of the last of its kind produced before production ceased due to WW2 in 1939. It sold as pictured, without fuel tank, valve springs and retainers, but in otherwise original condition, for $120,500 in 2005.
158 – 1953 Vincent Black Shadow
$119,197 (Sold for GBP£70,940)April, 2014 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1953 Series-C Black Shadow shipped new to the Indian Sales Corporation in San Francisco, Vincent's US importer at that time. An older restoration, the machine was purchased by the vendor in September 2005 and saw little use in the years prior to this sale due of the owner's deteriorating health, though it had been kept in dry storage and started regularly. Serviced just prior to the auction and said to run well, the machine sold for GBP£70,940 ($119,197) in April, 2014 at Bonhams' Staffordshire sale.
159 – 1955 Vincent Black Shadow
$118,155 (Sold for GBP£57,600)October, 2007 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
Dating from February 1955, this matching numbers machine was the final Series C Black Shadow produced and thus of exceptional significance in the history of the Vincent motorcycle. Purchased new from South London dealer, Jack Surtees (father of John Surtees), the machine was sold for GBP£57,600 ($118,155) in 2007 with a detailed ownership history, original papers and owners manual, a genuine 29,000 miles on the clock, fully restored and running as well as it did in 1955.
160 – 1928 McEvoy-JAP 8/45hp
$117,512 (Sold for GBP£66,400)October 16, 2005 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A regrettably short lived marque, McEvoy produced machines from 1925 to 1929, its most famous creations being the fearsome Anzani and JAP-powered v-twin racers which achieved numerous successes at Brooklands in both solo and sidecar trim, helping to establish an enviable reputation for the fledgling concern.
In 1926 McEvoy’s range expanded to included a JAP 8/45hp overhead-valve v-twin, a state-of-the-art super-sports model guaranteed capable of 100mph. That same year the company was joined by ex-Brough man George Patchett joining as Competitions Manager and C A ‘Archie’ Birkin, brother of ‘Bentley Boy’ Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, whose responsibility was to provide and secure financial backing.
It had been McEvoy’s intention to produce bespoke motorcycles for wealthy and discerning customers in the manner of George Brough, but whereas Brough’s pre-eminent position meant that he never had to deviate from this policy, McEvoy was soon adding models to cover almost every capacity class. His ambition remained undiminished and in 1928 McEvoy exhibited an all-new four-cylinder model plus a range of overhead-cam singles at Olympia. In reality though, these were little more than mocked-up prototypes and none ever reached production. Earlier in the year Archie Birkin had lost his life practising for the TT races at the Isle of Man, and the loss of its major investor proved a crippling blow for McEvoy, with the company wound up.
This 1928 McEvoy-JAP 8/45hp was featured in Old Bike magazine (Issue 20, Winter 1996/97) and its frame number ‘8’ was manufactured in January of 1928, while the JAP engine’s ‘KTOR’ prefix identifies it as the legendary 980cc overhead-valve racing unit. Elsewhere the McEvoy incorporates the best proprietary components available including Sturmey-Archer three-speed close-ratio gearbox, heavyweight Webb forks and Royal Enfield cush drive rear hub. The handlebar controls and twin-float Amal carburettor are later modifications thought to date from the 1950s. It was sold for GBP£66,400 ($117,512) in October, 2005 at Bonhams' Staffordshire sale.
161 – 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Big Twin
$117,300 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Harley-Davidson offered both a single or twin-cylinder model in 1912, with the X8E being Harley's top of the range model, costing $10 more than the standard 6.5hp twin's $310. Late-1912 8hp Harley twins are rare, as mid-year the engine capacity was increased from 49 cubic inches to a full 61 cubic inches to create the first Big Twin. This ex-McQueen matching-numbers 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Big Twin was purchased at the 1984 Steve McQueen estate auction and was sold with a certificate of authenticity. It is believed that McQueen rode this Harley in at least one Pre-1916 event.
The 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Big Twin comes with a distinctive paint scheme. Legend has it that former owner Steve McQueen and his buddy Von Dutch rattle-can painted the bike red during a late-night drinking session, and virtually guarantees the bike will forever retain its impromptu paint job with what appears to be the original factory paint beneath. This Big Twin was sold in full running condition for $117,300 at Bonhams Las Vegas sale in January, 2015.
162 – 1975 Ducati 750SS 'Round Case'
$117,000May, 2008 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
162 – 1916 Excelsior "Big Valve X" Board-Tracker
$117,000January, 2011 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
As debut stories go, they don't come much better than that of the Excelsior X board-tracker. Rolled out in June of 1915, the X served notice to the Harley-Davidson and Indian squads with a convincing win in a 300-mile relay race in Boston. Soon after, rider Carl Goudy saddled up an X and hits the boards at the Maywood Motordrome in Chicago, shattering all existing records for a 300-mile race – his nearest competitor was four laps behind!
The secret to the X's speed was in its cylinder heads. Although it ran conventional two-valve heads, the intake valves were a whopping 2½ inches across, giving the bike it's "Big Valve X" nickname, most often shortened to simply Big X.
This Big X is one of around five complete bikes known to exist, and almost certainly started life as a factory racebike. From that point on, its history is only conjecture. A previous owner of this bike, a respected restoration expert, is convinced the Excelsior passed into the hands of a hard-riding privateer racer, as many of the former factory bikes did. In this rider's care the X was the recipient of in-the-field modifications, notably a 1916 Indian rear wheel assembly complete with a useful drum brake, plus a leaf-spring front end from another Excelsior model. From the factory, X's were brakeless and had a rigid girder fork.
Discovered on rotted wheels in Billings, Montana, this 1916 Excelsior "Big Valve X" Board-Tracker received replacement rims, spokes and wheel bearings. Its clutch was rebuilt, its handlebars rebrazed and several minor missing components sourced or made. So as to not stand out, the few new parts were "patina'ed" to match the weathered finish of the rest of the bike. The 61-cubic-inch (1000cc) engine, running the largest carburettor Schebler ever made, was left untouched and unstarted. It sold for $117,000 at Bonhams' 2011 Las Vegas sale.
162 – 1913 Flying Merkel Model Seventy Twin
$117,000January, 2011 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
One of the rare icons of early American motorcycling history, this authentic, original and unrestored 1913 Flying Merkel is a pedal-start-only Model Seventy road bike with a 7hp, belt-drive V-Twin displacing 61 cubic inches (1000cc). This motorcycle had been on static display in an important Long Island collection since March, 2003 when it sold at Bonhams' 2011 Las Vegas auction for $117,000.
165 – 1955 NSU Sportmax
$116,634 (sold for GBP£69,440)April, 2014 Imperial War Museum, Duxford, U.K. Auctioned by H&H Classic Auctions
NSU withdrewal from racing at the end of the 1954 season, announce the release of the new single cylinder 250cc Sportmax at the same time. The Sportmax produced 28 hp @ 9,000 rpm and gave many a privateer their first results over the coming years. This bike is arguably the most successful Sportmax in history, having given two of the all-time-greats their Grand Prix results.
It was purchased by John Surtees in 1955, using the machine to win races at Crystal Palace and Silverstone in addition to his victory at the Ulster Grand Prix which represented his first World Championship Grand Prix win.
Towards the end of 1957 he sold the machine to Stan Hailwood who employed well–known race technician Bill Lacey to prepare the bike for a young Mike Hailwood to race. The NSU and Mike were despatched by Stan, together with experienced racer Dave Chadwick as mentor, to South Africa for the winter to gain experience, a period that saw Mike win every race he contended, securing lap records at every track in the process. On its return to the UK the machine was finished in the distinctive red Ecurie Sportive livery ready for the 1958 season. During the season 18-year-old Mike achieved 34 podium places including 25 wins, gaining his first World Championship points and his first world championship podium finish in the 1958 250 TT.
This 1955 NSU Sportmax was sold by H&H Classic Auctions at its Imperial War Museum sale in April, 2014 for GBP£69,440 (US$116,634).
