1894 Motorrad and Pétrolette
2011 SOLD 161 K$ including premium
The great technological challenge of the 1890s was the manufacture of motor vehicles. Individuals would be able to travel independently, free from both the fixed route of the railway and the constraints of animal traction.
The imagination of the creators was boundless. These machines still experimental did not interest the general publicyet, and are rarely seen in the photographs of the time.
In a previous article, we reminded that the winner of this industrial competition was Benz with his four-wheeled models, Victoria (1893) and Velo. We also met the Voiturette (1896) of Bollée, that three-wheeled model that went out of fashion after some success at its launch.
Following the same trend, a bicycle manufacturer in Munich, Hildebrand and Wolfmüller, patented in 1894 a two-wheeled machine powered by a twin cylinder and four stroke engine.
This Motorrad looks much like a modern motorcycle, but it had one major issue which strongly antagonized its first clients: the starter was very difficult to operate. A model was manufactured under license in France under the name Pétrolette (1895). This word passed quickly in popular parlance for a noisy, smelly and outdated vehicle.
Sometimes a copy arrives on the market after being stored for years in the middle of old tools. On April 25, 2010 in Stafford, Bonhams sold £ 86K including premium a Hildebrand and Wolfmüller motorcycle in its original and unrestored condition.
Another copy won in the 1980s the interest of a collector who restored it without trying to make it operational. This piece is now estimated $ 130K, for sale by Bonhams in Las Vegas on January 6.
POST SALE COMMENT
The old bike has bravely met the expectation: $ 140K before fees, 161K including premium.
1894 STEAM ON TWO WHEELS
When the locomotive went to be usual, efforts of inventors applied to lighter motor vehicles. The first trials got some difficulties for being conclusive, but the work of these pioneers is important. That is indeed thanks to them that humans acquired that autonomy of travel which is one of the greatest advances of civilization of the twentieth century.
In the late 1860s, half a century after the invention of the velocipede, two steam machines can each claim the honor of being the first operational motorcycle, but each of the two models was limited to its unique prototype.
In France, Pierre Michaux installed on a pedal bicycle (a novelty at that time) an engine designed by Perreaux. Near Boston, the other pioneer was Sylvester Roper.
In 1894, Roper focuses again on two-wheeled after having experienced more complex vehicles. He fits a boiler and an engine on a Columbia bicycle manufactured by Pope Manufacturing Company.
Roper is very pleased with this machine that reaches 64 km / h and enables him to challenge any cycling champion. In 1896, he dies of a heart attack during one of these demonstration meetings.
The steam motorcycle on which Roper died is for sale on January 14 in Las Vegas by Auctions America, a companyof the RM group.
It is illustrated in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity. Wikipedia retrieved a drawing published in 1896 by the Boston Daily Globe showing "Roper and his fatal invention."
I draw the attention of fans on the fact that this lot is sold "on a bill of sale only," a formula which means that the vehicle does not comply with safety rules for travel in the United States of America.
1896 THE ROARING TRIKE
2009 SOLD 65 K€ BEFORE FEES
Amédée Bollée Sr, an industrialist installed at Le Mans, was a pioneer of the steam car.
In 1896, his two sons developed a vehicle that included many innovations. Designed by Léon, it is a tricycle with two seats positioned in tandem on a tubular chassis, and with rubber tires equipping the wheels. It is powered by a single cylinder oil engine developed by Amédée Jr.
Léon Bollée deposed the Voiturette name for this vehicle. At first it met its promises. Competing against gas engine cars, the Voiturette won many competitions, which were beginning at that time to be organized on road for leading these amazing machines from one city to another.
The four-wheel design which was promoted by Benz (with Victoria and Velo models) was better suited to the needs of travelers, and Leon Bollée in 1903 joined the ranks of classical automakers.
In my article on Benz a few months ago, I reported the good result, 120 K € excl obtained by Osenat in Fontainebleau on June 21 on a Benz Velo of 1897. Tomorrow December 13, the same auction house presents the serial number 27 of the Voiturette Léon Bollee, estimated 50 K€.
POST SALE COMMENT
Finishing the year with a success: this strange vehicle was sold at 65 K € before fees.
