It's hard to interpret the results of this year's Las Vegas auctions. A look back to our preview last week will show that most of the bikes with really high estimates failed to sell, yet an analysis of the top 50 bikes to sell during the three day event shows many world record prices for models and marques, high sell-through rates and gross numbers larger than ever.
Vincent motorcycles dominated January's Las Vegas Motorcycle auctions this year, with seven of the top ten most expensive bikes of the two auctions, and a new world record for any Vincent motorcycle of US$434,000 going to a Chinese Red Vincent White Shadow 1000cc V-twin
At the top end of the marketplace, there seems to have been an expectation from sellers that was not met by buyers, and as reserves were set above what the market was prepared to pay, the "zone of potential agreement" between buyers and sellers at the top end has evaporated almost entirely.
The mid-range in the market, though, grew in Las Vegas with seventies motorcycles in particular selling for record numbers.
We're preparing a market analysis at present, so here's a list of the links and a brief synopsis of the top 50 motorcycles to sell in the three days of auctions, plus a few interesting bikes which sold for a lot less.
$434,000 – 1951 Vincent White Shadow
Bonhams Lot 135 was the star of the three day auction, being one of 15 White Shadows ever built, and the only one made with a Chinese Red paint scheme. Sold by just it's third owner, the bike has a number of subtle but significant mods, including Carrillo connecting rods, more modern Amal Mk.II carbs, electronic ignition and a two-step, high-volume oil pump, plus the bits which were replaced and 200 pages of restoration receipts.
Vincent Black Shadows are the most prominent single model in the top 250, but the most valuable Vincent Shadow is the White Shadow as only 15 were ever built, and at the same Bonhams auction at Bally's Hotel & Casino held one year ago (January 2015), a 1950 Vincent Series C "White" Shadow sold for $224,250, setting a world record for the model. This bike is now the new record holder for the model, and the marque, surpassing the previous most expensive Vincent to have sold at auction, a 1939 Vincent Series A Rapide which sold for $418,940 (£275,900) in April, 2015.
$181,500 – 1912 Henderson Four
Mecum Lot S74 is a first year Henderson Four. One of the rarest machines in the world with only about a half dozen known to exist, this bike is fully restored having been last registered in South America in 1937. This bike already held the title of the most expensive Henderson ever sold, having fetched $225,500 at the E. J. Cole Collection auction in March, 2015. This time around, it fetched $50,000 less. A 1917 model also sold for $209,000 in March, 2015.
$164,500 – 1955 Vincent Series-D Black Prince
Bonhams Lot 151, a 1955 Vincent Series-D Black Prince, became the most expensive example of the fully-enclosed Black Shadow ever sold at auction, surpassing the previous record of £91,100 ($153,094) set in June 2014 for another 1955 model which was in basketcase condition. Only around 200 Black Princes were ever built.
$153,500 – 1948 Vincent Series-B Black Shadow
Bonhams Lot 108, a 1948 Series-B Black Shadow, is something of a rarity with just 76 being made before Series-C production began in 1949. Over 1,500 of the Series-C Black Shadow were built, so on the basis of scarcity, this bike in particular could have gone higher. With all the numbers being right, it resulted in a world record price for the model.
$142,500 – 1953 Vincent Series-C Black Shadow
Bonhams Lot 95 is a 1953 Series-C Black Shadow with a complete history and an odometer reading that is believed to be correct, of just 14,600 miles.
$137,000 – 1951 Vincent Series-C Black Shadow
Bonhams Lot 152 (link to official auction page)
$132,000 – 1955 Vincent Series-D Black Prince
Mecum Lot S174 was the second Black Prince to sell in Vegas during the auctions, establishing the model in the $135,000 to $165,000 range.
$126,500 – 1929 Cleveland Tornado
Mecum Lot F141 is a 1929 Cleveland Tornado, the final incarnation of the Cleveland four before the company went into bankruptcy in the months following the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Cleveland is best known for it's four cylinder bikes, but in becoming the most valuable example of the marque ever sold at auction, it displaces on of Cleveland's 220cc two-stroke singles. The 1919 Cleveland 13.5ci which was sold by Bonhams for $93,600 in 2007, had been restored by Kennie "Von Dutch" Howard in the early 1970s for the Brucker family's famous "Movie World Cars of the Stars" museum in Buena Park, California.