166 – 1953 Vincent Black Shadow
$116,402 (Sold for GBP£58,700)April, 2008 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
With only three owners from new at the time of sale, this is a totally genuine all-matching-numbers 1953 Vincent Black Shadow with known history from new and several subsequent concours wins to its credit. It sold for GBP£58,700 ($116,402) at Bonhams' Staffordshire sale in April, 2008.
167 – 1949 Vincent Black Shadow
$115,500April, 2014 Houston, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This very early Series-C Black Shadow came from the Mike Doyle collection, and is the last year when the HRD marque was also used. It sold at a Mecum MidAmerica auction in Houston, 2014 for $115,500.
167 – 1909 Pierce Four
Percy Pierce was the son of the founder of the Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company, George N Pierce, and when the company decided to produce motorcycles in 1907, Percy traveled to Europe to look at the more advanced two-wheeled industry there. Percy imported an FN four-cylinder model which provided the basic model for the engine, shaft drive, and forks though the Pierce engine had a 43 cu-in. (707 cc) capacity, and used a T-head sidevalve design, eschewing the atmospheric inlet valve operation of the FN.
Nor did Pierce copy the remainder of the FN, using large-diameter tubing for the frame (to contain the gas and oil tanks, plus all the cables), plus using the engine as a stressed member of the frame. The first models of 1909 had no clutch and a single speed (a two-speed transmission and clutch were added in 1910), and are both rare and highly sought after as they were America’s first four-cylinder motorcycle, and had excellent performance.
Pierce-Arrow Motor Car Company produced some of the most advanced and innovative bikes of the early American motorcycle industry, but the bikes were expensive to produce and cost more to build than they sold for, with the Pierce Motorcycle Company ceasing production in 1914 with less than 500 Pierce 4s built. This first year 1909 Pierce 4 is an older restoration. Lot F36 in the EJ Cole Collection auction in March, 2015 was estimated to sell between $100,000 and $125,000 and sold for $115,500.
167 – 1939 Indian Four
An older restoration magneto model 1939 Indian Four with matching numbers, this bike sold as part of the EJ Cole Collection in March, 2015, fetching $115,500.
167 – 1942 Indian Four
The first one off the production line in the final year of Indian Four Cylinder production (serial number 1), this 1942 Indian Four sold for $115,500 as part of the EJ Cole Collection in March, 2015.
171 – 1936 Brough Superior SS80 with Watsonian Sport Sidecar
$115,000 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Quite a remarkable story is behind this 1936 Brough Superior SS80 with Watsonian Sport Sidecar. Though it's not a matching numbers bike, the full story is available and the bikes which provided both sets of numbers were owned by the same person. A recent restoration at the time of sale, and the winner of multiple Best of Show awards, this 1936 Brough Superior SS80 outfit sold for $115,000 at Bonhams' 2015 Vegas sale.
171 – 1912 Harley-Davidson Single belt-drive
$115,000 November, 2011 Illinois, U.S. Auctioned by Auctions America
Sold by Auctions America as part of the Lee Roy Hartung Collection in November, 2011, this 1912 Harley-Davidson belt-drive single runs perfectly and is entirely original. Described in the auction catalogue as being "in time-warp untouched condition", it sold for $115,000.
171 – 1962 Matchless G50 Roadracer
$115,000 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Two-owners from new, both with impeccable racing credentials, and one being Dick Mann who used this 1962 Matchless G50 Roadracer to win the 1963 AMA championshi, breaking the stranglehold held by Harley-Davidson since the cmapionship's inception and becoming the first single cylinder bike to win the title. The bike sold for $115,000 at Bonhams' 2015 Vegas auction.
174 – 1928 Brough Superior Overhead 680
$114,439 (Sold for GBP£55,400)December, 2007 London, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
With the SS80 tourer and SS100 sports 1000cc models well established by the mid-1920s, it was decided to add a smaller and cheaper alternative to these two 1,000cc models to the range. JAP was already producing a 674cc sidevalve v-twin engine and this unit, redesigned to accommodate overhead valves, went into Brough’s new ‘Overhead 680’. First shown to the public at the Olympia Motorcycle Show in 1926, the ‘Miniature SS100’, as George Brough called it, entered production for 1927 and was an immediate success.
This Overhead 680 was originally sold in Yorkshire and its four owners to the time of this sale in 2007 were all residents of the U.K.. The machine was restored in 1995 and kept in storage until sold by Bonhams for GBP£55,400 ($114,439) in a London sale in 2007.
175 – 1930 Brough Superior 680
$113,642 (Sold for GBP£55,400)October, 2007 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
The success of the middleweight 680cc Brough in 1929 saw it joined by a second model in 1930, being the higher specification ‘Black Alpine 680’, with the main difference from the standard Overhead 680 being the adoption of the patented Draper sprung frame.
Its accompanying Brough Superior Owners Club works record shows that this Black Alpine 680 was supplied new to Godfreys Ltd, of London. A major refurbishment of the cycle parts was undertaken during the 1990s, while the engine benefits from a full rebuild undertaken while in the vendor’s care. The machine retains its original fuel tank, gearbox, engine, tinware, stands, magneto cover, exhausts, silencers and frame, the latter’s number (‘970’) being stamped on numerous parts. The engine cases have been replaced with the stronger through-bolted type for increased reliability and peace of mind, though the original cases were included in the sale, along with expired tax discs dating back to 1953, assorted previous-owner correspondence including letters from Brough, JAP and Pilgrim Pumps, sundry invoices, an old-style continuation logbook (1950), Swansea V5C, and an original Brough Superior instruction book.
This 1930 Brough Superior 680 sold for GBP£55,400 ($113,642) at a Bonhams Staffordshire sale in October, 2007.
176 – 1914 Harley-Davidson 10F Twin
$113,400January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
The restoration of this 1914 Model 10F two-speed twin was the work of the renowned Mike Parti and the bike was awarded a 95.25+ score at the Canyon City, Colorado, AMCA meet in May 2002. A fine example of this first-year two-speed Harley, it sold for $113,400 at Mecum MidAmerica's January Las Vegas sale in 2014.
177 – 1949 Vincent Black Shadow
$113,245 (Sold for GBP£68,600)April, 2011 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This matching-numbers Series-C Black Shadowwas offered from the estate of a recently deceased Vincent collector, who acquired the machine in 2003. The bike was fully restored by marque specialist John Mossey during this ownership, and saw only limited use since completion circa 2004. An authentic specimen, this 1949 Vincent Black Shadow sold for GBP£68,600 ($113,245) in April, 2011 at Bonhams' Staffordshire sale.
178 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
$112,935 (Sold for GBP£69,150)July, 2009 Henley on Thames, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This matching numbers 1951 Vincent 998cc Series C Black Shadow was sold with a complete history from new and having been part of the Ward Brothers Collection from 2002. It fetched GBP£69,150 ($112,935) at a 2009 Bonhams sale at Henley on Thames.
179 – 1954 Vincent Black Shadow
$112,700 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Another pristine 1954 Vincent Black Shadow capable of being used or going into a museum, the bike was restored by famed California Vincent expert Mike Parti in December 2009 and hardly ridden prior to the sale in Las Vegas in January 2015 for fear of compromising its near perfect condition. It fetched $112,700.
179 – 1950 Vincent Black Shadow
$112,700 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This motorcycle has had a fascinating history despite having just 10,000 original miles on the dial. It is mentioned in two of the most appreciated and best-selling books in the motorcycle collecting genre, Matthew Biberman's Big Sid's Vincati (Hudson Street Press, 2009) and The Harley in the Barn. It sold for $112,700 in January, 2015 at Bonhams' Las Vegas sale.
