Faces at the Races: Vintage motorcycles at Road America

Race bikes, show bikes and plenty of people at the vintage-motorcycle races and show at Road America | William Hall photos
Race bikes, show bikes and plenty of people at the vintage-motorcycle races and show at Road America | William Hall photos

You meet the most interesting people at a racetrack. Here are just a few we encountered during the recent AHRMA Vintage Motorcycle races and Rockerbox Motofest at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Continue reading

Bonhams, Mecum show strength of vintage bike market

A Vincent White Shadow is on the block at Bonhams motorcycle sale in Las Vegas | Andy Reid photos
A Vincent White Shadow is on the block at Bonhams motorcycle sale in Las Vegas | Andy Reid photos

It is interesting that in January, which is usually the dead of winter, when few motorcycle riders are even considering riding their bikes, the two largest motorcycle auctions in the U.S. are held in Las Vegas. This is what happens every year and the weather did not dissuade prospective buyers from raising their hands to try and get the bike, or bikes, of their dreams.

No matter what kind of bikes you are into, we have to believe that there was a model to pique your interest at auctions staged by Bonhams and Mecum (details after the first photo gallery below). They had hundreds of motorcycles on offer, from the early teens to some of the latest and most advanced superbikes built today. Continue reading

Lonati motorcycle collection brings $2.05 million as Bonhams launches Stafford auction

Lonati collection showcased American-made motorcycles | Bonhams photos
Lonati collection showcased American-made motorcycles | Bonhams photos

Bonhams opened its Stafford Sale on Saturday with a single-owner collection of 60 vintage American motorcycles selling at a 91 percent sell-through for a total of more than $2.05 million (£1,331,535). Continue reading

Hagerty adds motorcycles to its valuation tool kit

1947 Indian Chief | Hagerty photos
1947 Indian Chief | Hagerty photos

The Hagerty Price Guide is being expanded to include classic motorcyles as well as four-wheeled collector vehicles.

The latest guide, published on the Hagerty Valuations Tools website, includes some 9,200 bikes built from 1894 through 1996 by 61 different manufacturers. Bikes are priced in four levels of condition. Also provided are model histories, current and historic pricing, and recent auction sales figures. Continue reading

Cole motorcycle collection hammers at nearly $12.3 million at Mecum sale

Nearly 1,000 people attend the auction of the E.J. Cole's motorcycle collection | Mecum photos by Jimmy Cliff
Nearly 1,000 people attend the auction of the E.J. Cole’s motorcycle collection | Mecum photos by Jimmy Cliff

Two motorcycles, one of them formerly owned by Steve McQueen, hammered sold for $650,000 or more at the E.J. Cole Collection sale conducted by Mecum Auctions at the South Point Casino and Exhibit Hall in Las Vegas. The auction attracted nearly 1,000 bidders and spectators. Total sales were nearly $12.3 million, and that figure does not include buyer’s fees. Continue reading

Mecum to auction 750 motorcycles in Vegas

An elegant 1912 Indian single-cylinder motorcycle | Mecum
An elegant 1912 Indian single-cylinder motorcycle | Mecum photos

The largest Mecum MidAmerica motorcycle auction, with more than 750 antique and collector bikes coming up for sale, takes place January 8-10 at the South Point Casino and Exhibit Hall in Las Vegas.

Everything from Harleys to Hondas, Triumphs to Moto Guzzis, and ranging from early 20th Century motorbikes to classic performance and racing machines will be auctioned during the three-day sale.

The 24th annual MidAmerica Motorcycle auction, which is now owned by the Mecum auction company, will feature two-wheeled beauties from 10 private collections, including those from such well-known bikers as Shane Van Pelt, Don Andress, David Silver and Buddy Stubbs.

A 1936 BSA classic V-twin
A British classic V-twin 1936 BSA Model Y13

“The consignments to be offered this year are, in every sense of the word, treasures to the antique motorcycle world,” said Ron Christenson, president of Mecum’s MidAmerica Motorcycle division, in a news release.

“They will truly excite even the most seasoned motorcycle collector as they cross the auction block. And with our largest offering ever, there is undoubtedly something that will please virtually any motorcycle enthusiast.”

Among the offerings will be several historic racing motorcycles, along with such special items as the stunt bike used in the 1990 Captain America movie from the Gary Davis Collection. Early board-track racers, ’30s cruisers and rare European exotics also will cross the block.

For more information about the Las Vegas motorcycle sale, see mecum.com.

Rare British bikes highlight Bonhams motorcycle sale

 show-quality 1938 Bough Superior SS100 is among the British bikes at auction | Bonhams photos
A show-quality 1938 Bough Superior SS100 is among the British bikes at auction | Bonhams photos

Bonhams holds its fifth annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction on January 8 at Bally’s Hotel & Casino, offering around 230 American, Japanese and European two-wheelers as well as a selection of vintage motorcycle posters, parts and collector’s items.

The headliner is a group of rare British bikes from the collection of Vincent motorcycle expert Herb Harris of Texas, including such special machines as the 1946 Vincent HRD 1X Prototype Series B V-twin – the first post-war Vincent made – the 1954 Vincent Black Prince Prototype, a bright-red 1949 Vincent Rapide C with matching Blacknell Bullet sidecar, plus classic motorcycles from BSA, Matchless and AJS.

A classic 1948 Indian Chief will be offered in Vegas
A classic 1948 Indian Chief will be offered in Vegas

The Harris collection also features a dozen cutaway show engines from English manufacturers BSA, Ariel, Matchless, Norton, Sunbeam and Triumph. There also are two complete BSA motorcycles that have been sectioned to show their inner workings.