1914-1915 The Last Feilbach
2017 SOLD for $ 195K including premium
Arthur Feilbach was twenty years old when he built his first motorcycle in 1904 in Milwaukee with the help of his younger brother William. He then started a production of a few units per year that interested the local users. Encouraged by these early achievements, Arthur founded in 1907 the Feilbach Motor Co.
1913 is a promising year. The young brand participates in the specialized professional exhibitions of Milwaukee and Chicago with a new model equipped with a V-twin engine. The company installs a spacious and modern factory and begins production in larger series. The high end is named Feilbach Limited to evoke the special care taken in its manufacturing.
Feilbach relies on his skills as engineer to offer a 'lighter, stronger and faster motorcycle', in the wording of the brand's advertisements at that time. Unfortunately the replacement of the chain drive by a two-speed camshaft has to be abandoned due to teething problems. Disconcerted by this technical issue and perhaps also discouraged by the competition from Harley-Davidson, the Feilbach brothers close the factory before the end of 1914.
After this closure and before the definitive termination of activity which will take place without a successor in 1916, Arthur Feilbach uses available parts to assemble in 1915 a last Feilbach Limited for his personal use. This unique motorcycle remained for seven decades in the family of the brand's founder. It is estimated $ 150K for sale by Bonhams in Las Vegas on January 26, lot 250.
1925 Grand Sport by Brough
2019 SOLD for $ 360K including premium
This new prototype becomes the first unit of the most prestigious model of the brand, the Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport (AGS). It has been discussed previously in this column (unsold at Phillips de Pury in December 2010).
Commercial production is announced in September 1925. Compared to the basic SS100, its center of gravity is lowered and the tank volume is increased. The engine is a JAP Special designed at the request of George Brough.
The eighth AGS is purchased by T.E. Lawrence better known as Lawrence of Arabia. This is his fifth Brough. The thirteenth AGS, delivered to its first customer in November 1925, is estimated $ 350K for sale by Mecum in Las Vegas on January 25, lot F123. The twentieth, delivered to an agent in January 1926, was sold for £ 280K including premium by RM Auctions on October 31, 2012.
Another bike from the MC Collection makes its way into the top 10!— Mecum Auctions (@mecum) January 25, 2019
This 1925 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport sold for a hammer price of $325,000.
Check out all the details right here: https://t.co/LvyiBFyEuT#MecumMotorcycles #MecumVegas #Mecum #MecumAuctions pic.twitter.com/8pHnUzLQPO
1925 THE ART OF GEORGE BROUGH
We are familiar in this group with George Brough motorcycles which I have already discussed twice. There was no better bike in England between the wars.
Passionate user and meticulous industrialist, Brough designed a commercial motorcycle, the SS (meaning Super Sports), able to approach the speed records of his time. And wealthy amateurs could buy as early as 1923 the Brough Superior SS80, guaranteed to maintain a speed of 80 mph on a quarter mile.
The model SS100, gem of the brand, which was guaranteed for 100 mph, was developed in 1924.
In 1925 Brough had made a prototype, SS100AGS, which was during one year his favorite machine. AGS means Alpine Grand Sport. Designed to be used in an eight day race in Austria, this bike had a few improvements that allowed it to address endurance, hill climbing and speed.
This extraordinary model was probably not marketed. Phillips de Pury, whose boldness did not surprise us, features this prototype in a sale of design on December 15 in New York, and considers the fabulous price (in its category) of $ 600K, lot 20.
But why not, after all. Art, when it is defined as the worldview expressed by creative minds, should know no limits. The SS100AGS is beautiful. It is illustrated in the catalog shared by the online auction site LiveAuctioneers. George Brough was a great designer, so he was an artist in his own right.
1930 an alpine and its cruiser
The most prestigious variants are the Alpine Grand Sports with a reduced compression ratio suitable for hill climbs, and the use of a JAP engine from JA Prestwich. A bike made in 1929 with all these features was sold for £ 315K including premium by Bonhams on November 30, 2014.
Another SS100 AGS with JAP engine made in 1930 is for sale onApril 19 by H and H in the Imperial War Museum at Duxford near Cambridge. After two factory visits for improvements in 1931 and 1933, this bike has never been restored.
