The 33 most interesting motorcycles at Bonhams' 2018 Autumn Stafford Sale
Bonhams' Stafford Motorcycle auctions are held each spring and autumn at the Staffordshire County Showgrounds in the United Kingdom, and these auctions invariably throw up some fascinating motorcycles. This year the biggest prices were again fetched by project bikes, with three of the top four lots being bikes that required a complete restoration.
Having looked through the results, here are the most interesting bikes amongst the 539 lots on offer.
$12,100 (£9,200) | 1953 Nimbus 750cc Model C Four
Produced as a sideline by Danish vacuum cleaner manufacturer, Fisker & Nielsen, the Nimbus 750 first appeared in 1919, and was produced in limited quantities until 1954, with only a few bikes produced after 1954 by assembling spare parts. There were several of these remarkable machines sold at Stafford with the above machine being one of the last produced (1953) and the equal most expensive of the group at just $12,000 – a pittance considering the astonishing work performed in restoring the bike to new condition at Aarhus Nimbus in Denmark.
Just 12,000 of these bikes were produced during the four decade production run, with more than 4000 still registered and active in Denmark, and many more coveted in other countries. The ability to purchase a machine of such technological excellence, rarity and near perfection for four figures is astonishing. Other Nimbus fours on offer at Stafford included 1938, 1939 and 1948 models. Auction Description
$12,856 (£9,775) | 1992 Harley-Davidson 1,340cc
FXDC Super Dyna Glide Custom
One of the highest profile motorcycle enthusiasts of recent decades has been crooner Engelbert Humperdinck. One of Humperdinck's Harleys sold in Stafford for a very reasonable price considering the provenance. Auction Description
$14,822 (£11,270) | 1981 Benelli 900 Sei
Several six cylinder motorcycles of note sold in Stafford, including this 900 Benelli. Those who have never had the pleasure of riding a six would be surprised at the smoothness and power of these bikes, with the Benelli in particular offering sweet handling into the bargain. In addition to the 900 Benelli, a 1982 Honda CBX1000 sold for £4,830, a Kawasaki Z1300 with just 531.7 miles on the dial sold for £12,075 and another, bored to 1500cc and turbocharged that had been built by a Cosworth engineer for his own use, selling for £7,820. Auction Description
£ 15,525 | 1980 Laverda Jota 1000
I tested one of these for a motorcycle magazine back in the day, and can attest that it gave little away to the Japanese superbikes of the time at the top end, with the thunderous mid-range of the 1000cc three cylinder making it particularly potent on the racetrack. The Jota won the British Avon Production series in 1976. 1978, 1979 and 1980. Incredible value given the rarity of the bike. Auction Description
$18,150 (£13,800) | 1989 Suzuki RG500 Gamma
The ultimate two-stroke road bike, with power and handling to match. For those who wish to debate the relative merits of this bike versus the Yamaha RZ500, I owned one of the Yamaha V4s when this bike came out, and can vouch that I was very disappointed that the RG500 was so much better. The auction description contains a quote from Bike magazine in 1986: "The 99 rear-wheel horses it produced on Motad's generous, but consistent dyno is 22bhp up on Yamaha's RD500LC, a massive 45bhp more than Honda's 387cc NS400R and only a couple of horses down on the output of its own GSX-R750 stablemate."
This is the closest road bike to the fearsome two-stroke 500cc MotoGP bikes, which were the most challenging race bikes to ride that have ever been created. Auction Description
$32,880 (£25,000) | Hip flask awarded to Rem Fowler
Regarded as the single most important piece of Isle of Man TT memorabilia, this silver hip flask was awarded to H "Rem" Fowler for winning the inaugural 1907 International Tourist Trophy Twin-cylinder Class at the Isle of Man in 1907. Auction Description
$25,712 (£19,550) | 1962 Norton 348cc Manx Model 40M
This 1962 Norton Manx 350 has spent almost its entire life being raced, and is hence fast and reliable as the weaknesses of the original design have been addressed, with enhancements to the performance by legendary tuner Ray Petty, an enclosed coil spring conversion, a four-leading shoe front brake, a belt primary drive, a Mitsubishi magneto, and a five speed gearbox. Auction Description
£ 20,700 | 1959 BSA 604cc Gold Star
Restored to perfection, bored to 604 cc, and sold with more than £4,000 in receipts, which does not represent the full amount spent. Auction Description
$27,981 (£21,275) | 1974 Kawasaki 748cc H2
The Kawasaki H2 two-stroke triple 750 was the production racing king for a short period prior to the release of the Kawasaki 900 Z1 four. This result is at the high end of pricing for the H2 at auction, and truly original models like this one are extremely rare. Auction Description
$30,250 (£23,000) | 1925 New Imperial Model 7 Outfit
