Many exciting motorcycles went to auction during the Villa Erba auction last Saturday, and in a sign that the motorcycle market is undergoing change, most of the really big ticket items failed to sell. Here's a quick rundown of the main bikes and how they fared.
No sale | 1928 Brough Superior SS100 "Moby Dick"
The Brough Superior SS100, nicknamed "Moby Dick" by Motor Cycling (UK) magazine in 1931, went to auction at Villa Erba and we expected it to shuffle it's way back to the top of the listings. The last time the bike went to auction it was sold by Bonhams for £210,500 (US$333,210) in 2011, becoming one of the top 10 most valuable motorcycles ever sold. This time around, Moby Dick was estimated by auctioneers RM-Sothebys to sell for between EUR€500,000 and EUR€700,000 (US$550,000 to US$770,000), but it failed to make reserve and was passed in. The high bid was €420,000 ($469,590). Auction Link
No sale | 2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cylinder
This is not an original MV Agusta 500 racing triple, but it is a perfect replica of one that was created by Italy's HRT Engineering. HRT's principals are Ezio and Maurizio Mascheroni and Enrico Sironi, and the company was involved in creating the current MV Agusta 675 triple. Sironi was also part of the MV Agusta tech team when Agostini was riding the real one. The bike was built using the original technical drawings and when Agostini saw HRT's first replica, he ordered one and this is the bike they built for him. It was auctioned with Ago's signature on the fairing and a letter confirming his ownership. It was subsequently ridden at the Isle of Man in an exhibition lap by the seven-time 500 champ and when it went to auction last Saturday, it didn't sell. Bidding only went to €175,000 (US$195,663) against an estimate of €200,000 to €250,000. Auction Link
No sale | 1936 Brough Superior SS100
An expertly restored specimen of a Matchless-engined Brough Superior SS100, the bike just failed to make reserve with a high bid of €170,000 (US$190,072) against an official estimate of €180,000 to €250,000. Auction Link
No sale | 1957 Gilera 500 4-Cylinder
We got so excited when we heard this bike was going to auction that we wrote a feature article on the glorious history of the machine, only to subsequently find that the claimed Scuderia Duke history was incorrect and the provenance is indeterminate. We're not sure what the story is, but there must be some validity to the bike's claim to authenticity because it managed to attract a high bid of €150,000 (US$167,711) which was not accepted. The original estimate of €380,000 to €450,000 was almost irrelevant when the provenance story fell through. Auction Link
$160,248 | 1954 BMW RS 54
Somewhat anti-climactically, the top selling bike of the auction only achieved the fifth highest bid, but it was the first to be accepted. This bike is a construction based around a RS 54 BMW racing engine from a sidecar, so it isn't entirely authentic. Just the same, it fetched in the vicinity of several previous genuine RS 54 bikes that have gone to auction with a final price of €143,325 (US$160,248). Auction Link
$130,814 | 1938 Brough Superior SS80 De Luxe
This very original SS80 sold for €117,000 (US$130,814) against an estimate of €100,000 to €150,000. Auction Link
No sale | 1933 Brough Superior SS80 De Luxe
Restored but absolutely identical to the way it left the Brough Superior factory 84 years ago, this SS80 De Luxe attracted a high bid of €100,000 (US$111,807) against an estimate of €120,000 to €180,000. Auction Link
$113,809 | 1974 MV Agusta 750 S
Beginning life as a 750 GT model, this bike was converted to a 750 America specification, which somewhat reduces it's authenticity. But on the plus side, the bike was owned by Gianfranco Bonera (pictured below), who just happened to finish second in the World 500cc Motorcycle Racing Championship on an MV Agusta in 1974, the year this bike was made.
His MV Agusta team mate that year was Phil Read, who won the company's last world title, and Bonera won the 500cc Grand Prix at Imola that year, which is just a short way down the road from the site of this auction, as is the MV factory. We think that connection more than makes up for the maternity ward mix up, and so did the winning bidder who paid €101,790 (US$113,809) for the bike and the story that goes with it. Auction Link
$111,192 | 1968 MV Agusta 861 Magni
Another MV Agusta Sport that began life as a lesser model, being the original 600cc four-cylinder machine first created by MV Agusta, though this one was eventually turned into a full-blown Magni 861 spec bike by Giovanni Magni, complete with that company's famous chain-drive conversion. The bike sold for €99,450 (US$111,192). Auction Link
$88,300 | 1968 Egli-Vincent 1330 Café Racer by Godet
No sale | 2011 Brough Superior SS100 750 "Baby Pendine"
This is quite a significant motorcycle in the history of Brough Superior, but as with most other items at auction, true perspective doesn't seem to kick in for at least a few decades. Such was the case with this bike at auction. Though it holds several world speed records from Bonneville that were set in 2013, and was expected to sell for between €100,000 and €150,000, bidding only went to €55,000 (US$61,494). Auction Link
$32,704 | 1937 Zündapp K800
One of the bargains of the entire auction IMHO, this 1937 Zundapp is not just gorgeous, it's one of the rare 800cc four cylinder models of which just 550 were produced and far fewer have survived. Given it sold for just €29,250 (US$32,704) ... it was a steal. Auction Link
$26,163 | 1963 Norton Manx 30M
Another one of those auction items that one looks at in retrospect and cannot help but wonder why it went so cheaply. It's a 1963 Manx Norton and normally would be expected to sell for between two and three times the price it went for here. That is, until you realize that it is believed to be the bike ridden by Australian Jack Ahearn to second place in the 1964 World 500cc Motorcycle Championship (behind Mike Hailwood and ahead of Phil Read) and the winning bike in the 1964 Finnish Grand Prix. €23,400 (US$26,163) Auction Link
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