Friday, July 11, 2008


videoMidAmerica Auctions, who organize the infamous Las Vegas motorcycle event in January, is part of The Meet, a confluence of several events over one week here in Monterey, CA, including the MotoConcorso (Italian motorcycle concours, on Saturday), the MotoGiro America (beginning Sunday), the MidAmerica auction (Saturday), and the MotoGP (next weekend). This is the inaugural year for all of these events (barring the MotoGP), and everyone present is excited and curious what will be the response.

The preview for the auction was tonight (Friday July 11), and the star of the show is this Cyclone, which I described in a previous post. This is an extremely rare opportunity for someone to own one of the most historic of all American machines, and Ron Christensen of MidAmerica is confident it will exceed the reserve (rumored to be around $.5million). If the Cyclone sells, the auction house will have made quite a coup, as this will be the highest price for a motorcycle ever raised at an auction. There's a bit of a buzz among the cognoscenti here, and a little tension - 'will it sell?'. Apparently several bidders have surfaced for the machine already, intent on taking the bike home... but it really comes down to the hammer.
Note the engine detail photos of the Cyclone - it's not often one gets this close to such a machine, and it was a pleasure to crawl around it and note the construction details. First pic shows the bevel drive to the cams and magneto (one of my favorite touches, almost like a Jules Verne contraption). The second photo shows the 'back' of the cambox, and the unusual stirrup arrangement which compresses the valves. It was thought that this setup would reduce lateral forces on the valve, making for longer guide life and better gas sealing. It added considerable weight to the valve train, though, but this motor, while crazily high-tech for the day, was in a fairly low state of tune (5:1 compression, small valves, etc).

Keeping with the American dirt track theme for a moment, as mentioned previously there is a very rare Pope ohv twin racer, and two 8-valve Indians for sale (both with many repro parts), as well as a hill-climber ohv Harley with chains on the rear wheel.

One of the Indian 8-Valves was built by Chris Cutler of Oregon, and looks a treat, although all that gleaming nickel made for a difficult photo! Chris has a great attitude, and fairly recently quit the job he had held since high school to devote full-time to motorcycle restoration.

Jeff Decker sent one of his Rollie Free sculptures, sitting nicely on a sandstone plinth complete with oiled black line, just like the Salt Flats. It's appropriately flanked by two Vincents - a Shadow and a Comet.

Fred Lange has 3 bikes lined up; the Harley hillclimber, an 8-valve Indian, and a 1907 Harley single, with leather belt drive. Reggie from our local Yerba Buena AMCA chapter is happy to pose beside the bike, even though he's a dyed-in-the-wool Indian man. It's a very nice restoration; Fred does truly exceptional work, and most of the 8-valve Indians you see have cylinder heads from his workshop!

It's not all American iron, though, as you can see by this very nice '74 Ducati 750SS. The bike seems to be original, and certainly looks tempting, although they have been fetching near 6 figures of late. Allesandro Altinier is seen here, visiting from Italy, perhaps to take a bike home? Not this Ducati, he says, but the NCR racer in the background, a sister bike to one he raced in the 1980's. Allesandro does his own restorations, and if his name is attached to a rare Italian machine, it's a good bet that the bike is a perfect restoration, and it's the real deal. I've seen several of his Moto Guzzis (Dondolino, C4V, C2V), and they have all been remarkable machines.

And not to forget our British friends, this '54 Triumph T100C was brought by Jim Hiddleston, and Englishman living in Holland, and is bristling with small details unique to this one-year-only model. He spent quite a bit of time finding the right 'handed' carbs, float bowl, brackets, etc, and the effort shows, as this is a very desirable machine. I've always considered the early all-alloy fine-pitch Tiger 100's to be the prettiest of all Triumphs.

Last for tonight; a matched pair of Minarellis, should you with to start a 50cc vintage racing team.
The tiny twin-leading-shoe Fontana brakes are worth the price of admission.

More tomorrow!

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