Bonhams’ sale on Sunday, October 16, 2011 at the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show at Stafford was a resounding success with a sale total of £1.7million and 84% sold by value.
The top lot of the day was the 1929 Brough Superior SS100 known as ‘Moby Dick’. Hailed in its day as ‘the fastest privately owned machine in the world suitable for road use,’ this magnificent motorcycle attracted multiple bidders. Tested by Motor Cycling magazine in 1931, ‘Moby Dick’ achieved a top speed of 106 mph, a staggering achievement at a time when very few road vehicles of any sort were capable of reaching three-figure speeds. Further tuning of the modified 1142cc V-Twin engine later raised that figure to 115 mph in top (third) gear, with 109 mph achievable in second. Sold but later repurchased by the vendor’s family, Moby Dick was restored in 1998 and since then has continued to delight and amaze enthusiasts wherever it appears.
Three other Brough Superiors made it into the top ten. The 1924 980cc SS80 represented a rare opportunity to purchase one of the earliest surviving and most original examples of the model, and after spirited bidding realised £100,500 (estimate £75,000-95,000).
The 1930 Black Alpine 680 restoration project sold for £40,550 (estimate of £25,000-35,000), and the 1933 ‘11-50’ that took the ‘best original in show’ award at the BSOC Rally in 2004 fetched £34,500 (estimate £32,000-38,000).
Other significant results include a 1906 Minerva 4.5 hp V-Twin (£26,450), a 1911 Douglas 2.75 hp Model D (£18,400), 1953 Matchless 498cc G45 (£36,700), 1955 BSA 500cc Gold Star ‘barn find’ restoration project (£8,280), a 1969 Kawasaki 500cc Mach III/H1 (£12,650), a 1972 Triumph X75 Hurricane (£24,150), and a 1979 Ducati 864cc Mike Hailwood Replica (£12,075).
Ben Walker, Head of Motorcycles at Bonhams, comments, “Restoration projects were in strong demand with some outstanding results achieved in this category. But any machine with good history and a high level of originality (regardless of condition) was keenly contested by discerning collectors and enthusiasts.”