Friday, May 08, 2009


It's a long story, but due to scheduling conflicts, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering will be covered here in The Vintagent by legendary motorcycle writer John Joss (who worked under Harry Louis at The Motorcycle... way back when) and legendary Vincent know-it-all Somer Hooker has promised to send photos as well.

An affiliate of Midamerica Auctions has been floating the idea of a motorcycle television show to the networks, and the stars aligned for us to shoot a pilot for this possible series at the St. Paul auction this Saturday, May 9th. Thus, I'm fortunate to visit the Minnesota State Fairgrounds!

The actual auction building is a beauty, built in 1909, and of a type we don't see on the West Coast, as brick and earthquakes don't mix well.

The clerestory windows provide great light and the cast iron trellis and post work make for a clear and delicate interior space. I've heard the acoustics are terrible during the auction itself, and I can only imagine an amplified cattle auctioneer going full tilt with an echo accompaniment.

A lot of the usual bike which people need were showing up by the truckload yesterday, lined up willy-nilly in the cavernous space, but I am here to see two machines; the 1909 Curtiss v-twin, and a Vincent dragster in original as-raced condition.

But there's Always something to see at the MidAmerica tent... this wonderful mockup is the work of a famous rocket power enthusiast, Ky Michaelson, and despite its fearsome projectile appearance, the bike is powered by a humble old sidevalve motor, with a Triumph slickshift gearbox. More on Ky's creations later...

But here's another shot of the machine showing the mechanicals, plus Mick Way, who is producing the TV pilot; that's his incredibly cute son Dane, ready to go rocketing away any time now.

More auction bikes; for better or worse, you just don't see many BSA A65 choppers anymore... this one is strictly Vintage, and I've had a couple of these myself over the years, although I was quick to dismantle them! Nowadays they are chic...

Unless you prefer your custom with small wheels. A selection of Cushmen in various lurid Easteregg shades... I especially like the stand-up models, like a powered push-scooter.

The humble offices of MidAmerica Auctions; home of the largest vintage motorcycle auction in the world, and current record-holder for highest price paid for a motorcycle at auction... truly a mom-and-pop business run by Ron Christensen and Sandy Doll, and a very few employees. Ron and Sandy work looong hours to make all this happen, and they are branching out to new venues this year. Newest; a tent to sell motorcycles at the Pebble Beach Concours in August! Yep, you read it here first - all those well-heeled car guys can now walk into a tent on the green and buy a Triumph for pocket change. More details to follow - this is a monumental achievement for such a small company, as Pebble is just branching into motorcycles this year (only 8 bikes on the judging green, all British, and again, more later on this).

Another Ky Michaelson creation; the Jet Pack! And it works, although I wasn't going to risk my neck at that moment to try it... perhaps after the cameras are put away...

And this is the bike of the hour; the Curtiss. Enjoy the photos...


chessie said...

Thank you...this is a lucky find for me! What a great blog site! I'm marking you for come back visits to see where you will take me next in the vintage world of motorcycles!

jacques b said...

yes this is like a treasure finding worth more than anything to the finder