181 – 1970 BMW 500cc Rennsport Sidecar
$112,688 (undisclosed but believed to be in the vicinity of this price)October, 2011 BMW Museum, Munich, Germany Auctioned by Bonhams
This BMW 500cc Rennsport racing sidecar combination was campaigned in world championship sidecar racing by the late Georg Auerbacher during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Auerbacher was third in the World Championship in 1965 and 1966, improving to second in 1967 including wins in the Spanish Grand Prix at at Montjuic Park and the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. In 1968 he won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps and took second place in the title, followed by a winless year and third place in the 1969 title chase.
In 1970, Auerbacher won the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring and the Dutch TT at Assen, to finish second in the title. In 1971, there was one more Grand Prix win in the German round at Hockenheim, but in 1972, while practising for the Isle of Man TT, Georg and his passenger Peter Rutterford crashed with Georg suffered serious head injuries, which ended his racing career and from which he never fully recovered.
This 1970 BMW 500cc Rennsport Sidecar outfit has won Grands Prix at the biggest venues in motorcycle sport. It's entire history is on the official web page. It sold for an undisclosed amount believed to be in the vicinity of $112,688 at an auction by Bonhams at the BMW Museum in Munich in October, 2011.
182 – 1957 Gilera 500cc GP Racer Re-creation
$112,184 (Sold for GBP£76,300)April, 2009 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
An identical bike to the 1957 Gilera 500cc GP Racer Re-creation that sold for GBP£84,000 (US$138,667) at Stafford in April, 2011, this bike sold four years prior in the aftermath of the GFC. A faithful re-creation of Gilera’s fabulous 1957 Grand Prix four, fully sorted, ready for use and eligible for entry into the most prestigious of classic motorcycling events worldwide, it fetched GBP£76,300 ($112,184) in April, 2009.
183 – 1927 McEvoy-JAP 8/45hp
$111,150November, 2006 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1927 McEvoy is powered by a JAP ‘KTOR’ competition engine and was restored by special effects genius John Stears, the two-time Academy Award-winning special effects director who gave us James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, the deadly rocket-firing BSA in Thunderball and the light sabers, R2D2 droid and Luke Skywalker’s sand speeder in Star Wars.
Whatsmore, the bike is one of only a handful of similar McEvoys known to exist and is of particular historical significance because it was the last of these machines to be owned by its builder, the late Michael McEvoy. Its restoration was started by Michael McEvoy and John Stears but completed by John on Michael McEvoy’s sudden death shortly after work on the rebuild had began.
Stears also used all of his mechanical special effects expertise and model building skills to make a replica 1920s sports sidecar (on a genuine vintage chassis) for the bike. Not surprisingly, the bike sold for $111,150 at a Bonhams San Francisco sale in 2006.
184 – 1930 Indian Chief
$110,000August, 2014 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1930 Indian Chief was Lot 501 at the November, 1984 Steve McQueen estate auction at the Imperial Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, the second machine to be auctioned. His old 1200cc sidevalve V-Twin Indian Chief with Princess sidecar is a restoration with patina gained from use and the passage of time. It fetched $110,000 at Mecum MidAmerica's Pebble Beach auction in 2014.
184 – 1937 Indian Model 437
$110,000December, 2007 Florida, U.S. Auctioned by RM Auctions
Sold as part of the Al Wiseman Collection, this Indian Four Model 437 had just completed a complete ground up restoration to show quality standards. Virtually flawless, everything on the Indian at the time of sale was in as-new condition, with no signs of use. The four-cylinder Indian fetched $110,000 at an RM Auctions sale in December 2007.
184 – 1908 Indian Twin racer
$110,000 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
Specialised Indian racing machines first appeared in 1905 that were visibly different from the catalog offering, including a new V-twin engine, which was first offered to the public in racing form in 1908. That first 60.32 cu-in. engine retained the ‘automatic’ inlet valve and mechanical exhaust of the singles, although this ‘monkey on a stick’ twin racer was advertised as capable of 65 mph ‘according to gear,’ with a single Corbin coaster-brake on the rear wheel… racing was always for the brave! Other specifications included Hedstrom mica spark plugs, an English Brooks racing saddle (the B-100 or B-100-4 for ‘heavy riders’), and an all-up weight of 120lbs. Colors available were Indian Royal Blue (the standard), with options of black or Indian Red. The magnificent Twin-Cylinder Indian racer could be yours for $360. This E.J. Cole ‘monkey on a stick’ 1908 Indian Twin-Cylinder racer was purchased from D. Ollhoff, and retains its original parts, while remaining in unrestored condition. This bike sold for $110,000 as part of the EJ Cole Collection.
184 – 1929 Excelsior Super X
$110,000 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1929 Excelsior OHV Super X hillclimber contains a rare factory racing engine of which only around a dozen were built. Highly original in every respect, the bike was estimated to sell for between $105,000 and $120,000 and sold for $110,000 as part of the EJ Cole Collection.
188 – 1930 Brough Superior SS80
$109,958 (Sold for GBP£68,700)October, 2012 Stafford, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This most famous 1930 Brough Superior 981cc SS80 De Luxe, known affectionately as 'Black Bess', was known across England as the mount, and subsequently the former mount of VMCC founder, the late C E 'Titch' Allen, OBE, BEM. (pictured on the bike). It was auctioned at Bonhams' October Staffordshire sale in 2012, fetching GBP£68,700 ($109,958).
189 – 1955 Vincent Black Shadow Series-D
$109,420 (Sold for GBP£72,060)April, 2015 Stafford, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
One of only 141 un-enclosed Series-D Black Shadows made, this 1955 model has a complete history of its total of 53,730 miles since new. It sold for GBP£72,060 ($109,420) at Bonhams' Autumn Stafford sale in 2015.
190 – 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model'
$108,165 (Sold for GBP£67,580)October, 2012 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
When C W G 'Bill' Lacey became the first man to cover 100 miles in an hour on British soil in August 1928, riding a Grindlay-Peerless, the Coventry factory produced a replica of his machine - the Brooklands 'Hundred Model'. Only a few were produced and only two survive: the one first owned by Brooklands and Manx Grand Prix competitor J D Potts (sold by Bonhams at Stafford in April 2001 for GBP£12,650) and this bike, which belonged to prominent VMCC member, the late Edmond Joseph 'Boy' Tubb, who won his Brooklands 'Gold Star' aboard the Grindlay. This bike is of exceptional historic interest and importance, as can be seen from the Bonhams press release. It sold for GBP£67,580 ($108,165) at the same sale eleven years later, indicating the growth in prices in the collectible motorcycle area.
191 – 1974 Ducati 750SS
$108,000January, 2013 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo auction link availableNo Image available
191 – 1928 Harley-Davidson JDH Twin
$108,000January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
From the George Pardos Collection, this Harley-Davidson JDH Twin was one of the fastest roadgoing motorcycles in the world when it sold new for $370 in 1928. It was the first Harley with twin cams, the first Harley road bike with a front brake, and this particular JDH was restored by Mike Terry and George Pardos, and was judged a 98 point job at the AMCA meet in Davenport, Iowa, September 1999. The JDH is among the most desirable Harley-Davidsons of all time, being a rare instance when H-D offered one of its successful race engines for a road bike. The bike sold in January, 2014 at a Mecum MidAmerica auction for $108,000.
191 – 1949 Vincent Black Shadow
$108,000January, 2013 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo auction link availableNo Image available
194 – 1926 Indian Hillclimber
$107,250 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
Only 26 Indian A45 machines were built - a limited series of high-horsepower variants of the 45 cubic inch engine for competition purposes and they were used for hillclimb, dirt track, and road-racing.
Built in 1926-27, the 60 hp engines were loosely based on the Scout but the cylinder heads combined overhead valves, a hemispherical combustion chamber, and a domed aluminum piston which resulted in a 15:1 compression ratio and the necessity to run the engines on alcohol fuel only. The first A45s, of which this machine is one, had iron cylinder heads, while later examples had aluminum heads, becoming one the first aluminum OHV cylinder heads in the industry. Sold as part of the E.J. Cole collection, the bike fetched $107,250 in March, 2015.
