Motorcycles

Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale preview

Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Moto...
This Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $241,400 (£120,000 to £170,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $241,400 (£120,000 to £170,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
View 14 Images
This 1946 AJS 500cc E90 'Porcupine' Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $355,000 to $426,000 (£250,000 to £300,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1946 AJS 500cc E90 'Porcupine' Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $355,000 to $426,000 (£250,000 to £300,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $241,400 (£120,000 to £170,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $241,400 (£120,000 to £170,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 'Black Alpine' is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $227,200 (£120,000 to £160,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 'Black Alpine' is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $227,200 (£120,000 to £160,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1925 Brough Superior 750cc Mark II is estimated to sell for between $113,600 to $170,400 (£80,000 to £120,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1925 Brough Superior 750cc Mark II is estimated to sell for between $113,600 to $170,400 (£80,000 to £120,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1949 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-B Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1949 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-B Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This c.1932 Brough Superior Overhead 680 To Overhead 500 Specification is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This c.1932 Brough Superior Overhead 680 To Overhead 500 Specification is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1973 MV Agusta 750S is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $113,600 (£60,000 to £80,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1973 MV Agusta 750S is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $113,600 (£60,000 to £80,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1940 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 hp is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1940 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 hp is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 & Petrol-Tube Sidecar is estimated to sell for between $78,100 to $106,500 (£55,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 & Petrol-Tube Sidecar is estimated to sell for between $78,100 to $106,500 (£55,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1914 Brough 497cc Model H is estimated to sell for between $71,000 to $99,400 (£50,000 to £70,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1914 Brough 497cc Model H is estimated to sell for between $71,000 to $99,400 (£50,000 to £70,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This MV Agusta Magni 862cc Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $56,800 to $63,900 (£40,000 to £45,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This MV Agusta Magni 862cc Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $56,800 to $63,900 (£40,000 to £45,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1965 Velocette 499cc Thruxton is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1965 Velocette 499cc Thruxton is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1989 Honda VFR750R Type RC30 is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
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This 1989 Honda VFR750R Type RC30 is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
View gallery - 14 images

Elite motorcycle auctions have been few and far between outside the United States since COVID-19 came to visit, but the long-awaited Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Sale at the traditional venue of the Staffordshire County Showground will be held later this week, with a dozen motorcycle capable of fetching more than US$100,000 apiece.

1946 AJS 500cc E90 'Porcupine' Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle

This 1946 AJS 500cc E90 'Porcupine' Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $355,000 to $426,000 (£250,000 to £300,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1946 AJS 500cc E90 'Porcupine' Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $355,000 to $426,000 (£250,000 to £300,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $355,000 to $426,000 (£250,000 to £300,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 33
Only four were ever made, and this is the one and only genuine E90 AJS to have ever gone to auction. The E90 won the very first World 500cc Motorcycle Championship and the manufacturers championship for AJS and is hence a landmark motorcycle. Two E95s have been to auction and they have both sold for astonishing amounts of money so this bike is a good chance of becoming the most valuable motorcycle in history. Read the full story here.

Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation

This Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $241,400 (£120,000 to £170,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special Re-Creation is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $241,400 (£120,000 to £170,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $170,000 to $240,000 (£120,000 to £170,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 739

One of the most famous and terrifying images of pre-war Great Britain was this image of Noel Pope getting the front wheel way off the deck at blistering speed on the banking at Brooklands on the fourth of July, 1939. Pope’s Brough Superior SS100 was running a supercharged 1938 JAP 8/80 engine producing prodigious horsepower and he set a lap record of 124.51 mph (200.38 km/h) that day. Within two months, Britain was immersed in a battle for survival as WW2 unfolded, and the Brookland circuit and surrounds were repurposed for military aircraft production. The circuit hence became a target for Germany’s bombers and just over 12 months after this bike set the lap record on this frighteningly fast circuit, it was damaged so badly by bombs that it was never used again.