This 1925 New Imperial 8hp Model 7 combination has quite some provenance, being formerly owned by the New Imperial Club's founder and chairman, and more recently by media personality Richard Hammond. Auction Description
$30,250 (£23,000) | 1989 Yamaha FZR750R OW01
The massive importance of the World Superbike Championship has seen many homologation specials built by the factories so that their race bikes could have a solid competition basis. Only 500 of Yamaha's FZ750R (known as the OW01) were built to meet minimum homologation numbers, and it is hence far rarer than the Honda RC30. The OW01 was also much more expensive than the RC30, costing £12,700, more than twice the price of the standard FZR1000, with the race kit adding another £2,415 to the price. The Honda RC30 cost £8,499. Auction Description
$30,250 (£23,000) | 1917 Reading-Standard 1,150cc 'Big Twin'
This represents good buying for the 101-year-old flathead Reading-Standard, one of the most powerful motorcycles of its day. Built in Reading, Pennsylvania for just 20 years, the company motto will no doubt resonate: "No limit but The Law". Auction Description
$30,250 (£23,000) | 1923 Indian 37ci Scout
A well restored version of a 1923 600cc Indian Scout featuring electric lighting, Bosch magneto, a Schebler Deluxe carburetor, and the helical gear primary drive which gave the model such a wonderful reputation for reliability. Auction Description
$31,762 (£24,150) | 1979 Yamaha TZ750F
Few motorcycles have had as much impact as the Yamaha TZ750. Though the FIM's Formula 750 was intended to be a class for production motorcycles, Yamaha homologated enough TZ750s to run in and dominate the class for a decade, with this TZ750 being the final "F" version. Great buying at just $31,762. Auction Description
$31,762 (£24,150) | 1980 Yamaha TZ500G
The TZ500G was Yamaha's customer Grand Prix bike, and was introduced in 1980. The TZ500G is much rarer than Suzuki's RG500 customer Grand Prix bike and this machine was campaigned in 1980 by Dutchman Boet Van Dulmen. Van Dulmen won his only Grand Prix in 1979 aboard an RG500 Suzuki, with the best result for this bike being fourth at the Dutch TT at Assen in 1980 behind Jack Middelburg, Graziano Rossi (father of Valentino Rossi) and Franco Uncini. This bike was sold without the gearbox assembly and clutch assembly, which no doubt depressed the price. Auction Description
$33,275 (£25,300) | 1959 AJS 350cc 7R
Produced from 1948 to 1963, the AJS 7R "Boy Racer" was an over-the-counter racing motorcycle which became a racing mainstay of club racing across the world, holding a similar position in vintage racing to this day. Auction Description
$34,787 (£26,450) | 2015 Kawasaki H2R
At 310 hp, the Kawasaki H2R is the most powerful production motorcycle ever created, and cost £41,000 when it was released in 2015. Which makes this bike, with one kilometer on the odometer, a bargain at the price it sold for. Auction Description
$36,300 (£27,600) | 1986 Yoshimura Suzuki GSX-R750 Racer
This bike is a full Yoshimura factory racer that was used by Satoshi Tsujimoto to win the 1986 All Japan TT Formula 1 Championship. That same year, Tsujimoto paired with Kevin Schwantz to finish third in the Suzuka 8 Hour race, wand second in the Daytona 200 behind Wayne Rainey. Incredibly good value for a motorcycle of such provenance. Auction Description
$39,325 (£29,900) | 1961 Norton 499cc Manx Model 30M
A bike with a long competition history from the same stable as the 350 Manx mentioned elsewhere, with many of the same modifications. Good buying for someone wishing to go classic racing. Auction Description
$60,500 (£46,000) | 2012 Suter MMX1 Grand Prix Racer
This machine was ridden during the 2012 MotoGP season by American Colin Edwards and is one of the few machines to have consistently brief "Claiming Rule Teams" (CRT) era. Faced with escalating costs and dwindling participation, Dorna came up with a lower-cost category that ran alongside the factory prototypes. The idea was that CRT teams would run production-based engines in prototype chassis, and that engines would be claimable by factory teams for a set fee of €25,000, though why a factory team would want to acquire a tuned road-bike engine was never explained. In the event, none ever did. This bike runs a BMW engine, and scored eight points scoring finishes during the season, with a high of eleventh place at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Auction Description
$62,012 (£47,150) | 1989 Honda VFR750R RC30
The record price for a Honda RC30 homologation special was set earlier this year at $92,000 in Las Vegas by a bike that was essentially unused, having just 14 km on the odomoter, with most of those clocked up being pushed from trailer to stand inside exhibitions. This bike had even fewer "push kilometers" on the clock, which shows just 2 km from new, all of them under human power. It hence represents extraordinary value at that price. Auction Description
$63,525 (£48,300) | 1919 Henderson 1,147cc Model 2 Z Four
$74,415 (£56,580) | 1930 Henderson KJ Streamline Four