194 – 1920 Indian Daytona Big Valve Racer
$107,000January, 2011 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo auction Link available No image available
194 – 1918 Pope 8L
$107,000January, 2010 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo auction Link available No image available
197 – 1918 Henderson Four
$105,875January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1918 Henderson Four represents a meticulous restoration of a completely original bike with matching numbers. The bikes was sold with a complete photographic documentation of the restoration for $105,875 in Las Vegas in January, 2015.
198 – 1933 Brough Superior Overhead 680
$105,711 (Sold for GBP£58,700)September, 2008 London, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
Sold as part of the Brian Verrall Collection in 2008, this matching numbers 1933 Brough Superior Overhead 680 has been restored by respected Brough Superior specialist Simon Miles and incorporates the popular through-bolted cylinder conversion. Formerly owned by one of the first members of the Brough Club, with a complete ownership history, the bike was sold for GBP£58,700 ($105,711) in September, 2008.
199 – 1929 Harley-Davidson Peashooter 350cc
$105,395 October, 2007 St Paul, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica No auction link available No image available
200 – 1973 Triumph/BSA Formula 750 Racer
$104,760January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica No Auction Link Available
The FIM Formula 750 Class was introduced in 1970, designed to enable the growing number of 750cc production bikes to compete on equal terms. Yamaha eventually spoiled the party by homologating it's brutally-powerful TZ700 four-cylinder two-stroke and blowing everything else into the weeds. Until then though, one of the main competitors was the three-cylinder four-stroke from Triumph/BSA based on the Triumph Trident and BSA Rocket III (the BSA identical in every respect except for angled cylinders).
The exact provenance of this bike is unknown, though it was purchased directly from Norton Villiers Triumph boss Dennis Poore in 1977 and there's no doubt it saw race action in the hands of one, probably more, of top riders drawn from a small group including Mike Hailwood, Paul Smart, John Cooper, Dick Mann, Don Emde, Dave Aldana, Don Castro, Gary Nixon, Gene Romero and Gary Scott - which ones rode it is not recorded.
BSA-Triumph's Chief Engineer Doug Hele developed the race engines in 1969, while frame builder Rob North devised a strong chassis that completed a very competitive package. Gene Romero finishing second on a Triumph in the 1970 Daytona 200, while Dick Mann's BSA won Daytona in 1971. BSA-mounted John Cooper won the Mallory Park Race of the Year, beating Giacomo Agostini's MV Agusta. Percy Tait and Ray Pickrell won the 24-hour Bol d'Or endurance race and both took wins in 750 class IOM TT races. John Cooper also took victory in the 250-mile F750 race in Ontario in October, before financial difficulties ultimately led to the death of the marque.
In the USA, the bikes were progressively developed at the Triumph BSA race shop in Duarte, California with "letterbox" fairings and Wenco frames. At the end of 1972 when the BSA marque died, the two Wenco-framed BSAs were given Triumph color schemes and re-numbered, TRX7501 and TRX7502. # 01 stayed with Dick Mann. This machine is #02.
201 – 1931 Harley-Davidson VL
$104,500August, 2014 Monterey, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
Another motorcycle formerly owned by Steve McQueen and originally sold in Las Vegas at Imperial Palace in the McQueen estate sale of 1984, this 1931 Harley-Davidson VL was sold with a rare 1931 California license plate.
201 – 1929 Indian 401
$104,500 January, 2015 Scottsdale, U.S. Auctioned by Barrett-Jackson
Formerly of the Otis Chandler Collection, this 1929 Indian 401 was restored to as-new condition and sold ready to be ridden, in January, 2015
201 – 1910 Detroit Single
$104,500 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
Though only built for two years (1910-11), the Detroit motorcycle uses very large-diameter tubing for its frame, which contains both the gas and oil tanks, similar to the Pierce motorcycle. The Detroit features a direct flat-belt drive and leading-link fork, and the engine is a 30.5 cu-in. (500cc) F-head single, with the throttle and ignition controlled by twistgrips on the handlebars, and rods to the carburetor and points assembly.
This 1910 Detroit single is built around an original engine, and is extremely rare, being one of just three known to exist. It sold for $104,500 as part of the E.J. Cole Collection.
204 – 1998 Benelli 350cc Beale Replica
$104,343 (Sold for £55,400)October, 2006 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This exacting copy of a 16-valve, seven-speed 1969 Benelli Four Grand Prix racer built by George Beale sold for GBP£55,400 ($104,343) in October, 2006 Beale began by manufacturing unobtainable parts for out-of-production AJS 7R and Matchless G50 single-cylinder racers, eventually offering complete machines. In the mid-1990s, he acquired a 413cc Benelli four and restored it, while the subsequent acquisition of a complete engine and loan of an original frame from Benelli collector Giancarlo Morbidelli paved the way for the remanufacture of complete machines in 350cc, 413cc and 500cc capacities, with frames manufactured by Harris Performance.
This Benelli Replica was purchased by the current owner in March 1998 directly from George Beale. Originally of 413cc, it is one of five manufactured to that specification. While in the USA the machine has been worked on by renowned classic racer, Dave Roper, who converted it to 350cc and transferred the gearchange to the ‘modern’, left-hand side. Sold with a quantity of spares including pistons and crankshaft.
205 – 1929 Harley-Davidson JDH 1200cc
$104,325October, 2007 St. Paul, U.S.A Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
No auction Link available No image available
206 – 1956 BMW Rennsport RS54
$103,500January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1956 BMW Rennsport RS54 with distinctive in-period Bartl-style 'duckbill' fairing was assembled in the 1970s largely from original spare parts. Since the mid-eighties, the bike has seen extensive racetrack service in German national and international vintage racing events. One of the few BMWs to be able to hold their own, in period, with the fastest racing machinery of the day. It sold in Bonhams' Vegas sale in January, 2014 for $103,500.
206 – 1955 Vincent Black Shadow Series D
$103,500January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This near-perfect Series-D 1955 Vincent Black Shadow was exported from Michigan, USA to the UK in 2006 and restored between 2010 and 2011 by Woodford Motorcycles of London. Purchased by the vendor in 2011, the motorcycle was on static display until the sale in Las Vegas in January, 2014 when it fetched $103,500.
206 – 1949 Vincent Black Shadow
$103,500 January, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Another great story behind this bike, which was first purchased in 1950 from Atlantic Motorcycles in Boston by one Louis Kazajian. Kazajian was an avid motorcyclist, sportsman and storied adventurer. In the early 1950s, he singlehandedly drove from Watertown up the ALCAN Highway. One month and twelve tires later he earned the moniker "Yukon Lou", which aptly described his zest for life. A "confirmed bachelor", when Kazajian was not fishing, hunting, motorcycling or doing other "manly man" activities, he was fighting fires for the Watertown Fire Department. He rode the Shadow until 1969 when he thought it wasn't running well and parked it in his basement. There it sat until spring 2012. In July, 2012, after simple recommissioning (massaging and coaxing of all mechanical systems, multiple fluid changes, adjusting valves and rebuilding the carburetors), the Vincent came back to life after four kicks. It sold at Bonhams' 2015 Vegas sale for $103,500.
209 – 1930 Brough Superior SS80
$103,421 (Sold For GBP£66,000)October, 2010 Haynes International Motor Museum, U.K. Auctioned by H&H Classic
For the 1930 season, when this bike was built, the SS80 represented the middle machine of the Brough Superior range, below the overhead valve SS100, and above the 670. All three machines utilised JAP powerplants, however, the SS80 (so named because 80 mph was guaranteed to be attained by the machine by the manufacturer) employed a side valve engine instead of the over head valve units fitted to its larger and smaller siblings. The 981cc V-twin transmitted the power to the rear wheel via a three speed gearbox, in this case a Sturmey unit, fitted with high gears and a chain final drive. In this example the powertrain is housed in a sprung frame, although a rigid version was also offered, and the machine is finished in a black livery. According to the factory record card this matching numbers machine originally left the works on April 17, 1930 before returning in 1933 for modifications, subsequently being resold by the company. It was sold in good condition in all respects with a Swansea V5C and a dating certificate issued by the Brough Superior Owners Club. At a H&H Classics auction at Haynes International Motor Museum in October, 2010, this bike fetched GBP£66,000 ($103,421).
