If you think it’s hard to talk a salesman down on the price of a motorcycle you want, try competing with a room full of people who are willing to pay more than you are for the same bike. That’s what you’d have been up against on January 10 at the Bonham’s Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, where well-heeled collectors and their agents crowded into the Grand Ballroom of Bally’s Hotel and Casino on The Strip.
The star of the auction was a 1939 BMW Rennsport 255 Kompressor. The front-mounted supercharger helped BMW rider Georg Meier to become the first non-British rider to win the Senior TT at the Isle of Man in 1939. The bike was sold to a private American collector for $480,000. Another BMW, 1954 BMW Rennsport 54 sidecar racing outfit, sold for $167,800, and also went to an American collector.
Vincents have long been the darlings of collectors, and a 1952 Black Shadow was somebody’s new baby thanks to a winning bid of $134,800 from a collector from the Middle East who outbid several American buyers.
Too many classic motorcycles sold at auctions end up behind closed doors where only the buyer and a few close friends get to enjoy them. That won’t be the fate of an ex-Otis Chandler 1920 Mars Type A20, which sold for $86,250 and will make its home at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
Home might also be where a 1929 Harley-Davidson Pea Shooter is headed. This textbook barn find, untouched for 75 years, was an Australian speedway championship contender. The official sculptor for the Harley-Davidson Motor Company bought it for $69,000.