This bike is one of the redesigned Henderson fours which came out in April, 1929 with styling that earned it the "streamline" name. Sadly, just six months after it was released, the Great Depression began when Wall Street had a meltdown on October 29, 1929. Many wonderful cars and motorcycles ceased production over the following few years, and the 1300cc four cylinder Henderson was one of them. This bike more than doubled its estimate. Auction Description
$81,675 (£62,100) | 1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow
Excellent buying at this price. Auction Description
$81,675 (£62,100) | 1992 Honda NR750
Honda's RC30 and RC45 homologation specials are now consistently getting high prices, with the record for an oval-piston, eight-valves-per-cylinder NR750 (aka RC45) being $92,952 (sold for £57,500) at another Bonhams Stafford auction in October, 2013 and another NR750 achieved €63,250 ($86,031) in Paris in February, 2014. Only 200 of these bikes were made, which makes this an excellent buy considering the low volume and spectacular performance and build quality. Auction Description
$83,187 (£63,250) | 1937 Böhmerland 603cc Langtouren
The Czech-built Böhmerland was powered by a 600cc single cylinder engine and was produced in several different versions with varying wheelbases. This bike, the Langtouren, was designed as a three-seater, and has the longest wheelbase of any motorcycle ever produced. The bike was also the first to have cast alloy wheels, and with only 30 believed to have survived from the original 3000 unit production, the price was always going to be high. Auction Description
$90,421 (£68,750) | 1952 AJS 498cc Model 20 Springtwin Cutaway Model
Had this AJS 500 twin been in perfect working order, it would not have attracted a price greater than 10 percent of this cutaway model, but as we've written previously, cutaway models are now very much in vogue, as so few were made. A spectacular exhibit piece and an equally spectacular price. Auction Description
$96,800 (£73,600) | 1972 MV Agusta 750S
The world record price at auction for one of MV Agusta's most famous roadgoing motorcycle is held by Bonhams, and was set in the Spring Stafford Sale in April, 2014, at US$143,661 (sold for £85,500). Just 401 MV Agusta 750S motorcycles were made, and this bike had a complete engine rebuild 3,283 kilometers prior to the auction, so while a $100,000 motorcycle cannot be considered cheap, it was still a good buy. Auction Description
$105,875 (£80,500) | 1952 Norton-JAP Mk1 'Saltdean Special'
This is a very significant motorcycle, having been built in Saltdean in 1952 and campaigned until 1994, winning countless races along the way. The bike uses a JAP engine in a Norton "featherbed" frame, though the engine uses the heads and barrels from a JAP speedway engine, and runs on methanol fed by twin Amal GP carburetors. Auction Description
$166,375 (£126,500) | 1928/1925 Brough Superior SS100
Yet another basket case Brough Superior, though very little is known of the history other than that it has been in single family ownership for the last 70 years. Despite being in bits, the bike appears complete, though it went to auction with a crack in the timing case of the JAP engine. Auction Description
$211,750 (£161,000) | 1933 Brough Superior 981cc SS100
This 1933 Brough Superior 981cc SS100 Project sold for £161,000 after being stored since the 1970s. The bike's history makes a great story as it was purchased in 1963 for £33 as the first motorcycle for Jean Knight, a woman living in South London and working in North London, who used the bike for her daily commute for many years. Full story in the Auction Description.
$219,312 (£166,750) | 1927 Brough Superior SS100 Pendine
Built from a genuine Pendine racing engine that was originally supplied to Brough Superior by J A Prestwich in April 1927, this 1927 Brough Superior SS100 Pendine did particularly well at auction considering the remainder of the bike has been built from parts, including a replacement frame. Auction Description
$347,874 (£264,500) | 1925 Brough Superior SS100 Sand Racer
Expensive basket cases have become a hallmark of Bonhams' Stafford sale in recent years, with two of the most valuable basket case motorcycles in history selling in 2015 when a pair of Brough Superior 981cc SS100 Alpine Grand Sport "projects" sold for £236,700 (US$365,000) and £259,100 (US$400,000), respectively.
This year several more very expensive basket cases sold, with the ex-C.F Edwards 1925 Brough Superior 981cc SS100 Sand Racer achieving more than double its estimate and selling to a UK buyer in the auction room for £264,500, the highest amount ever achieved for a dismantled Brough Superior in British pounds. The only known image of the bike with Edwards aboard is above. It was built specifically for sand racing and featured dropped handlebars, narrow un-valanced mudguards and a Binks "mousetrap" carburetor.
The vagaries of international exchange rates might put the price of this bike at a record for a basket case motorcycle when measured in British pounds, but a distant third if those prices are converted to the American dollar, which is the defacto standard measure of auction value. Auction Description