210 – 1955 Vincent Series D Black Shadow
$103,400August, 2014 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
211 – 1938 Brough Superior SS80
$102,600January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
The recipient of a complete nut and bolt restoration, this 1938 Brough Superior SS80 can boast a class win at the Pebble Beach Concours. It also sold for $102,600 at Pebble Beach in 2014.
211 – 1909 Harley-Davidson 5C Single
$102,600January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
An astonishingly original machine, this 1909 Harley 5C was purchased from the Harley-Davidson factory by Joseph Delphey, the original owner of the family Harley-Davidson dealership. It was hence a one-family-owner bike and was on display in the showroom for years. The bike is all factory original, has never been restored and was last started 40 years ago. It is believed to be a one of a kind in the original condition. It sold in completely unblemished original 105-year-old condition for $102,600 at Las Vegas in January, 2014.
213 – 1904/5 FN Four
$102,375November, 2006 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Dating from around 1904 to 1905, this bike is the earliest known surviving FN four and was featured in the publication, The Magical Book of Fours. Previously the property of a scientist from Los Alamos, the FN subsequently passed to a collector in San Francisco before being acquired for the Silverman Museum collection. Restored by Brad Wilmarth over a period of eight years, it is fitted with a coaster brake to the rear and was run only once prior to auction since the restoration was complete. It sold for $102,375 at the Steve McQueen Auction in San Francisco in November, 2006.
214 – 1909 Harley-Davidson Model 5C
$101,750 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1909 Harley-Davidson Model 5C is an older restoration, and the only known 1909 model with a magneto ignition. It sold for $101,750 at the E.J. Cole Collection auction in March, 2015.
215 – 1932 Brough Superior Black Alpine 680
$101,635 (Sold for GBP£64,220) February, 2012 Bath, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
Sold as an exceptionally well-documented and original Black Alpine 680, this 1932 Brough Superior sold for GBP£64,220 ($101,635) at a Bonham's sale in February, 2012.
216 – 1953 Mondial 125 Monoalbero
$101,545 (Sold for GBP£59,360)July, 2014 Bath, U.K. Auctioned by Coys
Following WW2, the 125cc class of roadracing was undertaken predominantly by single-cylinder two-stroke machinery. This was the era prior to the understanding of the schnerle loop and expansion chamber design, and the power outputs were modest indeed.
The F.B. Mondial (Fratelli Boselli of Milan) racing effort was based on a highly advanced Double Over Head Camshaft (dohc) engine designed by Alfredo Drusiani. Beginning development in 1948, the overhead cams and train of gears in the head were bevel driven by a short vertical shaft. Precise valve operation and a short stroke motor enabled the engines to rev freely and the power output of the engines was such that they became completely dominant. When the World Motorcycle Championships got underway again in 1949, Mondial won EVERY race in the 125cc class for the first three years before MV Agusta and Benelli developed similar machinery with MV Agusta finally claiming victory in the 1952 Isle of Man race and narrowly beating Mondial for the 1952 World Championship. It was MV Agusta's first championship win of many.
Mondials set numerous world speed records for 125cc machinery with these engines, including a 165 km/h world speed record for 125cc machines. Drusiani left Mondial in 1953 and over the next two years the NSU, Moto Guzzi and MV Agusta marques relegated Mondial from the podium, but Drusiani's genius was highlighted when he returned to the marque, building gear-driven DOHC motors which swept both 125 and 250 classes in 1957.
This example was purchased by the vendor directly from the Mondial factory liquidation sale in 2005. This bike (Chassis 013) took part in a number of Milano - Taranto races in period and has more recently participated in numerous well known classic motorcycle rallies.
An extremely rare example of the F.B. Mondial 125 race machines which dominated 125 world championship racing in the early fifties. Pure gold mainly because it was sold with an extensive history file verifying its heritage. This 1953 Mondial 125 Monoalbero sold for GBP£59,360 ($101,545) in July, 2014 at a Coys auction in Bath, U.K.
217 – 1928 BMW R63
$101,504 (Sold for EUR€67,850)November, 2009 BMW Museum, Munich, Germany Auctioned by Bonhams
BMW Motorrad has produced motorcycles since 1923, developing its horizontally-opposed engine over a century long period to be the most distinctive and recognisable of all motorcycles.
The R63 is of particular historical significance as it was the Munich firm's first OHV 750 roadster and quite rare in that only around 800 were made. This low mileage (under 32,000 km) bike was purchased in unrestored condition by Willy Neutkens in August 1998 and is equipped with 160km/h speedometer and Bosch electric lighting set and horn.
Part of the historic Willy Neutkens collection, it sold in November, 2009 for EUR€67,850 ($101,504) at a Bonhams auction at the BMW Museum in Munich.
218 – 1925 Brough Superior SS80
$100,995 (Sold for GBP£63,100)October, 2012 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
As the auction description on this 1925 Brough Superior SS80 reads: "Brough Superiors still in the possession of the first owner's family, in all probability , can be counted on the fingers of one hand, so this wonderfully original and unrestored example, accompanied by its fascinating history file, represents a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for discerning collectors." The full story is detailed and fascinating, and no doubt helped the totally original and authentic bike sell for GBP£63,100 ($100,995) at a Bonhams auction in October, 2012.
219 – 1950 Vincent Black Lightning
$100,740 (Sold for GBP£65,000)August, 2013 Brooklands, U.K. Auctioned by Historics at Brooklands
Available to order, a standard Black Lightning was supplied in racing trim with magnesium alloy components, special racing tyres on alloy rims, rear-set foot controls, a solo seat and aluminium mud guards which reduced the Lightning's weight to 380lb. The 998cc air-cooled OHV pushrod V-twin specifications were always based on standard parts but upgraded with higher performance racing equipment. The Black Lightning had higher strength connecting rods, larger inlet ports, polished rocker gear, steel idler gears, racing carburettors and a manual-advance magneto and was available with compression ratios between 6.8:1 and 12.5:1. This resulted in 70bhp and a top speed of 150mph. Only 31 Black Lightning's were ever built before production ended in 1952. Ted Davis was employed by Vincent's from 1947 until 1959 as an engine builder, tester, development engineer and racer. Started in the winter of 1949 and completed by the following spring, Ted built this bike starting with crankcases AA52. The first race with this bike took place at Haddenham followed by Cadwell Park, Croft and Brands Hatch. Ted was a more than competent rider but often came second to a Vincent colleague, George Brown, the Development Manager. He set about modifying his bike to sidecar specification which included 16" wheels, lower gearing and a Watsonian sidecar; his race partner, in this format, was another Vincent colleague, Ron Kean. Clearly this was a good combination as they managed a number of outright victories. George Brown then parted company with Vincent and Ted Davis became the Development Manager. After the demise of Vincent, Ted became Development Manager for Borg Warner. When Ted finished racing in the seventies, he had the bike completely rebuilt by Furness and Searle (who were also both ex-Vincent employees). It was to be returned to original Black Lightning trim with black engine, alloy WM1X 21" front wheel and WM2X 20" rear wheel, twin start pump Scintilla Magneto, big bore heads and clip-fitting GP carburettors. In 1979, Ted Davis sold the bike to Brian Verral Motorcycles in London who subsequently sold the Vincent to a private collector.
