Saturday, December 31, 2011


SHOWDOWN in Las Vegas (Jan 12-15): 
Alain de Cadenet and Malcolm Barber sold a Velocette Thruxton at the Bonhams Las Vegas auction in 2011
Three major auction companies are duking it out for top spot on the global auction calendar - Bonhams, MidAmerica, and Auctions America (RM).  While MidAmerica has hosted a 3-day auction for many years (the world's largest vintage motorcycle auction already with 500 machines annually), in 2011 Bonhams joined the fun, and slipped 150 bikes into a Thursday daytime slot, giving attendees a chance to head to MidAmerica's Thursday evening dinner auction.  Awfully polite, really, and they brought some amazing machines to the party.  By contrast, RM (owner of Auctions America) descends on Sin City in 2012 like the Mother Ship, squatting directly over MidAmerica's time slot, in a gloves-off bid for a KO. RM has moved aggressively this year to establish themselves in the motorcycle auction world, including bikes in many of their glossy 'car' sales abroad. By contrast, Bonhams has built their motorcycle division in the US slowly, hoping to expand on their auction hegemony in England [note; Bonhams is the principal sponsor of the Vintagent].
You never know what will turn up in Las Vegas; this genuine 1950 Vincent Black Lightning is one example, which I later rode at the Grossglockner Hillclimb!
This confluence of the 'Big 3' of global motorcycle auctions makes Las Vegas 2012 an incomparable vintage motorcycle showplace...there is simply nothing like this event anywhere else.  If you like vintage bikes, you'd have a hard time finding this many on display in any museum or show... and they're all for sale.  Questions remain whether enough buyers will support such a mega-sale of old motorcycles, or whether an excess of machinery will leave all 3 houses limping home Jan 16th.  Certainly, Mecum Auctions learned a bitter lesson at Pebble Beach in 2011, when their massive sale of bought-in motorcycles lost them something like $700k, by my calculations... I doubt we'll see them play with motorcycles anytime soon. Will the same fate befall RM? Bonhams? MidAmerica?  One thing is certain; the Las Vegas auctions will be anything but dull.  Be there!

BMW Goes Moto-Public at Villa d'Este (May 25-27):
The Villa d'Este is a gem beside the already picturesque Lake Como in Italy, and their Concorso di Eleganza is considered the most exclusive automotive event on the planet.  No, you can't go, unless your car is on display (or you're a lucky journalist; see my story of 2011 here), but event sponsor BMW made a bold move with a parallel motorcycle Concorso at the open-to-the-public Villa Erba, and hit a home run with their fantastic display of machines.  They didn't advertise this event, in a bid for a quiet entry into the pantheon of great motorcycle shows, but the setting, organization, display, and motorcycles were peerless, and an excellent excuse to visit the most beautiful spot in Italy.
For 2012, BMW is spreading the word, the Concorso di Motociclette is back, and you're invited.  Visit their website for more details.

Year 4 at the Quail Motorcycle Gathering (May 5, 2012), and a special offer:

The Quail, already well established during Pebble Beach Week as the most exclusive and enjoyable automotive show of all, is slowly building momentum with their Quail Motorcycle Gathering, bringing a more diverse audience from further afield, better bikes on the grass, and a bigger Quail Ride on the Friday preceding the show.  Its a great excuse to come to California and enjoy the spectacular riding roads, weather, food, and a selection of great bikes.
They're offering discounted tickets (and free entry for under-15s) through Jan. 15th, on their website.


ElSolitarioMC said...

HappyNewYear Chief!!!

Brett said...

Love the photo of the Vincent (A homage to Rollie Free, I assume). Who I believe has never been given his due as the father of that modern phenomen of "Planking".