The bike at auction is a replica of Pope’s Supercharged Special, built by Ewan Cameron. Ewan was inspired by Pope’s performance as a young boy, and his inspiration drove Ewan to become one of the finest historic motorsport fabricators in the world as the proprietor of Cameron Engineering. Indeed, though Cameron Engineering can do almost anything you might wish in the vintage racing arena, it is best known as a JAP specialist, so this engine is quite likely better than the original. Built with burning passion and hence no effort spared, this is one of Ewan’s finest works, making it an incredibly exciting offering at auction. If it meets the high end of its estimate, this bike will become one of the 100 most valuable bikes ever sold at auction.

1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 'Black Alpine'

This 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 'Black Alpine' is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $227,200 (£120,000 to £160,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 'Black Alpine' is estimated to sell for between $170,400 to $227,200 (£120,000 to £160,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $170,400 to $227,200 (£120,000 to £160,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 709
From the National Motorcycle Museum Collection
The OHV 680 Brough Superior was built to make the prestigious marque more accessible, and from the time it was introduced in 1926, it was the top seller in the Brough Superior range. The price of the standard OHV 680 was £103 fully equipped, slightly less than half the price of the SS100 of the day.
In 1930, a higher specification OHV 680 was introduced in the form of the “Black Alpine”, leveraging the top-of-the-range reputation of the SS100 Alpine Grand Sport. Of the 547 OHV 680s produced, just 69 were built to Black Alpine specifications, making it considerably rarer than any other mainstream Brough Superior model.

The general consensus is that around 125 to 130 OHV 680s are still in existence, and if the same attrition rate is applied, those numbers suggest that around a dozen, maybe 15 Black Alpines are amongst them. This rarity invokes the laws of supply and demand, so although it was the poor cousin of the SS100 for most of its existence, with big brother SS100 and SS80s now closely held and rapidly appreciating in value, the 680 Black Alpine has been shaping as an auction block superstar for more than a decade.

In October 2011, Bonhams sold a basketcase 680 Black Alpine for an astonishing £40,550 (US$64,142), the highest price ever paid for a basketcase at that time. Several barnfinds of motorcycles in very distressed states had occurred prior, but this was one of the auction lots that catalyzed the sale of a dozen more basketcases that redefined the genre and made Bonhams the “go to” auction house for basketcases. Of the top 10 most valuable basketcases in history, Bonhams has sold nine of them and eight of the top 10 are Brough Superiors.

We’ll be producing a feature on the most valuable barnfinds and basketcases shortly, but it should also be noted that a 1929 Brough Superior OHV 680 (not the higher spec Black Alpine version) sold in basketcase condition for $126,000 at Bonhams’ January 2020 Las Vegas (no link).

Just what this Black Alpine might sell for will be interesting to watch. It originally left the Haydn Road, Nottingham factory of George Brough as a standard OHV 680 and was restored to Black Alpine specification by Colin Wall, the National Motorcycle Museum's restorer in 1981, and has spent the last 25 years in the museum. Hence it has museum provenance, but is not an original Black Alpine.

Standard OHV 680s sold as far back as 2010 for just shy of £100,000 ($145,727 | £98,300 and $150,155 | £93,900) and the very few Black Alpines seen at auction since then have fetched $209,759 (£138,140 in 2015), $160,699 (£129,375) in 2016, $144,021 (£112,380) in 2017, $138,457 (€113,240) in 2018 and $143,522 (£118,125) in 2019.

That was all prior to COVID-19 though, and the American post-COVID optimism that has supercharged every other form of collectible marketplace is likely to be evident in bidding via phone and internet, so it is quite possible that the model record price of $209,759, set six years ago, may not be standing after this auction.

Two alternatives to this auction currently exist if you’re in the market for a Black Alpine: Mason & Sons have a 1933 model for sale at an undisclosed price, and Dylan-Miles has an OHV 680 for sale at £134,950.

1925 Brough Superior 750cc Mark II

This 1925 Brough Superior 750cc Mark II is estimated to sell for between $113,600 to $170,400 (£80,000 to £120,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1925 Brough Superior 750cc Mark II is estimated to sell for between $113,600 to $170,400 (£80,000 to £120,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $113,600 to $170,400 (£80,000 to £120,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 708
From the National Motorcycle Museum Collection
This Brough Superior model with its Swiss-built, V-twin, M.A.G. engine is exceptionally rare and they don’t come to auction all that frequently. Indeed, the last one to cross the block, by our reckoning, was 17 years ago when Bonhams sold a 1923 Brough Superior 750cc Mark II for £27,600 (US$49,300) at its April 2004 Spring Staffordshire sale. That’s almost ancient history in the motorcycle auction marketplace, and Bonhams’ claim that it represents a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity is accurate. Many collectible machines have appreciated by a factor of ten in the same 17-year period so if it can be purchased within the auction estimate, it looks like an ideal long-term investment.