220 – 1994 Harley-Davidson VR1000 Factory
$100,580October, 2007 St. Paul, U.S.A Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
One of only fifty machines offered by Harley Davidson to the public, the VR1000 was the product of Harley Davidson's controversial VR racing program which saw the marque attempt to become competitive in America's premier racing series and ultimately fail. The 50 bikes produced however, were rippers, and although they didn't quite cut it against the Japanese machinery on the racetrack, they did on the road, they were styled for a non-traditional Harley marketplace, they wear a genuine Harley-Davidson badge and they are extremely rare. That's why one topped the $100,000 mark ($100,580 to be exact) at a MidAmerica auction in St Paul in 2007.
221 – 1966 Norton 350 Manx Model 40
$100,194 (Sold for GBP£61,980)October, 2013 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1966 Norton 350 Manx Model 40 is one of the last pair of Manx Nortons owned and campaigned by the legendary tuner/entrant Francis Beart. The bike is ex-Francis Beart, Joe Dunphy, Keith Heckles and is both the most expensive Norton and most expensive Manx Norton ever to sell at auction. With classic racing now reaching new heights in popularity, Manx Nortons are becoming increasingly expensive.
A modern 1998 500cc Molnar reproduction Manx (Manx Grand Prix winner and ex-Barry Sheene - pictured above) sold for GBP£55,200 ($89,234) at the same auction as this bike, and currently sits just outside the top 250 motorcycles sold at auction.
Another Beart Norton Manx 350 (Ex-Jimmy Guthrie) sold for $75,900 at Bonhams' Las Vegas sale in 2015.
Other high prices fetched for Manx Nortons include a 1936 Norton International 350 Model 40 (ex-Johnny Lockett with bike upgraded to Manx spec) for GBP£36,700 ($63,511) in October, 2008, a 1961 Norton Manx 30M for GBP£29,000 ($55,133) in November, 2006 and a 1961 Norton Manx 30M for GBP£26,000 ($50,898) in March, 2007.
222 – 1928 Douglas 350 TT Twin Cam
$100,104 (Sold for GBP£48,800)October, 2007 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
Douglas was famously the bike which provided BMW with the basis for its horizontally-opposed dynasty when the company reengineered a Douglas engine to produce the M2B15 engine in 1920 then eventually turned it sideways in 1923. This 1928 Freddie Dixon 348cc TT Douglas Twin Cam is a significant machine for a number of reasons. "Flying Freddie" Dixon is not only a signficant motorsport competitor, having won major events on two, three and four wheels, he was also the pioneer of leaning sidecars, disc braks and a host of other innovations on two, three and four wheels. This bike sold for GBP£48,800 ($100,104) at a Bonhams auction in 2007.
223 – 2010 Indian Chief Custom
$100,000Scottsdale, 2013 Scottsdale, U.S. Auctioned by Barrett-Jackson
An initiative by the two-time Grammy Award winning and multi-platinum Zac Brown Band, this machine is one of two Indian motorcycles heavily customised and then promoted on tour and at the Sturgis Rally by the band in conjunction with Indian motorcycles and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky during 2012 and early 2013.
The proceeds from the bike's sale went to Camp Southern Ground, Zac Brown's passion project. The non-profit camp is being developed as a state-of-the-art facility providing programs for children with special needs.
223 – 2010 Indian Black Hawk Custom
$100,000Scottsdale, 2013 Scottsdale, U.S. Auctioned by Barrett-Jackson
The sale of this 2010 Indian Black Hawk Custom was an initiative by Zac Brown Band which customised and promoted the bike in conjunction with Indian motorcycles and Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whisky during 2012 and early 2013. The $100,000 raised from the bike's sale went to Camp Southern Ground, Zac Brown's passion project.
225 – 1952 Vincent Series C Rapide
$99,450January, 2011 January, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
This remarkably preserved 1952 Vincent 998cc Series C Rapide is one of only 12 built in Chinese Red & Black, and sold originally by a dealer in Fresno, CA. The bike is believed to have completed less than 10,000 miles to date and, even more remarkably, has so far had but two owners. Its untouched condition coupled with the splendid patina is reflected in the ownership and mileage figure! It sold for $99,450 at Bonhams' January Las Vegas auction in 2011.
226 – 1939 Indian Four with sidecar
$99,000 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
The 1938 and ’39 Indian Fours were the last of the rigid-frame F-head line, with following models gaining plunger suspension and 50 pounds in weight. Accordingly, many consider this model the last of sporty four-cylinder Indians. As the company was still owned by the DuPont family, the available color palette was vast, and this striking yellow and black machine is a prime example. This 1939 Indian Four is an older restoration and comes attached to a wonderfully shapely Indian sidecar complete with a spare wheel. It sold for $99,000 as part of the E.J. Cole Collection.
227 – 1950 Vincent Black Shadow Series-C
$98,720 (GBP£63,100)November, 2014 London, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A matching registration, frame and engine numbers 1950 Vincent Black Shadow Series C with a detailed history, this bike fetched GBP£63,100 ($98,720) in November, 2014.
228 – 1915 Harley-Davidson 11F Twin
$98,280January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1915 Model 11F twin was restored by Mike Parti, and was judged at 97 points at the Canyon City, Colorado, AMCA meet in May 2001. It is a stunning restoration of the first 3-speed Harley, a machine coveted by the cult of pre-1916 riders everywhere. It fetched $98,280 at Mecum Mid America's Las Vegas 2014 auction.
229 – 1926 Brough Superior SS80
$98,250 (Sold For £60,500)December, 2009 Pavilion Gardens, U.K. Auctioned by H&H Classic Auctions
This 1926 Brough Superior SS80 had been in long term ownership with a true enthusiast prior to its sale by H&H Classic Auctions in December, 2009. The machine had much work carried out between 2003-2005 by Tony Cripps, whom is held in high regard for his engineering skills for these machines. The bikes fetched GBP£60,500 ($98,250).
230 – 1929 Henderson 1,301cc KJ Four
$97,900 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
The Streamline (KJ) model appeared in 1929 with a return to the inlet-over-exhaust valve configuration. The bike was fast, reliable and capable of 100 mph, but owner Ignaz Schwinn ceased production of Excelsior/Henderson just two years later due to the Depression. At the time, Excelsior was one of the "Big Three" along with Harley-Davidson and Indian. This older restoration sold for $97,900 as part of the E.J. Cole Collection.
231 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
$97,200January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
No auction link availableNo Image available
232 – 1975 Bimota HB1
$96,614 (Sold for GBP£57,500)April 27, 2014 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
Scarcity is one of the drivers of a high auction price and with just ten models produced, the original Bimoa model is a perfect case. The HB1 was derived from a frame kit produced by Italy’s Bimota to be paired with a Honda CB750 engine. This four-owner bike had original patina but a rebuilt motor including a JPX VX1000 big-bore block. Bimota HB1s are definitely one of the most valuable bikes produced in the 1970s with a Japanese motor. This bike sold in April, 2014 for GBP£57,500 ($96,614) while another sold in Paris in February, 2015 for EUR€63,825 ($72,956).
233 – 1912 Flying Merkel
$96,300August, 2009 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmericaNo auction link available No image available
234 – 1915 Harley-Davidson Twin Model 11
$96,250 March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
Harley-Davidson's 1915 twin-cylinder Model 11 is a particular sweet spot in the Harley range with regard to veteran motorcycle events as Harley-Davidson vastly improved the bike over the 1914 twin, claiming 29 refinements in a single year and a 37 percent power increase over the 1914 model thanks to larger inlet valves, a larger intake manifold, and a new muffler.
Mecum MidAmerica sold a 1915 11F twin for $98,280 and a 1914 10F twin for $113,400, both at Las Vegas 2014, while in its previous guise, MidAmerica sold a 1913 Harley-Davidson twin for $85,600 in Las Vegas in 2011 and a 1915 twin for $171,200 in Las Vegas in 2009.
This particular bike sold in very original condition, with original paint, much of the original pin-striping and an enamel license plate from 1925. It fetched $96,250.