$126,500 – 2004 MTT Y2K Turbine
Mecum Lot S148 is a turbine-powered Marine Turbine Technologies Y2K producing 320 hp and 425 lb.ft of torque, one of the fastest motorcycle in existence. An unfaired Y2K has been clocked at 233.7 mph (376.1 km/h) over a flying mile. Not many of these bikes have been built because they sold new in 2004 at nearly $200,000 each, and hence even fewer have gone to auction.
The previous record for the model was held by a 2002 model which sold for $89,100 at the Barrett-Jackson's Petersen Museum auction at the Barrett-Jackson's Petersen Museum auction in 2004. Still in production, now with a 425 hp motor, the future for MTT's turbine motorcycles looks bright on the auction block, considering how youthful the brand is and that bikes of ten years of age rarely sell for anything like their retail price for many years.
$125,000 – 1954 Vincent Series-C Black Shadow
Bonhams Lot 109 (link to official auction page)
$121,000 – 1956 BSA Gold Star Clubman Cutaway
Mecum Lot S175 is a 1956 BSA Gold Star Clubman Cutaway built by BSA for the 1956 Earls Court (London) Motorcycle Show, the world's most important at the time – the cutaway BSA Gold Star is electrically driven to show movement of the engine internals, wheels and suspension. The mechanical masterpiece was the subject of a feature in Gizmag when the bike went to auction in 2015 but failed to sell.
At that time it was expected to fetch between $250,000 and $350,000, roughly 10-20 times the price of a well restored example of the sectionalized model displayed. While the marketplace finally judged it to be worth less than half of that value, it is still the most valuable BSA ever sold at auction. The previously most expensive BSA was the 1973 Triumph TRX Formula 750 triple (it was really a BSA Rocket Three) which sold for $104,760 in Las Vegas in 2014 by Mecum MidAmerica.
$120,500 – 1977 MV Agusta 750S America
Bonhams Lot 101 is a 1977 MV Agusta 750S America with just 41 miles on the odometer. The original owner purchased this bike in the summer of 1978, rode it for 41 miles and then hid it away in museum-quality storage for 45 years. Only 540 Americas were ever made. The record price for an MV Agusta 750 S is £85,500 ($143,661) achieved by Bonhams in April, 2014 and making this the second most valuable example of the marque to sell at auction.
$120,500 – 1938 Brough Superior SS80
Bonhams Lot 153 is a Brough Superior SS80 with a SS100 engine, meaning it should be capable of sustaining 100 mph. From 1924 to 1936 these bikes used the twin-cam JAP KTOR v-twin and for what proved to be the final two years of SS100 production, Brough switched to the 990cc overhead valve v-twin Matchless BX engine. Only about 300 of these Matchless SS100s were produced.
$115,000 – 1910 Royal Pioneer 30.50 ci (500cc) single
Bonhams Lot 120 is a rare 1910 Royal Pioneer 30.50 cubic inch (500cc) single, one of just four known to exist of the 500 produced before fire swept the company's new factory in December 1909. Production ceased with the fire. The bike in Las Vegas already held the world record for the marque when it sold for $92,000 in May, 2010. This time around, the bike sold for $115,000, pushing the record still higher.
$115,000 – 1971 MV Agusta 750S
Bonhams Lot 161 became the third most expensive MV Agusta in history. It's slightly rarer than the MV Agusta America which sold at this auction for $120,500, but not in the same "time warp" condition. Beootiful plumage!
$103,500 – 2007 Confederate B120 Wraith
Bonhams Lot 114 had a very conservative estimate of $38,000 to $44,000, at which price it would have clearly been an absolute steal. Few machines ever regain their initial purchase price, particularly in the first decade, but the Wraith is already close. As we said in the preview of the auction, "If you believe, as I do, that the Confederate brand will endure and prosper, then the 1999 Hellcat and the 2007 B120 Wraith offer prime investment potential."
$103,500 – 1922 Ace Four with sidecar
Most American four cylinder motorcycles owe something to William Henderson, but it was Henderson's second attempt at building a four cylinder motorcycle from scratch, the Ace, which became his defining legacy. Henderson was killed aged 39 on 11 December 1922 in a motor vehicle accident while testing the new Ace Sporting Solo in Philadelphia, a direct relation to this machine. Though production continued for several more years, the soul of the company died that day.
Bonhams Lot 119 was produced in the same calendar year, one of just five years of Ace production. It's hence not surprising that those Aces that remain in existence are beginning to rise through the rankings of the world's most valuable motorcycles. The world record for an Ace Four was set by a 1923 model in August, 2010 when it sold for $128,400 at a (now Mecum) MidAmerica auction. Another Ace Four (a 1920 model) sold for $126,500 at the E.J. Cole Collection auction on 21 March, 2015. This bike becomes the third most valuable Ace to have crossed the block. Ironically, a 1920 Ace Four was passed in at Mecum with a high bid of $150,000. Had the reserve been met, that bike would have become the most valuable Ace ever sold.