1949 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-B Black Shadow

This 1949 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-B Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1949 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-B Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 706
From the National Motorcycle Museum Collection
The most plentiful bike in the top 1000 motorcycles sold at auction, the iconic Vincent Black Shadow numbers 47 different bikes that have sold for more than $100,000 (and another six that have sold for $99,000). What's more, the model price record for a Black Shadow is held by the very last Black Shadow Series-C off the production line in 1955 that sold at Bonhams on 29 Apr 2012 for £124,700 ($202,824).

It’s ironic that the C-Series should be more valuable than the B-Series, because only 76 Series-B Black Shadows were made before the Series-C's introduction at the 1948 Earl's Court Motorcycle Show and 1,507 Series-C Black Shadows were subsequently produced (not to mention 15 Series-C White Shadows and 144 Series-D Shadows). Only two Series-B Shadows feature in the 20 most expensive Black Shadows sold at auction.

Which brings us to the bike at auction. The most expensive Series-B Black Shadow ever sold fetched $153,500 at Bonhams’ Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction in 2016, with an astonishing 812 miles (1,307 km) on the odometer, 68 years after it left Stevenage on June 5, 1948.

This rare Series-B Black Shadow was dispatched to Elder Smith in Sydney, Australia on 1 February 1949. The Vincent was later taken to New Zealand and remained there until December 2000 when it returned to Australia. Its new owner commissioned local marque specialist Terry Prince to make the machine roadworthy, which included incorporating numerous stainless steel fasteners and converting the electrics to 12-volt operation.

It has spent the last few years of its life in the National Motorcycle Museum, so it ticks all the boxes as both a road and a show bike.

1932 Brough Superior Overhead 680 To Overhead 500 Specification

This c.1932 Brough Superior Overhead 680 To Overhead 500 Specification is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This c.1932 Brough Superior Overhead 680 To Overhead 500 Specification is estimated to sell for between $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $99,400 to $142,000 (£70,000 to £100,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 710
From the National Motorcycle Museum Collection
This bike is an OHV 680 fitted with a purpose-built 500cc JAP v-twin racing engine. The same type of racing engine had been used by Cotton, Excelsior and OK-Supreme in the Isle of Man Senior TT (all failed to finish due to incorrectly hardened cam followers), but George Brough seized the opportunity, bought the remaining racing engines and after fixing the cam follower problem, sold them as OHV 500s. The limited supply of engines meant only nine were ever badged as Brough Superiors and we’ve never seen one at auction before. Extremely rare, very fast and straight from the National Motorcycle Museum.

1973 MV Agusta 750S

This 1973 MV Agusta 750S is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $113,600 (£60,000 to £80,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1973 MV Agusta 750S is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $113,600 (£60,000 to £80,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $85,200 to $113,600 (£60,000 to £80,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 647
MV Agusta’s four cylinder masterpiece was initially deemed overpriced by the marketplace and the proud Italian company struggled to sell its shaft-drive beauty against the onslaught of chain-driven Japanese performance bikes of the period, which were faster, quicker, lighter, handled better and cost much less.

The heritage of the marque, the beauty of the bike and the rarity created by the quickly curtailed production run have since created a perfect auction block superstar and, along with the Ducati green frame 750 Super Sport and the Munch Mammoth, the triumvirate are now the most valuable 1970s motorcycles at auction.

The MV Agusta 750S has been a $100,000 motorcycle since Bonhams sold one for $143,661 (£85,500) on 27 April-2014, and since then a further eight 750S specimens have surpassed the mark, with the score being seven of the original 750S (with the Jessica Rabbit curves), and two of the squarer tanked America models.

