Bonhams April Stafford Sale off to Flying Start

. January 31, 2008

Entries for Bonhams’ April sale at The International Classic MotorCycle Show, Stafford continues to grow rapidly. Joining the Brough Superior SS100 and Coventry-Eagle Flying-8 there will be a typically eclectic mix of machines from all eras, ranging from a 1900/01 Chater Lea to a 1999 Egli-Vincent.

Founded during the closing years of the 19th Century, Chater Lea started out manufacturing high quality products for the emerging British motorcycle industry before making its own complete machines around 1900 using the proprietary Minerva ‘clip-on’ engine. The ultra-rare ‘Veteran’ example to be sold by Bonhams was found in a Somerset barn and has been in the current owner’s hands for approximately the past 36 years. Its restoration began 30 years ago and is almost complete. (Estimate £7,500 – 10,000).

One of the world’s best known motorcycle frame makers, Swiss engineer Fritz Egli built his first frame in order to tame the wayward handling of his Vincent v-win racer. The prototype’s trademark large-diameter spine has been a feature of virtually all Egli’s frames since then, proving adaptable to almost all types of motorcycle engine layout. Egli-Vincent is these days widely regarded as a marque in its own right. Commissioned by the immediately preceding owner and assembled by professional restorer John Mossey, the example for sale with Bonhams was completed in 1999 using a replica Egli frame and a genuine Vincent Rapide engine. (Estimate £16,000 – 20,000).

Continuing the Vincent theme, Bonhams will sell two examples from opposite ends of the Stevenage company’s manufacturing career: a 1938 Series-A Comet single and 1953 Series-C Black Shadow v-twin. The single-cylinder Series-A Comet and Meteor were the first machines to feature the firm’s own engine, effectively kick-starting the Vincent legend, and as such are highly prized by collectors. The Comet to be sold has continuous history and was purchased by the current owner in 1964. It has covered only some 35,000-or-so miles from new and remains in outstandingly original condition. (Estimate £18,000 – 20,000).

The Series-C Black Shadow is a highly sought after all-matching-numbers example and comes with an exceptionally comprehensive file of history, having had only three owners from new. Supplied new via Jordan’s of Hull, the machine was first owned by two brothers and had been off the road for 27 years when it was purchased by the vendor in 2001. It will be offered for sale fresh from an award-winning, concours-standard restoration and has covered fewer than 38,000 miles from new. (Estimate £30,000 – 40,000).

A v-twin of considerably greater rarity, the 1922 Martinsyde Quick Six in the sale is believed to be the sole surviving example of this model out of the 100 made. The British firm of Martinsyde was founded in 1908 to build aircraft, and by the end of the first world war it was Britain’s third largest manufacturer. Martinsyde turned to motorcycle production at the war’s end and made its first public appearance at the 1919 Motorcycle Show at Olympia. Sadly, a disastrous fire in 1922 destroyed the factory and Martinsyde went into liquidation having built around 2,000 machines. Some 30-or-so are believed to survive. The Quick Six to feature in Bonhams’ sale was restored in the late 1980s and went on to win concours awards at the VMCC’s Banbury Run and Bristol Classic Bike Show. (Estimate £32,000 – 36,000).

While locating Martinsyde spares might be rather difficult, finding Vincent parts could not be easier thanks in no small measure to the Vincent Owners Club’s Spares Company. To demonstrate that point, the VOC has constructed a brand-new Series-C Black Shadow from spare parts, and Bonhams’ Motorcycle specialists are privileged to offer for sale this unique machine on the Club’s behalf. Completed and registered for the road in 2007, it is the first new Vincent (as opposed to Eglis and other ‘specials’) made since the factory closed its doors over 50 years ago. (Estimate £35,000 – 40,000).

With very few of the works BSA-Triumph 750cc three-cylinder racers now remaining in original condition, the 1970 BSA Rocket III, featuring in the sale, possibly represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a genuine example. The machine is one of only two Rocket III production racers prepared at BSA’s Competitions Department in Armoury Road, Birmingham. Ridden by BSA factory rider Bob Heath in UK events throughout 1970, it finished 5th place in the Isle of Man Production TT, and later that year contested the Bol d’Or at Montlhéry, France where it was ridden by Graham Saunders and Don Jones. At the end of 1971 the BSA was bought by the vendor, who campaigned it for the next two seasons in the Coupe d’Endurance Championship supported by Bill Crosby’s Reg Allen Motorcycles Ltd. In 1974 the ex-works Triple was sold and after a period of duty as a road bike, it was reacquired by the vendor who set about returning it to original condition for display at The London Motorcycle Museum. (Estimate £30,000 – 35,000).

Memorabilia associated with star riders always generates considerable excitement, and the collection of racing helmets from ex-Suzuki race-team manager Merv Wright is without doubt one of the finest to be offered at auction. Merv Wright managed Suzuki’s racing activities in the USA before being recruited into the UK’s Heron Suzuki team in 1975, which brought him into contact with some of the finest riders of the day, including World Champions Barry Sheene, Phil Read and Roger De Coster. Estimates range from £400-1,500. In addition to these lots, the Wright collection features helmets worn by Gerrit Wolsink, John Williams, John Newbold, Paul Smart, Jody Nicholas, ‘Tepi’ Lansivuori, Dave Aldana and Gary Nixon.

More unusual but equally collectable are two trophies from Honda Racing commemorating John McGuinness’ historic first 130mph lap of the Isle of Man TT course, achieved last year at the centenary event. Made by the Honda Racing machine shop staff using actual engine parts from the Senior Race-winning CBR1000RR, each consists of a piston, connecting rod and four valves mounted on a metal base. Offered separately and complete with certification, they are estimated at £1,000 – 1,500 each.

For further sale information or to enter an item for sale, please contact Ben Walker on +44 (0)8700 273616 or email: motorcycles@bonhams.com

Category: Auction News

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