A number of other premium motorcycles from England will be auctioned, including a spectacular and concours-winning 1938 Bough Superior SS100 and a 1938 Rudge Special 500, along with 1950-70s Triumphs, Nortons and BSAs that are ready to ride.

Italian bikes are well-represented, including those coming from the Jack Silverman Museum Racing Collection of Ducati motorcycles. Competition bikes include a 1995 Ducati Supermono from Sound of Singles road racing and a 1957 F.B. Mondial 250cc Bialbero GP raced by Mike Hailwood.

The Harley-Davidson and Indian motorcycles at auction date to the early days of motorcycling, and include a selection of restored vintage models from a private collection.

There also will be a few celebrity bikes, such as those once owned by Easy Rider co-stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper.

For more information about the Bonhams motorcycle auction, see Bonhams.com.

Simeone museum’s classic motorcycle exhibition features Vincent, Brough Superior

Rollie Free sets speed record on a Vincent | Simeone Museum photo
Rollie Free sets speed record on a Vincent | Simeone Museum photo

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum’s annual classic motorcycle show for 2014 will feature Vincent/HRD, Brough Superior and pre-1974 250cc-and-under bikes. The show runs from August 16 through September 12 at the museum in Philadelphia. The bikes then head for another display, this one at the 18th annual Radnor Hunt Concours d’Elegance on September 14.

Vincent, of course, is the famed British brand established in 1928 at HRD Motorcycles. HRD was short-lived, however, and was sold twice that same year, the second time for 450 pounds to Philip Vincent, whose family had money to support his efforts, which included building his own engines.

For many years, Vincents were the fastest production motorcycles on the planet. A photograph of Rollie Free setting a speed record at Bonneville in 1948 while wearing his swimming trunks on a Vincent Black Lightning has become legendary.

The bikes were fast but very expensive to produce, and the company went bankrupt in 1955.

While Vincents were known for their speed, Brough Superior bikes were considered the “Rolls-Royce of Motorcycles.” They were produced from 1919 to 1940, and around 1,000 of the 3,048 built remain in existence.

T.E. Lawrence, better known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia, owned seven Brough Superiors, and he died of injuries sustained in a crash while riding one of them.

A special feature of the motorcycle show at the Simeone will be a photography workshop August 17 featuring Dawn Deppi, who will discuss her techniques for photographing motorcycles. Also participating will be experts from Canon, Macgroup and New York Camera.

Information on the motorcycle show and photography workshop can be found on the Simeone website.

Eye Candy: Vroom: The Art of the Motorcycle at Forest Lawn

Photos by Howard Koby

Did you know that Forest Lawn, the famed cemetery in Glendale, California, has a museum? Or that the current exhibition in that museum is entitled “Vroom: The Art of The Motorcycle?”

The exhibition features rare motorcycles with stained glass as a backdrop and an arcane collection of motorcycle-themed art including hand-painted gas tanks, black-and-white cartoons, poster art and striking sculpture.

One goal for co-curator and motorcycle historian and collector John Parker and museum director Joan P. Adan was to present an in-depth look at the changing history of motorcycle trends highlighting the effect and influence of the west coast.

The Forest Lawn Museum is a hidden but impressive structure located on the top of a hill in a cemetery in a peaceful, quiet setting and contains medieval art, religious relics, original artwork by Homer, Matisse and Rembrandt, among others along, with a partial collection by publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.

Each historic motorcycle in the exhibition sits on a custom-built platform. You get a feeling of respect and appreciation for all art forms as you view them and the hand-painted gas tanks, secured on walls in exceptional design.

There also are more than 10 painted helmets, including a reproduction Peter Fonda helmet worn in the ’69 movie classic Easy Rider. The helmets were done by artists Troy Lee, Sara Ray and Pete “Hot Dog” Finlan. Also shown are racing photographs by Mitch Friedman, artfully placed on museum walls throughout the show.

Noted artists represented are Automotive Fine Arts Society member Tom Fritz (creator of the U.S .Postal Service’s Muscle Car Stamp Series); Syd Mead, graduate of Art Center College of Design and visual futurist and conceptual artist who worked on Hollywood films Blade Runner, Tron 2010, Aliens and Mission: Impossible III; renowned artist William Stout; graphic master Von Franco, who worked with Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth; Harley-Davidson’s official sculptor Jeff Decker; and Drew Stuzan, who illustrated over 150 movie posters including Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Star Wars and many more.

The rare and compelling two-wheeled machines on display are second to none, including an impeccably restored 1910 Flying Merkel, a 1914 Harley-Davidson board track racer, a 1938 Crocker formerly owned by Otis Chandler, a 1938 Indian Sport Scout Flat Track Racer, and a Galoise-blue 1939 Indian Chief that was once owned by Steve McQueen.

Also, a 1945/1965 Harley-Davidson Drag Bike ‘The Hog’ that set the track record at Lion’s Drag Strip at 127 mph in the quarter mile, a 1947 Harley UL ‘California Cut-Down,’ a distinctive 1953 Gilora Road Racer from the collection of Barry Weiss (Storage Wars), a 1968 ESO Speedway (racer Bobby “Boogaloo” Schwartz), a 1953 Moto Guzzi Falcone which has never been on display but is presented by one of the foremost restorers of antique motorcycles in America, Mike Parti, a 1999 Ducati 996RS (capable of 200 mph) raced by English ace Carl Fogarty, a 2006 Suzuki GSKR 1000 Race Bike (187 mph), and a 2009 Transformers Suzuki B-King featured in the 2009 movie Transformers’ Revenge of the Fallen.

The museum was recently named one of the top 10 free museums in the country by Yahoo Travel.

The “Vroom” show will be on view through January 5, 2015.

For more info visit www.forest-lawn.com