$103,500 – Steve McQueen's 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled
Bonhams Lot 121 was a 1963 Triumph Bonneville trail bike which was ridden extensively by Steve McQueen, after his friend and trail riding buddy Bud Ekins built it for him and another friend, Kenny Howard (better known as Von Dutch) painted it. The bike had a very conservative estimate of $50,000 to $60,000 given it had sold previously at a Bonhams auction in 2009 for $84,240, becoming the most expensive Triumph ever sold at auction.
The modest price increase makes it is still the second most expensive Triumph ever sold at auction, exceeded by only the 1973 Triumph TRX Formula 750 triple (with a BSA three cylinder engine) which sold for $104,760 in 2014. The other McQueen bike on sale was the 1949 Indian Arrow which was used by Steve McQueen to teach his wife Barbara how to rebuild a carby. It failed to sell with a high bid of $50,000.
$100,050 – 1928 BMW R57
Though there were more valuable BMW motorcycles available in Vegas, this bike eventually became the most expensive of a bevy of desirable BMWs. BMW began manufacturing motorcycles in 1923 and for 1928 it introduced the new, overhead-valve R57 sports 500cc twin with a square 68 mm bore and stroke, a hand-shift 3-speed gearbox and electric lighting, not a bad specification for 88 years ago. R57 production lasted for only three years and not surprisingly, this bike, Bonhams Lot 139, set a new record at auction for the model.
$99,000 – 1939 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead
Mecum Lot S65 is a 1939 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead, one of the most important American motorcycle models ever produced as it set Harley-Davidson on it's current path of styling. Indeed, the Knucklehead also had a duplex frame, and the first OHV Big Twin from Milwaukee for the street. The record for a Knucklehead at auction is held by a 1936 model which fetched $178,200 in 2014.
$94,300 – 1913 Pope Model L Twin
Bonhams Lot 123 is a 1913 Pope Model L, a 70 mph 1000cc V-twin produced for six years until 1918, and at the time of it's introduction, the fastest production motorcycle in the world. The world record for the marque and model is $126,500, set at the E. J. Cole Collection sale last year.
$92,000 – 1950 Vincent Black Shadow
Bonhams Lot 80 (link to official auction page)
$99,000 – 1914 Flanders Model D Twin
Mecum Lot S113.1 is the only known Flanders V-twin in existence, selling for $88,000 as part of Gooding's Otis Chandler Collection in 2006, then selling again at a Bonhams auction in 2010 for $78,200 and at it's third auction in 10 years, it narrowly failed to pass $100,000. $100,000 for a one-of-one, century-old American V-twin seems cheap to me.
$94,600 – 1937 Brough Superior SS80
Mecum Lot S158 is a mostly original 1937 Brough Superior SS8.
$80,500 – 1955 Vincent Series-D Rapide
Bonhams Lot 178 is a 1955 Vincent Series-D Rapide rebuilt to Black Shadow specification.
$85,250 – 1929 BMW R63
Mecum Lot F167 is the 750cc version of the 500cc R57 (one sold higher in this list) and equally as rare. It narrowly missed out on a new record for the model, which is held by a 1928 model which sold for €67,850 ($101,504) at a Bonhams auction in 2010.
$79,750 – 1917 Henderson Board Tracker
Mecum Lot F69 is a unique Henderson four board tracker, the only Henderson board track race bike known to exist.
$77,000 – 1912 Pope H
Mecum Lot S155 was an unrestored running 104 year-old motorcycle. This bike took first place in the antique category and the FIVA Preservation award at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering in May 2015. This bike was part of the famous Floyd Clymer collection.
$69,575 – 1948/1970 Egli-Vincent
Bonhams Lot 177 is an Egli-Vincent built in 1970 around a Rapide motor which had been rebuilt to Lightning Spec.
$66,700 – 1970 Harley-Davidson XRTT 750cc
Bonhams Lot 51 is one of the rare iron-barrel XRTTs used until the all-alloy engine was ready. The XRTT road racer was the last American motorcycle to be competitive in outright top tier road racing. It handled well, but was notoriously unreliable, and the iron barrel version ran so hot that it was nicknamed "the Waffle Iron."