235 – 1930 Brough Superior Overhead 680
$95,617 (Sold for GBP£59,740)October, 2012 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This 1930 Brough Superior Overhead 680 was purchased by the vendor's deceased father over 45 years ago, at which time it was complete although requiring restoration; indeed, the deceased owner's son recalls the Brough as complete some 40 years ago. Some work was done after dismantling the machine, including stripping the frame of paint, removing the valves and guides from the cylinder heads, and a repair to the front cylinder barrel. Fortunately, there were few missing parts other than the silencers (which had probably rusted away) and the dynamo. The starting point for this basketcase restoration fetched GBP£59,740 ($95,617) in October, 2012.
236 – 1952 Vincent Black Shadow
$94,645 (Sold for EUR€82,800) February, 2015 Paris, France Auctioned by BonhamsSeries C
This matching-numbers Series C Black Shadow was owned for 43 years (1957-2000) by VOC member Geoff Preece of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK, and everything about the bike while it was in his care has been meticulously recorded and is in the history file which came with the bike. The bike sold for a healthy EUR€82,800 in Paris in 2015, but with the depressed state of the currency, this equated to only US$94,645 - a steal for such an original and storied motorcycle.
237 – 1948 Vincent-HRD Series-B Rapide
$94,195 (Sold for GBP£57,600)October, 2009 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams Series-B
Vincents with in-period competition history are rare, works examples even more so, and this particular 1948 Vincent-HRD Rapide may well be the only solo ISDT Vincent in existence. 'KAR 223' was ridden in the 1948 International Six Days Trial by experienced Gloucestershire-born trials exponent Arthur Merrett. The bike sold for GBP£57,600 ($94,195) in October, 2009.
238 – 2008 Harley-Davidson SPS Custom
$93,852 (Sold for EUR€69,000)February, 2014 Paris, France Auctioned by Bonhams
A very significant motorcycle in the grand scheme as it is the highest priced custom ever to sell at auction: EUR€69,000 ($93,852). Yes, the bikes further up the list from the Zac Brown Band also qualify as customs but we suspect that the provenance of the Zac Brown Band and the charity aspect boosted their price. This bike achieved its price as rolling art, and rightfully so.
239 – 2011 Egli-Vincent 1300cc Special
$93,600August, 2011 Quail Lodge, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
A one-off based loosely around a Vincent motor with a pseudo-Egli frame. This bike was built around an Egli frame built by Terry Prince, an Australian who once worked for Fritz Egli but now manufactures frames and complete Vincent-based bikes in Germany. The overall build was carried out by Sam Manganaro's Vincent Works in Colorado, U.S.A. using a set of magnesium Vincent crankcases cast by some guy in the U.K. who apparently cast five sets. The engine has been upgraded with Terry Prince heads, barrels and other bits, as well as a Prince stroker crank that takes the engine out to 1300cc. The considerable power is carried though a five-speed gearbox from the Horner Brothers in Melbourne, Australia, who also build high quality Vincent-based machines. The mono-shock rear suspension is Öhlins shock absorber, with Ducati Monster forks, KTM hubs and Buchanan's spokes and rims. The tank, seat and front fender are from master craftsman Evan Wilcox in the U.K.
240 – 1919 Cleveland 13.5ci
$93,600November, 2007 San Francisco, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Just the third two-stroke in the top 250 and the work of Kenny Howard who is better known as "Von Dutch", artist, restorer, and drinking mate of Steve McQueen. Though it became known for its mighty four cylinder of 1929, the first motorcycle from the Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company was this 13.5ci (221cc) single-cylinder two-stroke with the crankshaft inline with the frame, a sensible arrangement for a shaft-driven motorcycle but one that necessitated a worm gear to turn the drive through 90 degrees on the chain-driven Cleveland.This eccentricity seems entirely appropriate with Von Dutch's involvement. It was restored by Von Dutch in the early 1970s for the ‘Movie World Cars of the Stars’ museum in Buena Park, California. The bike was sold in 1984 and has remained in a private collection for the past 20 years. Featured in the book on the life and work of Kenneth ‘Von Dutch’ Howard, it has also featured in other Von Dutch art displays. Von Dutch memorabilia and collectibles have been appreciating in value for quite some time and given this bike fetched $93,600 in November, 2007, it might well sell for a lot more now.
241 – 1949 Vincent Series C Black Shadow
$93,500August, 2008 Pebble Beach, U.S. Auctioned by Gooding & Co
An older but pristine restoration at the time of the sale, this bike took the 1990 Best Of Show award at Del Mar, California, this matching frame and engine numbers 1949 Vincent Series C Black Shadow fetched $93,500 in August, 2008.
242 – 1937 Harley-Davidson EL
$93,500March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
One of the gems of the E.J. Cole collection this 1937 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead is beautifully restored and improved "in period" with a strengthened frame. The first year of the completely enclosed rocker arms made one of the most beautiful motors ever to grace a Harley-Davidson. It fetched $93,500.
243 – 1922 Douglas 494cc Brooklands Racer
$93,334 (Sold for GBP£45,500)October, 2007 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
Quite a significant machine as it was the first 500cc bike to be sold with a guarantee of 100 mph performance - quite some feat more than 90 years ago. The bike sold for GBP£45,500 ($93,334) in October, 2007. Full story worth a read here.
244 – 1992 Honda RC45 NR750
$92,952 (Sold for GBP£57,500)October, 2013 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A sure sign of things to come - many more Japanese motorcycles are destined to be on this list, and the NR750 is one of Honda's very special limited edition models and one which is certain to grow in value and move further up this listing as time goes by. The RC45 was the successor to the RC30 and was even moreso based on Honda's RVF endurance racer. The RC45 simply bristles with innovations such as titanium connecting rods, a fuel injection system almost identical to that of the NR750, a short stroke engine with aluminium-silica bores, single-sided swingarm, upside-down forks, dual radiators, carbon-fiber bodywork ad infinitum. Just 200 of these machines were built and its wins included the 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 and 1999 Suzuka 8hr races, two World Endurance championships and the World Superbike championship in 1997.
This 1992 Honda RC45 NR750 sold for $92,952 (it sold for GBP£57,500), to become the most expensive NR750 yet. Another NR750 sold for EUR€63,250 ($85,501) in Paris during the February, 2014 Retromobile festival.
245 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
$92,952 (Sold for GBP£57,500)October, 2013 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A well loved, well-maintained and regularly ridden Vincent Black Shadow with matching numbers (great story - not quite but thoroughly authentic). Sold for GBP£57,500 ($92,952) in October, 2013.
246 – 1939 Brough Superior SS80 'Petrol Tube' Sidecar
$92,750 (Sold for GBP£55,200)April, 2014 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
This SS80 and Alpine Grand Sport Cruiser sidecar is perhaps the most complete and original Brough Superior combination ever to have been offered at auction. Invoice No: M2814 from the Brough works and registered in April 1939 by Brough agents Alexander and Co. of Glasgow, this 'money-no-object' machine was specified from new with Monarch forks, 'spring-wheel' rear suspension, Amal touring 'bars, Wasdell front and Cranford rear 'guards, and with the famous 'petrol-tube' Alpine sidecar, No. 212, all of which equipment is still fitted. The outfit sold for GBP£55,200 ($92,750) at Bonhams Stafford auction in 2014.
247 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
$92,541 (Sold for GBP£57,500)October, 2014 Staffordshire, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A desirable all-matching-numbers example, this 1951 Vincent Black Shadow was acquired by the vendor a decade prior to its sale and had covered fewer than 200 miles since a total engine and mechanical rebuild by Tony Hutchinson, a VOC member with a long history of restoring Vincents. The frame, cycle parts and brightwork were also restored and the machine was sold with a huge file of bills for the work carried out. Totally standard with exception of the 8" front brake - the original 7" brake was sold with the bike for a total of GBP£57,500 ($92,541).
