Eclectic motorcycles race to record-breaking sales

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2015-06-26 10:55:46

Eclectic motorcycles race to record-breaking sales

17 Aug 2012, 12:24 GMT+01

Motorcycles were centre stage on the first day of Bonhams two-day Quail Lodge Sale on August 16th.

Nearly 60 rare and unique bikes were offered for this Pebble Beach Car Week auction, many from the collections of a private European collector, the late Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler, and Eddie Rickenbacker’s Bar & Grill in San Francisco.

Top of the bill were three Crockers, a legend among American motorcycles. Crockers possess almost mythic status among collectors. Founded in 1936, the company manufactured just 150 hand-built custom bikes, before the Second World War scuppered production. The last motorcycle left the Los Angeles factory 70 years ago, and today, only around 50 examples are thought to still exist. These are among the most desirable motorcycles of all time, and to see three in a single sale is a momentous occasion indeed.

The first, a 1937 Crocker V-Twin Engine no. 37-61-24 in blue, sold for $291,000. A 1940 Crocker ‘Big Tank’ V-Twin Engine no. 40.61.109 in turquoise fetched $302,000. This price was matched by a 1937 Crocker V-Twin Engine no. 37-61-25 in red. These all beat the previous record set for a Crocker, that of the 1937 Hemi-Head formerly owned by Steve McQueen, which sold for $276,500 in 2006.

Hot on the heels of the Crockers was a 1937 Brough Superior SS100, restored by UK specialist J W Tennant-Eyles, selling for $203,000. This between-the-wars Golden-Age-for-motorcycles scrambler remains synonymous with high-performance and engineering excellence.

Lamentably, several high-valued hopefuls did not sell, including a 1920 Mars Type A20, estimate $100,000-$125,000, and a 1970 BSA Rocket 3 Rob North Factory Racer, estimate $160,000-$200,000.

However, Hendersons came up trumps, a 1925 Henderson Four Frame fetching $51,750, and a delightfully quirky 1913 Henderson Four selling for $57,500.

Talking of quirky, the adorable 1948 Doodlebug art-deco scooter and the 1951 Whizzer Sportsman ‘the paper-boy’s delight’ sold for $2,300 a piece. A 1956 Eysink Renata 50cc Model B Tandem Moped for the romantically inclined petrol head fetched $8,050. The clunky steampunk-esque 1924 Ner-A-Car sold for $14,375, and the 1911 Excelsior Auto-Cycle fetched $30,475. These, alongside several further trendy motorised bicycles from the early 1900s, made for an eclectic selection of motorised vehicles, despite the unsold disappointments.

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