Made to order, this unit included options from the outset. It retains its 1930 Cruiser model sidecar. This configuration is extremely rare for the much sporting SS100 as the sidecar was essentially proposed with the SS80 road model. In 1933 its 3-speed standard gearbox has been replaced by a 4-speed box.
Motorcycle collectors are looking for authenticity but in the opposite to car lovers they enjoy an intense use. The SS100 AGS is sold by a former president of the Brough Club who acquired it in 1990 and piloted it in rallies throughout Europe. It is difficult to find better. It is estimated £ 280K, lot 42.
I invite you to watch the video shared by the auction house showing its operating condition (without anybody in the sidecar!).
1934 Brough Superior SS100, the Superbike
2012 SOLD 240 K£ including premium
On April 27, 2008, Bonhams sold £ 166K including premium a motorcycle from a legendary model: a Brough Superior SS100. This specimen comes back in the same auction house, on April 29 in Stafford, with an estimate of £ 150K. Here is the link to the catalog.
I discussed this lot in 2008 as follows :
The Brough being advertised is a true museum piece, having spent nearly half its life in the Murray Motorcycle Museum in the Isle of Man, before resuming his freedom in 2005 to be restored by a fan.
George Brough, the owner of the brand, was a perfectionist who achieved success, and the SS100 was his high end model. Each machine was first mounted to verify that the components were compatible with each other, and then completely disassembled for painting or plating and definitely assembled.
The boss was keen to demonstrate by himself that each new machine reached a speed of 100 mph, hence the name of that model compared to the Brough Superior SS80 which was only guaranteed to 80 mph.
SS80 and SS100 have been produced from 1922 to 1940. The bike to be sold by Bonhams is equipped with an English motor JAP (JA Prestwich Industries), which is another reason to please the connoisseurs. About 280 SS100 with JAP motor were manufactured from 1924 to 1936.
George Brough met his challenge that customers would accept to pay the highest price for perfect machines. The corollary of this policy, usual at that time and industrially impossible today, was that each machine was somehow unique.
In the year of this piece, 1934, only 6 SS100 with JAP motor were built. They carry the nickname "Two of Everything" because several major pieces of equipment were doubled or redunded.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good progress for this bike, sold £ 240K including premium.
1936 New Engines for Brough
2020 SOLD for £ 276K including premium
Brough had been using JAP engines since 1922. Due to production difficulties, he changes his supplier in 1935 for the SS80 and in 1936 for the SS100. He chooses his competitor Matchless, who had bought AJS in 1931, will buy Sunbeam in 1937 and will become AMC in 1938.
On December 11 in Bicester, Bonhams sells an SS100 assembled in 1936, lot 232 estimated £ 240K. This machine has kept its matching engine and frame. The 982 cc engine was the very first "AMC" production engine received by Brough for the SS100. It had been preceded by a single prototype. Please watch the video shared by Bonhams.
Brough remained at the top of the range. The speed record was broken in April 1937 by an SS100 equipped with a supercharged JAP engine, timed at 273 km/h. This record was broken twice before the end of the same year, by Gilera and then by BMW.
1938 The Development of the Vincent Rapide
2016 SOLD for £ 234K before fees
The Vincent Rapide Series A is released in October 1936. This powerful model is equipped with a 998 cc V-twin engine. With its top speed at 180 Km / h, it is faster than the Brough SS100.
Efficiency is more important than aesthetics : the Rapide Series A is nicknamed Plumbers Nightmare due to an exceedingly visible oil piping. Too far ahead of its time, its settings are uneasy and the production is stopped in 1939 after the 78th unit.
A Rapide Series A made in 1938 is estimated £ 200K for sale by H and H at Donington Park on November 15, lot 64. A specialized magazine published in September 1940 shows Phil Vincent aboard this motorcycle. It is the only known photo showing the boss on that model.
This bike had been discovered in 1988. It was not in working condition but had retained its original equipment. It has been carefully restored by an enthusiast of the brand. It is now a highly authentic witness of this short lived Rapide Series A that had the merit of paving the way for the great post war success of the Rapide Series B and C.
Please watch the video shared by H and H.
1938 Power and Speed of Crocker Motorcycles
2016 SOLD for $ 340K including premium
Assisted by Paul Bigsby, Crocker founded in 1936 in Los Angeles a workshop to manufacture roadster bikes with his two-cylinder engine in a 45 degree V. This significant innovation makes the bike heavier but offers power and speed capable to surpass Indian and Harley Davidson.
