Buddy Holly’s Ariel Cyclone Up for Auction

August 20, 2014
Courtesy of Rosen Group
Buddy Holly Ariel
Buddy Holly’s 1958 Ariel Cyclone will go up for sale during the Waylon Jennings Auction on October 5, 2014.

Guernsey’s Auction House will resurrect the aura of outlaw country megastar Waylon Jennings on October 5 at the majestic Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix with an auction of more than 2,000 of the country legend’s personal belongings. The centerpiece of the spectacular collection is the limited edition 1958 Ariel Cyclone motorcycle that originally belonged to Jennings’ best friend and mentor Buddy Holly, and that was given to Jennings in 1979 after Holly’s death. The Ariel is beautifully preserved with just over 4,000 original miles, and has not been ridden in over twenty years, serving as a symbol of a pivotal time in American music history.

A stunning auction catalogue showcases the many fabulous items included in the collection—including the centerpiece Ariel Cyclone—complete with detailed photographs and descriptions of each item. Auction catalogues will be available in late August; to pre-order a catalogue ($30 plus shipping), visit www.guernseys.com.

Behind Holly’s Purchase

On May 13th, 1958, three young and newly successful musicians – Buddy Holly, Joe Maudlin, and Jerry Allison – found their way to Ray Miller’s Motorcycle Shop in Dallas, Texas. They had conceived a style of music redefining America’s tastes, combining Country, Pop, Rockabilly, and Rhythm and Blues into a new sound all its own.

Having just returned home from a world tour, Buddy Holly and the Crickets each bought new motorcycles to celebrate their hard work and good fortune. Joe Maudlin, the Crickets’ bass player, immediately fell in love with a Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle. Jerry Allison, their drummer, bought a Triumph Trophy. Holly was transfixed by a black Ariel Cyclone 650cc and purchased the limited edition model – one of only 200 that were ever built. To go with their new wheels, the trio purchased matching Levi’s jackets and peaked caps adorned with wings (pictured) and rode the 350-mile trip home in a thunderstorm.

Fatal Plane Crash

In the winter of 1958, Holly assembled a new band for his Winter Dance Party Tour, including Tommy Allsup on guitar, drummer Carl Bunch, and fellow West Texan and close friend Waylon Jennings on bass. By February, the band was exhausted from months of touring and sick of the bitter winter weather. Holly decided to charter the band to their next performance in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Also touring with the group were J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Richie Valens. Richardson asked Jennings if he would consider giving up his seat on the plane, as Richardson had been sick with the flu. Jennings agreed, and at the same time, Valens made a similar arrangement with Allsup, leaving Holly on the plane with Richardson and Valens while the other band members rode the tour bus.

The next morning, the news poured in from every outlet: the plane had crashed, killing all three passengers as well as the pilot in a tragic event dubbed “The Day the Music Died.” Jennings lost his closest friend, and for years felt that he was to blame. He gave up playing guitar and performing for two years, eventually leaving Texas for Arizona in hopes that he might find his way again.

After Holly’s death, the Ariel motorcycle stayed with the Holly family until they sold it in 1970. In 1979, Allison, Maudlin, and a third member of the Crickets, Sonny Curtis, approached the bike’s owner and put in an offer to buy it as a gift for Jennings’ birthday. Finally, Holly’s beloved Ariel found its way to Jennings on his forty-second birthday.

The bike is a 1958 Ariel Cyclone with a high compression 650 cc headmaster engine bears engine number CNLF 4510, chassis number CAPR 1069.

The entire collection can be previewed at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona on October 3-4 from 10:00am to 9:00pm. The live auction will take place in two sessions on Sunday, October 5, beginning at 1:00pm.

Absentee bidding via telephone and internet can be arranged. For additional information, visit www.guernseys.com or contact Guernsey’s at 212-794-2280 or Waylon@guernseys.com. For media inquiries or to request an interview, contact Jessica Weeg at jessica@rosengrouppr.com.

About Guernsey’s
Approaching its 40th anniversary, Guernsey’s has built a reputation as an auction house known for the presentation of the most extraordinary properties. From the largest auction in history (the contents of the ocean liner S.S. United States) to vintage racing cars on to artwork from the Soviet Union, pre-Castro Cuban cigars and the $3 million McGwire baseball, the firm has few rivals when it comes to the presentation of wildly diverse art and artifacts. Guernsey’s also has brought some of the most famous and intriguing personalities of the 20th Century to auction in events that captivated the world. The official Elvis Presley Auction featuring items from the Graceland Archives on to treasured items relating to the lives and careers of John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Jerry Garcia, John Coltrane, Dick Clark, Mickey Mantle and the Beatles were all Guernsey’s events. High-quality, high-visibility projects continue to be Guernsey’s forte. The Auction house is in the midst of its series of events devoted to the legendary, Holocaust-related poster collection of Dr. Hans Sachs and is currently offering one of America’s finest, most historic carousels for sale. Record-setting events of exceptional collections have very much become a Guernsey’s trademark.


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