The original sculpted tank model is clearly the most valuable, if you count the 20 most valuable 750S-based road bikes to have sold at auction, 14 are the original model, three are Americas, and three are the increased-capacity 837cc Monza models created to move the remaining stock.

So this bike is a completely original fully-faired specimen of one of the most beautiful and desirable motorcycles ever made, and it will cross the block with the odometer reading 11,968 miles (19,260 km). The paint is original as is everything else, including a dent in the tank – the value this bike achieves at auction will be dependent on the purchaser’s view of how to deal with that not insurmountable problem.

The highest-priced fully-faired MV Agusta 750S sold to date fetched £66,700 ($87,358) at Bonhams’ Bicester Heritage auction in August 2020.

1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow

This 1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1951 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 694
Born 18 October 1951, this bike spent most of its life stored in dismantled condition, being acquired in 2006 and comprehensively restored over four years. The bike was shown at the April 2010 Stafford Classic Motorcycle Show, where it was adjudged "Best in Show." It has not been started since, so it is essentially in as-new condition and, although requiring a thorough recommissioning, it looks to be in excellent condition.

This auction sees two other Series-C Black Shadows available, being Lot 749 (£40,000 to £45,000 | Official Auction Description) and Lot 751 (£38,000 to £48,000 | Official Auction Description).

1940 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp

This 1940 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 hp is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1940 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 hp is estimated to sell for between $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $85,200 to $106,500 (£60,000 to £75,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 698
Brough Superior’s 11-50HP model might be a sidevalve engine, but the loping 1100cc v-twin was built specifically for Brough Superior by J A Prestwich to enable effortless 90-mph (145-km/h) solo touring or pulling the additional frontal area of sidecar along at 75 mph (120 km/h).

According to Peter Miller in his book Brough Superior - The Complete Story, the 11-50 “had been produced in response to requests from abroad, particularly from overseas police forces, for a machine with SS100 levels of performance but with the simplicity of the side valves and at a lower price.”

Not many engines sound quite like the 60-degree v-twin, but it’s the same configuration John Britten chose for his Britten V1000, that Porsche chose for the Harley V-Rod, that racing specialists Aprilia chose for the RSV Mille, and Polaris chose for the current Indian Scout.

The sound is quite distinctive, and according to Indian, was chosen because: 60 degrees is the goldilocks zone, it's where horsepower and torque meet in the middle to produce a massively wide powerband and flat torque curve, the feeling of having ample power available in any gear at any RPM, an engine that pulls consistently in any and all situations. It's where you can strike a balance between an engine that looks, feels, and sounds furious and one that rides equally as well.

The model record for the 11-50HP stands at a whopping £147,100 ($223,364), which was achieved when the 1937 Earls Court show bike went to auction in 2015 in “show condition.”

Though this particular bike was never prettied up to show condition, it does have a value that is, well, priceless: it is the very last Brough Superior to leave the Haydn Road Nottingham factory on 2 July 1940.

1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 & Petrol-Tube Sidecar

This 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 & Petrol-Tube Sidecar is estimated to sell for between $78,100 to $106,500 (£55,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 & Petrol-Tube Sidecar is estimated to sell for between $78,100 to $106,500 (£55,000 to £75,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $78,100 to $106,500 (£55,000 to £75,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 711
From the National Motorcycle Museum Collection
The Brough Superior 11-50 is one of the most natural sidecar motorcycles ever made, with the massive motor capable of taking the heavy lifting in its stride, so it’s only natural that the gentle giant often finds its way to auction as an outfit.

The most celebrated precedent for this bike was the Brough Superior outfit from the collection of biotechnologist John Craig Venter. Venter is best known for leading the first draft sequence of the human genome and the first team to transfect a cell with a synthetic chromosome. He’s also a motorcycle enthusiast and when Mecum sold his Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 during Monterey Car Week in 2016, it was fitted with the very first Brough Superior Alpine Petrol-Tube Sidecar. Mecum posted an advisory on the price at between $275,000 and $350,000, but in the end it sold for $160,000. Another 11-50 outfit that was used by the Brough Superior factory effort in the 1934 ISDE, and appeared in two seasons of the British TV series George & Mildred (1976-1979) and a several episodes of Dad's Army (1968-1977) fetched £71,300 ($92,073) in 2019.

