While Monterey Car Week's raft of auctions are primarily about cars, there's always a smattering of top class motorcycles going to auction. And with Mid-America auctions, America's largest motorcycle auction house, recently becoming part of Mecum, many of Mecum's lots featured significant motorcycles. Several of the major auction houses also included motorcycle lots in their catalogs, too.
This is not a normal auction report in that we've included a number of significant bikes that didn't sell, and we've listed them with their high bid. While auction sell-through rates were down on the car side of things, with some spectacular successes for very special offerings, the motorcycle results were downright depressing, with many spectacular motorcycles being sold for well below estimate and many more not even attracting bids of half their estimate.
Gooding & Company sold one of the original 400 batch of the Ducati 750 SS for a world record price, but there were no other motorcycle highlights in the entire five days of auctions.
This is both good and bad news for the enthusiast because some of the better motorcycles are clearly still available for sale and the next big round of motorcycle auctions isn't until January in Las Vegas, so that knocking you hear might be opportunity.
$40,000 (high bid) - 1949 Vincent 1000cc Rapide
This bike didn't sell with a high bid of just US$40,000 against a conservative estimate of $70,000 to $75,000. Very original and not overly restored, and enough paperwork to validate that it's exactly what it appears to be: a very good example of one of motorcycling's most desirable classic motorcycles. Still available.
$40,000 (high bid) – 1912 Thor Model U Twin
A rare and highly desirable motorcycle from the annals of American motorcycle history, the 76.25 cubic inch (1250cc) Model U V-twin was marketed by Thor in period as the most powerful motorcycle yet known. The record at auction for the model was set in 2015 by Mecum Mid-America during the Las Vegas auctions when a 1914 model sold for $77,000 and a 1918 model sold for £32,200 ($49,715) in Bonhams' Lonatti Collection sale in October, 2015. Still available.
$55,000 – 1916 Harley-Davidson 16T V-Twin Board Tracker
From the Dr. J. Craig Venter Collection and previously museum displayed.
$55,000 – 1913 Indian Single Board Track Racer
From the Venter Collection, this bike was restored by Jim Prosper, whose restorations are some of the most accurate. The bike uses an original 1913 Indian frame and engine, and the bike has been museum displayed.
$52,000 (high bid) – 1931 BMW R16
Originally from the Willy Neutkens Collection of Important BMW Motorcycles, this bike was estimated to fetch between $75,000 and $100,000 but only attracted a high bid of $52,000. Still available.
$67,000 (high bid) – 1929 BMW R63
Estimated to sell for between $90,000 and $110,000, the bike attracted a high bid of just $67,000 and is still available. The R63 is very rare, as it was produced in low volume and was the first 750cc overhead valve motorcycle BMW produced. In the company's centenary year, it was an even more inexplicable result.
$79,200 – 1910 Harley-Davidson Single Belt Drive
A very early and hence rare Harley 30 ci (500cc) single with full documentation from the Venter Collection.
$77,500 (high bid) - 1927 BMW R47S
A very rare and very early factory race bike that was expected to sell in the $110,000 to $130,000 range but attracted a high bid of just $77,500 and was passed in. It is hence still available.
$88,000 – 1912 Indian Racer
A largely original Indian racer from more than a century ago, still with the original paint.
$93,500 – 1914 Flying Merkel Twin
From 50 years in the collection of AMCA founding member and AMA Hall of Fame inductee Emmett Moore, this very original and completely unmolested century-old motorcycle still has the original tank graphics. It was expected to sell in the $150,000 to $175,000 range but hammered for $85,000, which adds up to a total $93,500 price with the buyer's premium included. What a bargain!
$104,500 – 1939 Indian Four
From the last year of the sporty Indian fours, this bike was sold with less than 500 miles since a complete rebuild.
$107,250 – 1915 Harley-Davidson J
The Model J was released in 1915 with a massive 37 percent power increase, a primary-case clutch and a three-speed gearbox so well engineered that it was still in use two decades later. This is a landmark model from an iconic manufacturer with an original matching Harley-Davidson factory 1915 sidecar, and it has been so spectacularly restored that the owner was invited to exhibit this machine at the Pebble Beach Concours. An exceptional example of the most coveted vintage Harley-Davidson roadster.
$110,000 – 1913 Excelsior Twin
Another bike expected to sell for much more (estimated at $125,000 to $150,000) but which sold for a lot less in Monterey this year. This bike is a completely unrestored example of a 103-year-old motorcycle with no non-original parts other than consumables and perishables. Another bargain.
$133,100 – 1942 Indian Four Cylinder
This beautifully restored Indian Four was the first one off the production line in the final year of Indian Four Cylinder production. It was estimated to sell for $200,000 to $250,000 but the final bid of $121,000 landed the prize, adding up to $133,100 with buyer's premium and another Monterey bargain.
$176,000 – 1939 Brough Superior 11-50
The equal highest price paid for a motorcycle in Monterey Car Week 2016, and despite that, a bargain. Part of the Venter Collection, fully documented and the very first (Serial #101) Alpine sidecar. It was estimated to sell for between $275,000 and $350,000. More pics in the gallery.
$176,000 – 1974 Ducati 750 Superspor
A new world record for the bike which put Ducati on the map, beating out the previous record of $152,885 (sold for €114,371) set at the Paris Retromobile auctions in February, 2013 by Artcurial and moving the 750 SS into a price bracket previously only achieved by NCR race bikes (but still well below the two Desmosedicis sold by RM in 2012).
This is 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.
$190,000 (high bid) – 2014 Lotus C-0
The second highest unaccepted bid on a motorcycle of the Monterey Car Week and less than half it's estimated sell price of $370,000 to $450,000. One of 100, and with blistering 200 hp 1200cc KTM v-twin performance, a titanium and carbon fiber frame, and ... never ridden. Still available.
$280,000 (high bid) – 1938 Crocker Small Tank
This bike was passed in with what is undoubtedly the lowest high bid on a Crocker for the best part of a decade. It was estimated to sell for $300,000 to $350,000 so reserve price was only $20,000 away and the bike appeared in excellent original condition as it has been mechanically restored, but with great care taken to preserve it's patina and highly original condition. If it's still available, just remember that there are only 72 Crockers extant. Even our man at Monterey 2016, Angus MacKenzie, a car guy through and through, managed to get emotional over this bike. In need of a loving home.