Friday, August 07, 2009


In case you haven't heard, this year marks the first time Ever that motorcycles will be judged on the grass at the uber-prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. There hasn't been a whole lot of press around this momentous sea-change on the 18th hole turf, and in some ways it seems a bit of a back-door 'in' for Us (and there's little mention of bikes in their online or publicity materials), but a crack in the mighty facade of Cars and Money has appeared, and 8 motorcycles have slipped through the wall.

Ed Gilbertson, chief judge at Pebble (also at the much-lamented Legend of the Motorcycle Concours), selected the bikes around a chosen theme of pre-1960 British. Which affords a massive spectrum of historic machinery, and the chosen represent a well-trod path of Exemplary marques. Brough Superior, Vincent (Gunga Din!), Norton Manx, AJS Porcupine, etc. There's a real oddball thrown in for historic interest/breadth; Pete Young's 1914 Premier!

And I'm sure Pete is feeling, after winning a prize at the Legends with this machine, and being among the Select at Pebble, like his $8000 purchase was Money Well Spent!!! Considering the relative value of the other motorcycles (well, the Manx is cheap compared to an SS100, or Gunga), the Premier is an interloper, a pauper at the King's table. I love it. Then again, even a J.A.P.-engined SS100 is small fry compared to the financial Colossi usually found on the fairway - one-off Bugattis and Hispano-Suizas, unique championship racing machinery, Cars of the Stars, etc.

To bolster this toe-in-the-water into motorcycling, MidAmerica Auctions will have a tent set up directly at the entrance to the venue, and will be conducting (also for the first time) a silent, online/live auction. No cattle auctioneers, no Vintagent discussing the relative merits of 500 bikes in sequence (we'll save that for Vegas in January '10), but all the motorcycles will be under the big tent, available for scrutiny for 4 days, before the close of the auction on Sunday August 16th. I do believe each motorcyle will have a 'buy-it-now' price which will stop the auction, in case one of the Car people is outbid at the multi-million-dollar Gooding auction, and needs a consolation prize. That's the hope anyway! I'll be there to talk about the motorcycles with anyone interested, and Ron Christensen has lined up an interesting array of machines - check the link above, you don't have to be there to buy bikes. And if you have detail questions about a machine, just call, the phone will probably be handed to me!

The best part? Brough-Superior will début TWO of their new machines, and have an impressive display within the MidAmerica tent. More on this shortly!


Anonymous said...

Paul, Very exciting news about motorcycles at Pebble. I do hope they are well received. If you get a chance to view the cars, there is a very special Bentley there brought by friends of mine from Virginia. Phil and Sue Brooks have a 1937 4 1/4 Bentley with a VandenPlas roadster body. I helped them put it all back together last year and wish I could be with them. Stop by and say Hi, and tell them Cortes is wishing them well.

Will there be more coverage of the Velo rally. I am trying to buy a Velo here on the East Coast and having a tough time finding a suitable bike. Sounds like there might not be any running at the finish! Please, no more broken bones, but I do hope you can finish the story.

Cortes P
Richmond, Virginia

YJH said...

PdO, these are enormous news_thank you for bringing them to us and congratulations to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance organizers_next, should be the Vuitton_that is closer from home but we'll make it to Pebble 2010 by all means_so exciting_thanks again and cheers from the Paris Gentlemen Bikers

Anonymous said...

i,m buggered if i can find any bikes at your links , the kind of guy that chucks a toilet brush into collector cars as i zoom by on a $300 beater

larrykahndogman said...

Too bad we won't be able to ride motorcycles to see the event since they are not allowed on the main road into the resort. Personally, screw the whole event for that reason alone. Too much snobbery for the purity of motorcycles recently anyway.

John Duss said...

Paul, Great news about Pebble Beach, but at Amelia Island (the world's most innovative concours)we've had motorcycles for fifteen years. The class has featured among others, IOM bikes, Art Deco, American Fours,Sidecars, Board Trackers, Bikes of J. Surtees, and Daytona 200 bikes of the beach. This year we're featuring the iconic Triumph parallel twin.No snobbery here,our bikes are used to Delages and Rolls. Also we'll have the "Three Kings" : S. Moss(king of the road), D. Garlits(king of the quarter) and R. Petty(king of the oval). Boy is it fun!

Anonymous said...

Nice piece Paul. See you there. I'm letting Mid america handle the possible sale of my P11. Hoping to get a little whale watching in as well.

C-ya, Jer

YJH said...

ah Mr Jer_your beautiful P11 would have been perfect in my Paris garage_once I told PdO we should pull SF closer to the continent_good luck and congratulations

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul. One typo there. I wish that the Premier had only cost $8k. It was about double that number. Still a bargain compared to the one that Yesterday's has for sale at $28k for the last year or two.

PS, it's a '13 model, not '14, but no big deal. Both years are good enough for the Sunbeam club at Brighton.

Elizabeth said...

Go Pete! kick some Concours d' Ass!

Anonymous said...



veteran rider said...

Elizabeth, I did what I could... The bike ran great on the 70 mile tour; only 3 bikes (of 15 in the bike class) went on the tour with the cars. The trophies went to the very very shiny bikes, but only mine started up first kick for the judges! ;) grins all around.


Anonymous said...

For my two cents -

Pete & Kim Young looked great (period kit) and their bike was a compliment to the show. They are true enthusiasts and have a good time wherever they are. If anyone needs any proof, just try riding a 1913 motor bicycle for 70 miles of curves and hills!

The Brough display classed up an otherwise mundane bike auction tent. The stands, use of enlarged archive photos and the bikes themselves were beautiful and well done in every respect. Kudos to Vintagent for making it happen at Mid America and, of course, kudos to Upham and Bossier for making Brough happen at all.

While I am stunned the SS100 and the "bathing suit" Black Lightning did not receive any placement in the awards at Pebble (especially considering the importance of the latter having participated in the 70 mile run), I know the two judges - Danmeier and Thomas - are extremely reputable guys and theirs was a very difficult job in a class that was far too broad. Nonetheless, those bikes that did win were worthy and should be applauded.

Paul, thank you for your reporting. Unlike most entertainment, I learn while I have fun.