A legend narrates that Crocker promised a money back guarantee if one of his motorcycles was overcome by another American bike. History does not seem to confirm. It would have been somehow a bluff as technologies change quickly and Crocker's V Twin had from its debut a lesser performance than the JAP engine that equipped the Brough in England.
Each Crocker V Twin motorcycle is assembled individually on customer order and two units are necessarily different. A major evolution appears in 1938 with the Big Tank option. When the brand ceases all operations in 1942, fewer than 100 Crocker V Twin motorcycles had been built. The exact figure cannot be known because of inconsistencies in assigning the serial numbers but this bike is undoubtedly of great rarity.
A V Twin with Big Tank made during the last year of the brand was sold for $ 350K before fees by Mecum on March 21, 2015.
A Crocker made in 1938 with V Twin and Small Tank is estimated $ 300K for sale by Mecum in Monterey on August 20, lot S169. It has just been submitted to an extensive mechanical restoration while scrupulously preserving its original look.
1938 Brough Superior SS100
2010 SOLD 158 K£ including premium
On April 25 in Stafford, Bonhams sells a 1938 Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle, estimated £ 110K. It is pictured in the press release shared by AuctionPublicity.
On April 27, 2008, the same auction house sold in the same venue a 1934 Brough Superior SS100 for 166 K £ including premium.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price obtained for the Brough, 158 K £ including premium (142 K £ before fees) is consistent with the result of two years ago.
The sale included an antique: a motorcycle produced by Hildebrand & Wolfmüller around 1894. It was sold 86 K £ including premium (77 K £ before fees). It had been photographed in the press release shared before sale by AuctionPublicity.
1949 Competing with gunga din
Philip Vincent believes that speed records will boost business for his Vincent HRD motorcycle brand. In 1947 he had modified for that purpose a commercial Vincent HRD Series B Rapide. This bike is nicknamed Gunga Din by reference to Kipling's poem which ends with the famous line : "You're better than I am, Gunga Din".
Gunga Din will serve as a development model for several years. The first commercial derivative is the Black Shadow whose prototype is completed in February 1948.
In its original version, Gunga Din reaches 130 mph (210 km/h). That is not enough : this speed has been reached by BMW since 1929 and the German brand held since 1937 the land speed record at 173 mph, followed closely by Gilera and Brough.
In 1948 Vincent prepares a racing version of the Black Shadow for which superfluous equipment is removed at the expense of the road homologation. On September 13 in Bonneville, a modified Black Shadow overcomes the American speed record at 148 mph.
The prototype of the new Vincent HRD Black Lightning model incorporating the Bonneville improvements is exhibited by Vincent at the British International Motor Show which opens at Earls Court on October 27, 1948. The Black Lightning is very expensive and can only interest confirmed champions. Only 5 units are sold during the first half of 1949.
The second bike in this series had been sold to Swiss pilot Hans Stärkle, who had been before the war a works team rider for NSU. He used it in competition, sometimes with a sidecar. The next owners modified it to obtain the road homologation. This Black Lightning has remained accident free despite a frequent use.
Please watch and listen to the video shared by the auction house before the 2018 auction.
1949 the joint venture of vincent hrd and indian
In 1948 Phil Vincent, founder and boss of Vincent HRD, is visiting the United States. He meets Ralph Rogers, President of Indian Motorcycle. Their bikes are very different. The English brand is introducing the Rapide Series C, powerful enough to compete with BMW. Indian's strategy is oriented towards small engines.
The two bosses decide to propose together two product lines, each of them starting with a prototype. Two Indian Chief are shipped to the Vincent factory at Stevenage.
The first hybrid is the Vindian, with a Vincent Rapide engine equipping an Indian Chief. The result is not satisfactory and the prototype is dismantled.
The second project, in 1949, seems more promising. The Indian-Vincent is a Rapide Series C whose most visible components such as the handlebars are extracted from the Indian Chief. US customers shall certainly appreciate this powerful English motorcycle with an American appearance.