248 – 1939 Brough Superior and sidecar
$92,067 (Sold for AUD$111,000)December, 2014 Melbourne, Australia Auctioned by Shannons
The largest model to emerge from Brough's Nottingham factory was the 11-50, designed primarily for sidecar and police work. The engine was a powerful 60-degree JAP V-twin with a single Amal carburettor. The Monarch patented bottom-link front fork was specially designed for sidecar work and the advanced four-speed gearbox was pivotal-mounted, with three close ratios and a low bottom gear. The 11-50 was capable of a very respectable 65-70mph with sidecar fitted, even more riding solo, and proved particularly popular with Australian and Canadian police forces. To quote the 1939 Sales Brochure, the 11-50 Special was “…specially built for the tough guys of the motor-cycling game” and was available in Colonial trim, with long rear-swept handlebars, twist-grip controls, foot-boards, foot clutch and gear-change. In production from 1933 until 1940, when Brough Superior ceased all motorcycle manufacturing and switched to precision engineering, with only 308 thought to have been made in that period. This outfit sold in Australia in December 2014 for AUD$111,000 (US$92,067).
249 – 1928 BMW R42
$92,000January, 2014 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
Restored in Germany by a BMW technician, this 1928 BMW R42 sold for $92,000 at Bonham's 2014 Las Vegas sale.
250 – 1910 Royal Pioneer 30.50ci Single
$92,000May, 2010 Quail Lodge, U.S. Auctioned by Bonhams
One of the finest motorcycles ever produced in the United States, the Royal Motor Works was founded in 1901 in New York City, creating motorcycles with DeDion Bouton style engines of their own manufacture. The company existed for nearly a decade, relocating in 1907 to Worcester, Massachusetts, where in 1909 it announced a new motorcycle completely sourced and manufactured in Worchester. Royal Pioneers were built to a higher standard for sophisticated buyers and not down to a price. Unfortunately, a fire ravaged the Royal Pioneer factory in December, 1909 and the company never re-established production. Fewer than 500 motorcycles were manufactured in Worchester and only four are known to still exist. One of four, this 500cc 1910 Royal Pioneer sold for $92,000 in May, 2010.
Bikes recently displaced from the top 250
251 – 1952 Vincent Black Shadow
$91,844 (Sold for GBP£51,000)September, 2008 London, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A matching-numbers example, this 1952 Series-C Vincent Black Shadow was despatched new to Paris, France in February 1952. Noted collector Brian Verrall bought the Shadow as the fifth owner in March 2002 and the bike was sold with his collection by Bonhams in 2008 for GBP£51,000 ($91,844).
252 – 1934 Indian Four
$91,300March, 2015 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
This 1934 Indian Four is an older restoration and sold for $91,300 as part of the E.J. Cole sale in March, 2015.
253 – 1950 Vincent Black Shadow
$90,950January, 2011 Las Vegas, U.S. Auctioned by Mecum MidAmerica
No auction link available
254 – 1976 MV Agusta 750 Arturo Magni
$90,862 (Sold for EUR€66,752) February, 2014 Paris, France Auctioned by Artcurial No auction link available No image availableArturo Magni was the long-time race director of MV Agusta, and when the company closed its competition department at the end of 1975, Magni began producing special parts, chain drive kits for the shaft-drive 750s, and often entire bikes based on the 750cc MV roadster. All Magni MVs are different, all built by craftsmen and this is such a bike.
255 – 1951 Vincent Black Shadow
$90,831 (Sold for GBP£54,050) June, 2014 Banbury, U.K. Auctioned by Bonhams
A 'barn find' Black Shadow that was purchased by the vendor in Cardiff in 1966 and ridden sparingly for three years, before being put into storage in 1970. Sold as is, the 1951 Vincent Black Shadow sold for GBP£54,050 ($90,831).
256 – 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Replica
$90,818 (Sold for EUR€70,200) May, 2012 Monte Carlo, Monaco Auctioned by RM Auctions (now RM Sotheby's)
This bike is a replica of the famous Imola bikes, but it has more than a little magic attached to it as it was constructed from a frame given by the Ducati racing department to Mr. Saltarelli (the vendor) in 1975 for his racing efforts with his private team of Ducati racing motorcycles. The frame is a 750GT unit as per the original Imola machines and is in the same frame number sequence as the Imola bikes. Mr. Saltarelli had a plentiful supply of parts from the factory and built this machine as a spare racer for his team in period. The engine is a correct round-case unit, which features racing pistons, high lift camshaft and a lightweight flywheel.
The bike remained with Mr. Saltarelli from the 1970s, and it was then in the year 2000 that he decided to start on the restoration so that it could be put on display at his museum. There were two fuel tanks supplied at the time of sale, and the bike is currently fitted with the larger endurance type racing tank. It has Marzocchi leading axle forks, three Lockheed disc brakes and the “left high-right low” Conti exhausts, as Imola was mostly a left-hand track. Accordingly, this bike is as near to the original Works machines as possible, constructed using original parts from the factory in period. The full story can be seen on the auction page, with the bike selling for EUR€70,200 ($90,818) in Monaco in May, 2012.
257 – 1959 Ducati 175cc F3 Production Racer$89,700 January, 2015 Auctioned by
A rare 1959 Ducati 175cc F3 Production Racer, one of perhaps as few as just twelve 175cc bikes built, sold for US$ 89,700 at Las Vegas in January, 2015.
258 – 1928 Excelsior-Henderson Super X$89,700 January, 2015 Auctioned by
259 – 1911 Pierce 688cc Four$89,638 (Sold for GBP£54,300) April, 2011 Auctioned by
260 – 1998 Norton Molnar Manx 500 'FW01'$89,234 (Sold for GBP£55,200) October, 2013 Auctioned by
261 – 1931 Brough Superior SS80$89,010 (Sold for GBP£57,500) April, 2013 Auctioned by
262 – 1952 Vincent Black Shadow$88,920 January, 2011 Auctioned by
Please note: the above is a working list of the most expensive motorcycles sold at auction. If you are aware of a machine which sold for a price (including commission) which warrants a place on this list, we'd be delighted to hear from you and will verify and add the machine to the list. This list will continue to be updated to ensure its accuracy, so if you are aware of a motorcycle sold at auction for US$70,000 or more, including buyers fees, we'd still like to know about.
Several years ago, we found that using two currencies (GBP and USD) can lead to complications i.e. for a period, we listed two different motorcycles which both qualified for the most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction - the 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer, which sold for US$551,200 in America in 2008 and a Brough Superior SS100 which sold in October 2010 for £286,000 in the United Kingdom.
The Brough Superior's GBP£286,000 equated to US$448,156 at the time of its sale, while the Cyclone's US$551,200 equated to £277,096.51 (on the date of its sale). So there were two different bikes which could be argued to be the most expensive sold at auction. On top of that, the different sources each used different currency exchange rate sources.
Accordingly, to compile this list, we decided to use one currency – the United States Dollar. The United States is the primary marketplace for everything collectible, and two thirds of the bikes on our top 250 list were sold in the United States. We also use one freely available set of historical currency exchange rates – XE.com's Historical Currency Exchange Rate Tables.
The prices reflected on this list are hence calculated in USD using XE's historical exchange rates on the day of the sale if the bike was sold in a currency other than USD.
If you wish to submit a motorcycle for inclusion in this list, and it was sold at auction in a currency other than USD, please give us as much relevant information as possible – i.e. the make, model and year of the motorcycle sold, the auction company that sold it, the price it sold for including all commissions and auction fees and the date of the sale. If you don't have all that information, give us what you have and we'll attempt to track it down from there.
If you have knowledge of or links you can suggest for the machines on this list which will add to the knowledge this article conveys, please let us know. Our ultimate aim is to increase the knowledge of our readership so it (they, YOU) can make better informed decisions.
While Gizmag's team on this project varies, Mike Hanlon, Somer Hooker, Brendan Dooley, Loz Blain and Noel McKeegan are primarily responsible for developing and maintaining this listing. If you think you can help with research, writing or photography, we'd be delighted to hear from you.