Tuesday, April 29, 2014


[Update: after speaking with the new owner of this machine, I've 'de-listed' it from my 'Top 20' Most Expensive Motorcycles, as he admitted buying the Winchester "after the auction, so I could save on the fees," which means this is an unconfirmed private sale...or just another rumor, in other words.  And once again, wading through so much bullshit around money just makes my shoes dirty...]
The 1910 Winchester, formerly on display at the Cody Firearms Museum sold for $580,000
According to The Star (of DeKalb County, Indiana), the world's most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction passed discreetly under our noses on September 9th, 2013, at the second annual Auburn sale of new auction company Worldwide Auctioneers. A 1910 Winchester sold for $580,000, with a second machine from 1909 'failing to sell' with a bid of $520,000.  I've spoken with the former owner of the 1910 Winchester, who consigned the bike with Worldwide, who confirmed he'd sold his 1910 machine for $580,000 last September, and is still interested in selling his 1909 Winchester, if you're interested, and can meet the new price.
A rare Winchester enameled metal sign from 1909
Winchester is a legendary name in American guns, and for a very short while (1909-11) assembled motorcycles under its badge, using single-cylinder Marsh-Metz engines.  The Winchester was clutchless with a flat belt direct-drive, and a total-loss battery ignition; motorcycling at its most basic, yet still selling for a very expensive $160.  Apparently around 200 Winchesters were produced under contract by the Edwin F Merry company in San Francisco, which is still in business as a bicycle wholesaler; the Merry company sold motorcycle and automobile parts and accessories, according to their company history.
The Edwin.F.Merry company in the 1920s - founder Edwin is on the far right
This now UNconfirmed sale would put the $580,000 1910 Winchester at the #1 position of my 'Top 20' most expensive motorcycles list, displacing the hybrid 1915 Cyclone which sold for $520,000 back in 2008.  I was present (and emceeing) that MidAmerica auction, but the Winchester went completely under my radar, until today.
The 1910 Winchester motorcycle, from the legendary arms factory
Gun collectors are known to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most collectible rifles and shotguns or historic pistols, and an arch-enthusiast of the Winchester gun factory could conceivably have paid the price of a very fancy shotgun to have something a little different in their gun room...


jerrykap said...

I don't get it? Must be related to it's gun heritage? It's not a very innovative machine for it's era and it has no race history or lore. Mike Doyle's single cylinder Sears (Spacke) had more interesting features. I'm guessing some overly rich individuals got into a pissing match!

The Vintagent said...

Hi Jerry, you're correct on all points, although I can't confirm the bidding process was done in the 'men's room'.
I'm still waiting to hear from Worldwide Auctioneers to confirm, but the seller acknowledged he'd sold the bike for $580k, and even gave the name of the buyer (sorry, I'm not going to share that).
So, I'll take it as given, unless events prove otherwise...

GuitarSlinger said...

This being one of those : Its worth this much because somebody with more money than perhaps common sense said with his wallet that it is Worth this much .

Question being . Down the road when this individual decides to sell it [ which according to all statistics will probably be sooner than later ] Will anyone else with too much money and far too little common sense thinks its worth this much as well ?

Personally ? Having a direct connection to the Gun Collector market [ family member ] I kind of doubt it . But stranger things [ at auctions ] have happened ... so .......

Anonymous said...

is that other bike rarer than winchester , that make most expensive ?
example harley racing era , or the duce mike hailwood ?