The 11-50 outfit was initially requested by and built specifically for police forces, which is why outfits such as the bike at auction (originally delivered to the Sheffield Police in 1937) often end up at auction. Another 11-50 outfit once used by Sheffield Police sold for £85,500 ($104,225) in 2016, while an ex-police 11-50 outfit from Australia fetched AU$111,000 ($92,067) in 2014.

1914 Brough 497cc Model H

This 1914 Brough 497cc Model H is estimated to sell for between $71,000 to $99,400 (£50,000 to £70,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1914 Brough 497cc Model H is estimated to sell for between $71,000 to $99,400 (£50,000 to £70,000) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $71,000 to $99,400 (£50,000 to £70,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 707
From the National Motorcycle Museum Collection
This is not a Brough Superior, but one of the motorcycles produced by George Brough’s father’s motorcycle company, Brough. George had originally been made a partner in his father’s company but left after an argument and began his own company that would make history as the pre-eminent motorcycle manufacturer of pre-WW2 Britain, and one of the most revered names in two-wheel history.

Now 107 years old, this 500cc transverse flat-twin has an engine entirely of William Brough’s manufacture (something his better-known son didn’t do) and is believed to be the oldest survivor of its type. It was one of two Broughs discovered in a barn in 1974 that were original and unused since the 1920s. It was restored and acquired by the British National Motorcycle Museum in 1989. Might go well beyond its estimated price range.

MV Agusta Magni 862cc Racing Motorcycle

This MV Agusta Magni 862cc Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $56,800 to $63,900 (£40,000 to £45,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This MV Agusta Magni 862cc Racing Motorcycle is estimated to sell for between $56,800 to $63,900 (£40,000 to £45,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $56,800 to $63,900 (£40,000 to £45,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 661
One of the most famous race engineers of all time, Arturo Magni started with the MV Agusta race department in 1950, and became director of the racing department shortly thereafter, presiding over all of MV Agusta’s 74 World Championships, building, fettling, modifying and maintaining the bikes that were ridden by Agostini, Surtees, Read, Hailwood, Ubbiali et al. When MV Agusta shut down in 1974, Magni began manufacturing parts for MV Agusta 750S models, such as chain drive kits, racing exhausts, frames, wheels and eventually whole motorcycles. Arturo Magni passed away in 2015, but the company he began with his sons is healthier than ever and the product is beyond reproach.

Judged by the prices they fetch at auction, Magni MV Agusta 750S-based motorcycles appear to be regarded as genuine MV Agusta motorcycles, including 750S-based machines that have been turned into tribute bikes. A couple of examples of tribute racers that have sold at auction previously include this 1977 861cc Magni that sold for £64,220 ($83,800) from the Robert White Collection, this John Surtees Tribute racer that sold for €72,240 ($81,784), and this MV Agusta F750 Replica that fetched €54,166 ($62,215).

The auction bike was built as a tribute to the 500 that claimed MV's last Grand Prix win, has been paraded all over Europe for many years at tracks such as Dijon, Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps, Dundrod, Imola, Hockenheim, Aragon, the Isle of Man and many more, and has been ridden by Giacomo Agostini (who took that last win) at Mallory Park. At the anticipated price, this bike is hence a bargain-basement ticket to a different world.

1965 Velocette 499cc Thruxton

This 1965 Velocette 499cc Thruxton is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1965 Velocette 499cc Thruxton is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 758
The Velocette Thruxton is the quintessential British single, having outlasted the BSA Gold Star, Matchless G80, Norton ES2 et al to remain the last genuine single-cylinder sports bike still standing to face the Honda CB750 in 1969. Even though it was priced on par with the Japanese game-changer, it still performed a “Rorke’s Drift” type last stand and was still selling well in 1971 when the company folded.

Not just a pretty face, the Thruxton was named after the Thruxton 500 endurance race because it excelled in such events, running like clockwork, going long between stops, and simply but surely eating miles. In 1967, Thruxtons finished 1-2 in the 500cc Isle of Man Production TT, averaging 89.89 mph (144.66 km/h) and 89.15 mph (143.47 km/h), respectively.

