Thursday, April 02, 2015


Star of the show; the 1939 Vincent-HRD Series A Rapide, which was rescued from the junk man! 
The twice-yearly Stafford auction by Bonhams is the European counterpoint to the January Las Vegas sales, providing a barometer of collectible motorcycle market worldwide, as well as the primary source of cool old bikes for those on the hunt.   The April 26th sale promises to raise a few eyebrows along with the prices for a few ultra-desirable machines, most notably the one-of-70odd 1939 Vincent-HRD Series A Rapide.  The pre-war Rapide vies with the Black Lightning as the most coveted of all Vincents, and they have similar production numbers (curiously, about the same as their price-mate Crocker motorcycles...what is it with '70-odd' hot-rods?).   The previous sale of a Series A twin fetched $366,000...I'll be curious if the recent EJ Cole sale will encourage buyers to break previous top sales for this 'king of the road'?
George Cohen Custom style...
Other great machines coming up: one of George Cohen's 'special' Norton customs, this an original 1926 Model 18 racer, done up in a grey-on-grey paint scheme, very similar to the machine featured in Conrad Leach's portrait of George, at speed on his beloved flat-tanker.  George has built a few of these flat-tank customs, both for Dunhill showrooms and private customers, and his work is top notch. If anyone knows their Nortons, it's George!
1930 Scott Sprint Special...
There are several variations on the Scott two-stroke theme, including a 1930 Sprint Special, which is simply exquisite in its pared-down functionality (and eccentricity), and a genuine 1926 Scott factory TT Racer, which looks astonishingly correct and with a nice worn-in patina, being an older restoration, with a few miles under its belt (road-registered - as old race bikes should be!).

The hot rod Silk, with a 500cc short-stroke, piston-ported racing engine
Another ultra-rare Scott based machine is this 1977 Silk 700S Mk2, one of George Silk's homage/updates to his beloved Scott marque.  Silk created an engine based closely on the Scott, with updates for speed and power, but he retained the Scott 'deflector piston' system, which gives great low-end power, but not so great top end power.  While other 700cc mid-'70s two-strokes were popping wheelies and scaring the crap out of their owners in corners, the Silk is eminently civilized, smooth and quick, with a racing chassis by Spondon, which means it can be ridden in the real world every bit as quickly as its rivals, except at the stoplight drag race.  This machine is extra special, as Silk experimented with a modern piston-port design on a few racing machines of 500cc, which were indeed as fast as their contemporaries.   This bike is one of 2 roadsters fitted with such a motor, and even though it's 200cc down on the standard product, no doubt it's 20mph faster on the top end.  This is one machine I'd have liked to find in a private sale, but it will be entertaining to watch the Silk fanatics duke it out in the auction.
The 1926 ex-Works Scott TT racer
What else?  A few Brough Superiors, four American four-cylinder machines (Cleveland, Excelsior, Indian, and Ace), and pair of Coventry-Eagle Flying 8s from the estate of an old pal of mine...bikes I tried to buy many years ago but couldn't quite finish the deal.  Now someone will have to pay 10x what I offered 10 years ago - these are very cool bikes.  It's my understanding (from the late owner) the OHV Flying 8 engine is a later addition; the bike originally had a 4-cam JAP sidevalve motor, which is included in the SV Flying 8 package sold separately (which has a single-cam engine included too). The 'real' OHV Flying 8 has a chassis with a larger diameter top tube than the SV - it's relatively easy to compare if you do a little homework.  The former owner rode this machine extensively, and it's a real beauty.
Red-fronted beauty, the Coventry-Eagle Flying 8 with JAP KTOR 1000cc motor.  
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1 comment:

themarquis said...

just to tell you how much I like your blog. Very nice and interesting stuff, well written.
Max The Marquis