$71,500 – 1940 Indian Four
Mecum Lot S92.1 is a 1940 model Indian Four, one of the most beautiful and voluptuous road bikes in history, which was only styled that way for three short production years. The Indian Four came into being when Indian bought the assets of the Ace Motor Corporation in 1927 and continued until 1942 when production was ceased due to the war effort, never to be restarted.
$68,750 – 1911 Thor Single
Owned by just two families since new, this 105 year old machine not only runs, but runs well. It is one of the stars of the JT Stewart Collection Collection which Mecum sold in Vegas. A bargain at this price.
$66,000 – 1928 Indian Hillclimber
Mecum Lot F143 (link to official auction page)
$66,000 – 1976 Yamaha OW72 Eddie Lawson Racer
Mecum Lot S99 (link to official auction page)
$58,650 – 1941 Indian Four
Bonhams Lot 227 (link to official auction page)
$57,500 – 1939 Harley-Davidson EL PAUGHCO 61CI KnuckleHead
Bonhams Lot 128 (link to official auction page)
$57,500 – 1950 Vincent Series-C Black Shadow "Barn find"
Bonhams Lot 183 (link to official auction page)
$62,700 – 1938 Indian Four
Mecum Lot F176 (link to official auction page)
$56,350 – 1975 Ducati 864cc 900SS
Bonhams Lot 136 (link to official auction page)
$55,200 – 1949 Vincent Series B Rapide
Bonhams Lot 207 (link to official auction page)
$60,500 – 1931 BMW R16
Mecum Lot S128 (link to official auction page)
$60,500 – 1941 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead
Mecum Lot T71 (link to official auction page)
$60,500 – 1928 Henderson Deluxe Four
Mecum Lot T72 (link to official auction page)
$60,500 – 1935 Indian Chief
Mecum Lot F14 (link to official auction page)
$57,750 – 1974 MV Agusta 750
The third MV Agusta 750 (Mecum Lot S184) in Las Vegas is an example of what happens when you deviate from standard specification. The 912cc engine of this bike is the work of master MV Agusta builder Albert Bold, and has handmade billet cylinders, a Magni style head with larger stainless valves, aluminum bronze seats, and larger intake ports, an upgraded set of Magni 30mm Dellorto carburetors and the highest engine# in the MV Registry (#221-0395). It is most certainly one of the last, if not the last America from MV. Despite the heritage, it went for half price.
$57,200 – 1906 Armac Single
Mecum Lot F98 (link to official auction page)
$57,200 – 1940 Indian Four
Mecum Lot S105 (link to official auction page)
$55,000 – 1940 AJS Model 2A
Mecum Lot S146 (link to official auction page)
$55,000 – 1910 Harley-Davidson Belt Drive Single
Mecum Lot S66 (link to official auction page)
$55,000 – 1907 Indian Tri-Car Sedan Chair
Mecum Lot S125 (link to official auction page)
$53,900 – 1929 Harley-Davidson JD
Mecum Lot S141 (link to official auction page)
$48,300 – 2008 Ducati Desmosedici
Bonhams Lot 124 (link to official auction page)
$52,800 – 1927 BMW R42
Mecum Lot F168 (link to official auction page)
$52,800 – 1912 Indian Board Track Racer
Mecum Lot F127 (link to official auction page)
$52,250 – 1917 Indian Daytona Board Tracker
Mecum Lot F70 (link to official auction page)
$51,700 – 1929 Harley-Davidson JD Sidecar
Mecum Lot F182 (link to official auction page)
$46,000 – 1921 Clyno 925cc V-Twin with sidecar
Bonhams Lot 159 (link to official auction page)
$46,000 – 1953/74 Egli-Vincent Black Shadow
Bonhams Lot 224 (link to official auction page)
$46,000 – 1959 Norton Manx 500cc
Bonhams Lot 37 (link to official auction page)
$50,600 – 1908 Thor Single
Mecum Lot S114 (link to official auction page)
$49,500 – 1906 Indian Camel Back
Mecum Lot S71.1 (link to official auction page)
$49,500 – 1970 Norton 750 Commando
Mecum Lot F103 (link to official auction page)
$44,850 – 1924 Henderson De Luxe
Bonhams Lot 110 (link to official auction page)
$48,400 – 1909 Apache Single
Mecum Lot F109 (link to official auction page)
$47,300 – 1975 Ducati 750 Sport