The most remarkable feat of sustained speed though was in the 1966 Barcelona 24 Hours race where a Velocette Thruxton completed 624 laps to finish third outright. The next 500 class bike was in 18th place.

Not surprisingly, the record price paid for a Thruxton at auction is held by the bike that performed both of those feats, selling at a Bonhams auction for £37,800 (US$74,950) in 2008. So if you fancy a bike that you can really hustle along, with loads of character, the upper estimate on this era-defining machine is $40,000, or about the cost of Ferrari tool roll.

1989 Honda VFR750R Type RC30

This 1989 Honda VFR750R Type RC30 is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021
This 1989 Honda VFR750R Type RC30 is estimated to sell for between $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000 ) at Bonhams’ Three-day Summer Motorcycle Sale on 2-4 July, 2021

Estimate: $36,920 to $39,760 (£26,000 to £28,000)
Official Auction Description | Lot 805
Rare Hondas are rare animals, mainly because the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer does nearly everything at monumental scale. Even the Honda RC30, a homologation special designed so that Honda could win the World Superbike Championship (which it did) and dominate production racing everywhere (which it did), saw Honda race technicians hand-make 3,000 units - an astonishing number considering the exceptional build-quality.

The herd was culled somewhat by the racers of the world who were the main recipients of the sought-after machine – they crashed it and modified it, and did all they could to supercharge the attrition rate. Three thousand units is still a lot of motorcycles to tarnish in just three decades and assembling a list of the most expensive RC30s to sell at auction was remarkably illustrative.

Just one Honda VFR750R motorcycle has sold for more than $100,000 and another two have sold for more than $90,000.

The price record-holder fetched $121,000 during Las Vegas auction week in 2019, a sale we dubbed “The Sale of the Century.” It had just one mile on the odometer but had never been started, having clocked up most of the last decade in a museum during which time it had been pushed for its entire mileage.

The second most expensive RC30 was sold by Iconic in February this year for a total price of $96,300 and it too had one mile on the odometer. The third most expensive RC30 sold at auction fetched $92,000 at Bonhams’ Las Vegas auction in 2018 and it had 14 miles (22.5 km) on the clock. The fourth most valuable RC30 sold for £47,150 ($68,782) at Bonhams’ Autumn 2018 Staffordshire and it had 2 km (1.2 miles) on the clock. The fifth most expensive RC30 sold at Iconic in February 2021 for $66,340 and it was comparatively a high mileage model with 632 miles (1,017 km) showing, though Iconic wrote it was “the nicest one we’ve ever seen – yes, even nicer than some 0-mile examples.”

Firstly, note that the prices we quote include the buyer’s premium, so that we’re not comparing apples (auction houses that quote the winning bid without buyer’s premium) with oranges (those that quote the entire price paid by the buyer including buyer’s premium. e.g. Mecum and Bonhams).

Secondly, the moral of the above story is that when Honda sold the RC30 new for $14,995 in America and $17,995 in Canada, quite a few people recognized the potential of the bike as an investment and put them in storage and we suspect there are a lot more still in collections with just “push miles” on the clock.

Thirdly, if it has been used on the road for more than a few hundred clicks, even if it has exceptional provenance, it won’t sell for anywhere near $100,000 for a while yet – maybe another five to 10 years. The highest priced RC30 we could find with some form of provenance was raced by Steve Hislop for Honda Britain. It was prepared as a race bike by Honda Racing Corporation and sent from Japan specifically for the 1989 Isle of Man TT. The bike set the first 120-mph (193-km/h) lap of the Island circuit, doing so from a standstill, winning the Formula 1 TT and the Senior TT and leaving the lap record at 121.34 mph (195.28 km/h). Hislop won a number of other races on the bike including the Vila Real World Formula One race and the Ulster Grand Prix World Formula One race, winning both and setting the fastest lap in both races. How much did the fully restored former race bike fetch? At H&H in March 2007, the bike sold for £30,938 ($66,340).

So in terms of investments, there are only three people in the world that got more than twice their money back on a Honda RC30 after waiting for three decades, and one wonders how much pain they endured looking at an RC30 and not being able to ride it.

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