Wednesday, October 19, 2011


 Attracting 50,000 or so punters daily, twice a year, Stafford is the big gun of motorcycle autojumble/show/auctions in England.  Run over 3 days, it takes two to cover all the stalls, club stands, vendors, and demonstrations, and then there's the Bonhams auction, which sets the benchmark for motorcycle prices around the world, with always a few super-rare gems to attract press attention.
Malcolm Barber auctions 'Moby Dick' at the Bonhams Stafford sale
This year's star was 'Moby Dick', the 1929 Brough Superior SS100 which was developed into the world's fastest road-going motorcycle in it heyday.  With a solid gold provenance, and absolute documentation of every stage of the machine's life, it was clearly going to sell well, and it did, at £210,000 inclusive, landing it at #6 on my 'Top 20' auction sales.  Two years ago, of course, it may have set a world record, but things have changed.
A Brough Superior '680' basket case with Bentley and Draper frame brought £40k
As obvious examples; at Stafford, good Vincent Rapides sold at around £30k, good Shadows about half that again...which is about half what they were selling for two years ago.  Around 11,000 post-war Vincents came out of Stevenage, which disqualifies them as rare, but makes them the perfect 'bubble' indicator, being an obvious target for beginning collectors, and long-time wannabes with full pockets, gripped with desire as the market hype for Shadows is rising, and despair as prices inevitably crash with bad economic news.  The Vincent market was in exactly this place in 2001... and 1990.
Plenty of bidders at the Stafford sale
While Moby Dick isn't a good 'comparable' for Brough SS100s, being unique, the sale of a good '31 BS SS100 at Stafford last May for £130k indicates the frenzy for investor-bikes seems to have cooled, and the 'car guys' haven't skewed the bike market, as some feared.  Still, an exquisite, original condition JAP-engined SS80, perhaps the most original in the world, sold for £100k last weekend, which may mean la créme de la créme is holding value...and the rumored post-auction sale of the AJS 'Porcupine' for an undisclosed sum (somewhere between $650-$700k I would guess) seems to support this.  Bottom line; World-class motorcycles may be worth a bit less than last year, but will still fetch good money.  And its a great time to buy a 'normal' bike, as prices have dropped significantly since 2008.
Decent weather meant large crowds
Fantastic AJS 'Big Port' with Binks 'Mousetrap' carb...
The Benelli O/C stand
Reliving youth (1)...a BSA B33
BSA 'Daytona' Gold Star project in the autojumble
Another BSA...this one a triple, with A10 timing case, and double-overhead-cam conversion.  See the factory version in my post on the London Motorcycle Museum.
'Norton' George Cohen brought a lot of flat-tanks, plus a new Manx
Douglas 90+ racer...
The 50cc racing club stand
Need an engine?
The Yamaha FS1E 'Fizzy' club stand
New Amal carbs...and an extra-large demonstrator model
Yummy Gitane-Testi café lightweight
An interesting Honda special, using a modern CBR250RR watercooled motor
A trio of Isle of Man TT 'Replica' trophies (for riders within 10% of the winning race time) went for £563
Drool-worthy Bianchi DOHC twin (designed by Guissepe Pattoni, who later developed this design as the Paton) and MV Agusta triple racers
'Norton' George's personal flat-tanker...complete with pipe!
Oozing oil and character in equal amounts
Considering a Norton 650SS in the autojumble...
...and a pair of unusual hybrids too.
Possibly the best ever towing outfit for a Scott; color-coordinated Citroen 2CV
If 'so obviously superior', why the distress call?
The SOS intake and exhaust
Have you come to haggle?
Ivan Rhodes brought a lovely Velocette Mk8 KTT with 'Huntley and Palmer' ex-Works cylinder head
Reliving youth (2); HD Sportster...
Triumph engine, Weslake 8-valve cylinder head, racing oufit
The Fox family Wall of Death


Somer said...

Great auction coverage.There were a tad over 11,134 post war Vincents built (twin and singles).

GuitarSlinger said...

Hmmmn . So if I'm reading you correctly Paul , it sounds like that 'Dream' Vincent I thought would stay out of reach may be falling right into my hands after all

Especially since I'm looking for a good ' Rider ' ( an Egli or Norvin would suit me fine , as well as a mild custom ) and not a Numbers Matching show bike .

Got the word out with my VOC mates , so keep your fingers crossed ( or what ever you do to wish one luck )

Who knows . Maybe even an Orphan motor , dropped off at Chabott or Big Sids for a one off build . We'll see

The Vintagent said...

Yes, this is a good time to look, as mismatched Vins especially are hovering at £25k, or less.
The ugliest of shiny Eglis sold for £26k...while the cool ones failed to sell; vendors haven't caught up with the new reality, and are holding out for last year's prices...

Buzz Kanter said...

What an enchanted life you lead to be able to travel around to so many of the leading vintage motorcycle events in the world.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog, read it for a few years now.
What the hell has happened to your photos ?
Time for a new camera perhaps :-)
Keep up the good work though.