Bonhams’s Two-Day Motorcycle Sale Makes $1.9m

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Bonhams’ tradition for holding outstanding sales at Stafford continued this weekend with the first ever two-day sale in which 78% of the 700 lots sold for £1-million.

With a reputation as Europe’s foremost auctioneer of collectible motorcycles, Bonhams once again offered an unbeatable selection of machines, memorabilia and parts.

The two-day auction commenced with the (British Bikes) Lawrence Rose Dispersal sale on Saturday 21 October, featuring 160 lots of parts and memorabilia, and over 100 motorcycles offered, the majority with no reserve. Half of these were British bikes dating from the 1950s/1960s and attracted buyers from around the globe. With prices regularly exceeding pre-sale estimates, highlights included an unusual white 1950 Vincent Comet which realised £9,085 (estimate £5,000 – 7,000) while other machines of note were the 1967 Triumph T120 Bonneville (£4,945), the c.1959 AJS 16MC Trials (£3,910) and the c.1953 Triumph Speed Twin which more than doubled its estimate, selling for £4,600.

Also included in the sale on Saturday were two Italian machines that demonstrated the enduring attraction of the famous Ducati marque. Designed for bicycle attachment, the dainty Cucciolo (‘Little Pup’) launched the Bologna firm in style, and the c.1955 Mk2 version, estimated at £1,000 – 1,200, sold for £1,668. This was also the price paid for a model produced by the company over 30 years later – the rather quicker 1989 Ducati Paso 906, offered with 19,804 miles on the odometer.

The Bonhams auction on 22 October was packed with collectors from Europe and the USA. The centrepiece of the sale, Jim Redman’s 1964 Honda RC164 250cc works racer, achieved a provisional bid of £325,000 and with significant overseas interest, negotiations are still continuing to secure a sale. Jim Redman was at the sale and introduced his bike before bidding commenced. He witnessed the keen interest by collectors in his career – his three 1964 Dutch TT Winner’s silver trophies selling for £9,200.

Trophy collections of important racing motorcyclists rarely come onto the market and Bonhams was delighted to offer that of Charles ‘Chas’ Mortimer, one of Britain’s foremost Grand Prix contenders of the 1970s. Mortimer’s trophies included no fewer than 29 Isle of Man TT Silver Replicas which sold at or above estimates ranging from £200 – £800, with the 1978 TT trophy for the Junior race that he won selling for £1,553.

Another important private collection of single owner and low mileage motorcycles in the sale was that of Alan Dodsworth, a respected and highly knowledgeable motorcyclist who restored and maintained his varied collection to a very high standard. The 1955 Vincent Rapide Series D, which he bought as a restoration project in 1967 for the sum of £25, sold for £23,000.

Confirming the current trend that has seen highly original and unrestored machines attracting exceptional prices of late, the 1938 Triumph Speed Twin ‘barn find’, offered for restoration, sold for £6,325 against an estimate of £1,900 – 2,300, while another machine in similar condition, the 1936 Vincent-HRD Meteor, sold for £17,250.

Racing machines with Brooklands history have always been highly prized by collectors, and the 1928 AJS 495cc K10 – in single family ownership since the mid-1930s – was keenly contested, finally selling for £17,250 against a pre-sale estimate of £7,000 – 9,000.

A highly collectible future classic, the ‘zero miles’ 1988 Yamaha FZR750R OW01 – a limited edition ‘homologation special’ produced with the World Superbike Championship in mind – sold for £12,650, while another highly desirable Japanese super-sports roadster – the 1989 Suzuki RG500 Gamma with only 28 miles on the ‘clock’ – sold for £8,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £5,000 – 6,000.

Other highlights of the sale included:
-1958/59 Benelli 248cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle – sold for £71,900
-1998 Benelli 350cc Beale Replica Racing Motorcycle, sent over from the US for sale at Stafford – sold for £55,400
-1934 Brough Superior 11-50 – sold for £38,900
-c.1963 Honda 50cc CR110 Racing Motorcycle – sold for £28,750
-c.1910 FN Four-Cylinder, untouched since the 1950s – sold for £27,600
-1937 Norton 498cc International Manx Grand Prix Model – sold for £18,688
-1932 Ariel Square Four – sold for £14,663

Ben Walker, head of Bonhams’ motorcycle department said: “To sell £1-million worth of motorcycles at this year’s Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show is a fantastic result. The sale demonstrated emphatically that demand for unrestored, original machines is at an all time high. The 1910 FN made an exceptional price as did the 1938 Triumph Speed Twin – both were exceptionally original machines.

The price of Brough Superiors is certainly on the up. The first of the 11-50’s in the sale – which failed to sell online earlier this year – achieved £38,500 at the auction, surpassing the vendor’s expectations.”

Malcolm Barber, Bonhams CEO and international head of the motorcycle department said: “This sale once again showed the strength of the collectors’ motorcycle market and it demonstrated that a sale of this importance has to be linked with an established, renowned event such as The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show. The close collaboration between Bonhams and Mortons Media Group has ensured success now for many years.

It is interesting to note the many new registered bidders from Europe and America in this burgeoning market place for collectors’ machines. Three motorcycles were sent from the USA through Bonhams’ international network to sell at Stafford – two finding new owners. It is also worth noting that a well established dealer chose to sell up through an auction house.”