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The best of British, American and celebrity owned motorcycles at Bonhams Stafford Sale
Former Top Gear duo James May and Richard Hammond are both looking to downsize their motorcycle collections, offering 12 machines for the upcoming sale. Photo: Bonhams.

STAFFORD.- With 190 collectors’ motorcycles and over 100 lots of motorcycle memorabilia and spares, Bonhams Motorcycle Department once again raise the bar with a feast of Veteran, Vintage and collectors machines at their Spring Stafford Sale.

James Stensel, Head of Bonhams Motorcycle Department said: “This year’s Spring Stafford Sale (26 April) includes the finest selection of machines we have had the pleasure of offering in recent years. The emotional connection to a motorcycle can’t be underestimated, nostalgia is incredibly powerful and we invite you all to join us at the Spring Stafford Sale to experience a little of it first-hand”.

Veteran motorcycles rarely appear for sale publicly, therefore the examples offered provide a rare opportunity to experience the dawn of motorcycling first hand. The 1911 Douglas 2hp Model D (7,000-10,000) is unusual in that every single owner over the succeeding 104 years is known and recorded within the substantial history file, whilst the 1913 New Hudson 6hp ‘Big Six’ (15,500-18,500), incorporating a three-speed hub gear, was found unrestored in Italy prior to being fully restored to original condition.

Often considered to be the last of the truly ‘hand-built’ motorcycles, ‘flat tanks’ are highly prized by collectors and enthusiasts alike. The most unusual and perhaps most interesting of these, the c.1916 Norton 490cc Model 8 ‘Brooklands Road Special’ (13,000-18,000), is not for the faint hearted - Norton’s 490cc model was the first ever machine to be officially timed at over 70mph - in 1911!

One of the highlights of the sale, the 1939 Vincent HRD Series-A Rapide (220,000-260,000) was once rescued from a scrapyard and has more recently been the subject of a seven-year restoration to concours standard. There are approximately just 65 Series-A Vincent v-twins in existence, making this machine exceptionally rare.

Further Vincent highlights include the 1955 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series-D (40,000-50,000), with one owner for the last 52 years; with one owner from new, the 1955 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series-D, With Prince Bodywork (40,000-50,000); in Chinese Red, the 1955 Vincent 998cc Rapide Series-D (30,000-36,000), and an entrance model 1950 Vincent 499cc Comet (8,000-10,000).

Legendary superbike of motorcycling's between-the-wars 'Golden Age', the Brough Superior was synonymous with high performance, engineering excellence and quality of finish. The Earls Court Motorcycle Show, 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp (30,000-40,000) is unusual in that it retains matching frame, engine, gearbox and fuel tank numbers. Elsewhere, the 1933 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp Project (10,000-12,000) offers affordable entry into Brough Superior ownership, whilst the 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine (70,000-100,000) offers unparalleled levels of originality, a beautiful patina and a traceable ownership history. Equally exciting and somewhat more scarce, the 1926 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying Eight (80,000-120,000) had a sporting reputation, with a guaranteed 80mph top speed in period.

Several elusive American motorcycles are set to break cover, including both v-twin and four-cylinder examples. The 1928 Indian Type 401 (65,000-70,000) has an interesting history, having been smuggled out of Czechoslovakia before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and has since benefited from a full restoration. Other four-cylinder examples include a 1925 Henderson 1,301cc De Luxe Four (30,000-40,000); c.1927 Cleveland 746cc '4-45' Four (25,000-35,000) and 1927 Ace 1,229cc Four (18,000-24,000). Some might argue that two cylinders are better than four and the c.1927 Excelsior 750cc Super-X (15,000-18,000) is easily capable of competing against its four cylinder brethren.

Motorcycle ownership has seen a renaissance in recent years and celebrity ownership has helped expose the benefits of riding to new generations and the wider public. Former Top Gear duo James May and Richard Hammond are both looking to downsize their motorcycle collections, offering 12 machines for the upcoming sale, many without reserve. Hammond said: "As a serious collector of motorcycles, it's important to review one's stable regularly, and the Bonhams Stafford sale is the ideal opportunity to move bikes on and possibly acquire new ones. I also have a canoe, and some Wharfedale hi-fi speakers, if anyone's interested".

May added: "Just because I'm unemployed now doesn't mean I have to get rid of everything," said May. "I was going to sell these bikes anyway. And those paintings, and my collection of Scalextric cars. Honest".

Entrance into motorcycle ownership needn’t be difficult nor expensive and the Spring Stafford sale caters for every interest and budget with approximately twenty per cent of the motorcycles offered at ‘No Reserve’. Whether it be a 1965 Greeves 246cc Challenger MX2 (No Reserve) or an exacting replica of the iconic ‘Easy Rider’ Harley Davidson Chopper ridden by Peter Fonda in the 1969 hit ‘Easy Rider’ 1952 Harley Davidson 1,200cc EL 'Captain America Replica' (No Reserve) – there is something for everyone.

New for this April, Bonhams will be holding a complimentary viewing between 10:00-13:00 Saturday 25 April.

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