Mecum Lot S102 (link to official auction page)
$47,300 – 1910 Erie Single Belt Drive
Mecum Lot S67 (link to official auction page)
$47,300 – 1968 Vincent Egli
Mecum Lot S119 (link to official auction page)
$42,550 – 1921 Indian PowerPlus
Bonhams Lot 157 (link to official auction page)
$45,100 – 1929 BMW R62
Mecum Lot S129 (link to official auction page)
$45,100 – 1942 Harley-Davidson XA Type 1 Military
Mecum Lot S68 (link to official auction page)
$45,100 – 1914 Jefferson Board Track Racer
Mecum Lot S196 (link to official auction page)
$44,000 – 1942 Harley-Davidson Flathead
Mecum Lot F99 (link to official auction page)
$44,000 – 1949 Vincent Rapide
Mecum Lot F120 (link to official auction page)
$39,100 – 1940 Harley-Davidson UA
Bonhams Lot 65 (link to official auction page)
$39,100 – 1953 Triumph T100C
Bonhams Lot 116 (link to official auction page)
$40,700 – 1946 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead
Mecum Lot T106 (link to official auction page)
$40,700 – 1914 Indian Board Track Racer Replica
Mecum Lot F114 (link to official auction page)
$40,700 – 1922 Indian Power Plus
Mecum Lot S92 (link to official auction page)
$39,600 – 1911 Harley-Davidson Single
Mecum Lot F149 (link to official auction page)
$38,500 – 1909 Excelsior Single
Mecum Lot F101 (link to official auction page)
Plus some interesting bikes ...
$38,500 – 1913 Thor Single
Mecum Lot F161 (link to official auction page)
$34,500 – 1977 Ducati 900SS
Bonhams Lot 131 (link to official auction page)
$37,400 – 2006 Harley-Davidson Lawwill Street Tracker
Mecum Lot F232 (link to official auction page)
$37,400 – 2014 Indian Classic Crystallized
Mecum Lot S80 (link to official auction page)
$36,300 – 1941 Indian Military 841 Shaft Drive
Mecum Lot S70.1 (link to official auction page)
$32,200 – 1923 Reading Standard 72ci Twin
Bonhams Lot 165 (link to official auction page)
$31,050 – 1953 Indian Chief
Bonhams Lot 58 (link to official auction page)
$33,000 – 2014 Harley-Davidson FLHX
Mecum Lot T61 (link to official auction page)
$33,000 – 1911 Indian Twin
Mecum Lot F175 (link to official auction page)
$33,000 – 1953 Vincent Black Lightning Replica
Mecum Lot T93 (link to official auction page)
$29,900 – 1972 Ducati 750GT
Bonhams Lot 48 (link to official auction page)
$31,900 – 1915 Indian Twin Cannonball Racer
Mecum Lot F113 (link to official auction page)
$28,750 – 2002 Ducati 998R
Bonhams Lot 132 (link to official auction page)
$30,800 – 1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville
Mecum Lot F152 (link to official auction page)
$27,600 – 1996 Ducati 916SP (with 955cc engine)
Bonhams Lot 125 (link to official auction page)
$30,250 – 1964 BSA Lightning Rocket Cutaway Display
Mecum Lot S176 (link to official auction page)
$29,700 – 1946 Indian Model 346 Chief
Mecum Lot F159 (link to official auction page)
$29,700 – 1927 Rudge 4 Valve
Mecum Lot S172 (link to official auction page)
$26,450 – 1959 Ducati 175cc "Dustbin" Special
Bonhams Lot 49 (link to official auction page)
$26,450 – 1955 Honda 219cc Dream 4E Twin Port
Bonhams Lot 84 (link to official auction page)
$28,600 – 1957 Ariel Square Four
Mecum Lot F117 (link to official auction page)
$28,600 – 1958 BSA Gold Star
Mecum Lot F155 (link to official auction page)
$28,600 – 1942 Harley-Davidson XA Military
Mecum Lot S154 (link to official auction page)
$28,050 – 1966 Velocette Thruxton
Mecum Lot S169 (link to official auction page)
$25,300 – 1998 Moto Guzzi Magni 992cc
Bonhams Lot 134 (link to official auction page)
$27,500 – 1912 Campion V-Twin
Mecum Lot S187 (link to official auction page)
$23,100 – 1949 AJS 7R
Mecum Lot F194 (link to official auction page)
$22,550 – 1973 Triumph X75 Hurricane
Mecum Lot F192 (link to official auction page)
$22,550 – 1961 BMW R69S
Mecum lot F248 (link to official auction page)
$20,700 – 1999 Confederate HellCat
Bonhams – Lot 233 (link to official auction page)