All of this is expensive. Before the end of the year, Rogers resigns and Vincent HRD is placed under receivership. The Indian-Vincent project is abandoned. Indian went bankrupt in 1953 and Vincent HRD ceased operations in 1955 due to heavy losses.
The designer of Vincent, Phil Irving, had been the engineer in charge of the two joint projects. The Indian-Vincent prototype was presented to him at the end of 1949 when he returned to his native Australia. In 2001 an Australian collector is stunned by his latest acquisition, an incomplete Vincent accompanied by Indian pieces of equipment. He discovers the history of this unique motorcycle and reconstructs it in its prototype configuration.
The Indian-Vincent is estimated $ 250K, for sale by Bonhams in Las Vegas on January 26, lot 187.
1955 The Black Lightning that struck Vincent
2008 SOLD 200 K£ before fees
On April 27, Bonhams sold in Stafford, England, an exceptional motorcycle, which had been the subject of one of my first articles in French in this group. The Brough Superior SS100 of 1934 had been sold 150 K £ excluding fees.
We remain in the same location, with the same auction house, on October 19, and jump over twenty years to present another exceptional motorcycle, in exceptional condition.
After the Second World War, the craze for speed record started again with frenzy. The British firm Vincent created a model in 1948 that was to become legendary, the Black Lightning, designed only for the record, without city equipment. With the first Vincent Black Lightning, the pilot Rollie Free, lying on the machine, reached 150 mph (miles per hour) i.e. 240 Km/h at Bonneville (Salt Lake) on September 13 1948, speed record on American soil.
31 examples were built until this bad year 1955 when, due to significant financial losses, the Vincent company was forced to cease its activities. It had been founded in 1928. The manufacturer, Phil Vincent, had failed to exceed the world record held by BMW and then by NSU.
The bike for sale on October 19 is the swan song for Vincent, perhaps as a challenge just before the closure of the firm. It is a unique piece, which is still entirely in its original state. It has almost never been used.
The estimate announced in the press release of Bonhams is 400 KUS $. It is surprising that this price is given in that currency when the sale takes place in Stafford, Staffordshire, England.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price obtained, 200 K £ excluding charges, does not reach the low estimate which, in British currency, was £ 220 K.
It is a great result, higher than the SS100 Brough that I used as the reference. A price worth to reward both the prestige of the machine and its superb condition.
1980 THE BIKE OF THE DAREDEVIL
Evel Knievel was the most famous and most incredible daredevil of all time. He jumped with his bike over a stack of cars, or between the two sides of a canyon, or between two skyscrapers.
From 1970 to 1977 he was sponsored by Harley-Davidson, using then their model XR-750. His televised performances earned him a lot of money, with which he bought luxury vehicles, including a Harley-Davidson Shovelhead custom-made for him in 1980 and decorated with a golden eagle. RM Auctions will sell it on 25 and 26 April in Novi, Michigan. The estimate is not yet available on their website.
Evel Knievel was often severely injured, and the end of his life was a nightmare.
POST SALE COMMENT
There was no buyer at $ 28 K. This bike had belonged to a legendary driver, indeed, but after his achievements.
2009 A NEW START FOR AFRICA
2011 SOLD 10.5 K$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
A motorcycle, unsold last year despite the charity goal of the sale, is reintroduced in the same conditions.
I republish this discussion by just changing the characteristics of the sale:
The idea of Riders for Health is generous. It is to promote bikes as the best suited vehicles to bring medicines into the less accessible regions of Africa.
This project includes a charity event at the initiative of Don Emde. On May 14, Bonhams auctions in Carmel CA a unique motorcycle which is the result of a wonderful collaboration of brands and received the prestigious sponsorship of the current super-champion Valentino Rossi.
It is a model YZF-R1 2009 offered by Yamaha USA, with the participation of the best equipment providers for suspension, wheels, tires, brakes. Civilian equivalent of the race model used by Rossi, this machine would have a market value of nearly $ 30K.
The bodywork of the motorcycle has been decorated in bright colors inspired by the helmets of the champion, which became famous in the small world of motorcycle racing. It is illustrated in the press release shared by Auction Central News. $ 50K are expected.
POST SALE COMMENT
Buyers are seldom influenced by the charity aspect of a sale. Introduced this time without reserve price, the bike for Africa was sold for $ 9K before fees, 10.5 K including premium.