Bonhams inaugural sale of Collectors’ Motorcycles

Jamie Knight, the man in the driving seat of Bonhams first auction

Buying a bike at auction is not a difficult thing to do. All the auction houses will help you if you’re unsure of how to go on and not just because they want to part you from your money. It’s good commercial sense for the auction company to deal fairly with sellers and buyers, if they don’t neither group will come back to any of their sales.

We had a glance round the results of some recent auctions to see what the market has to say about prices; have a look and see how they compare to asking prices in Old Bike Mart.

Undoubted star of this first Bonhams auction at the Bristol Classic Show has to be the 1932 Brough Superior Black Alpine. In what can be best described as ‘original’ condition, this 680 model bristles with Brough bling… at least ‘bling’ for the 1930s. In an era when rears were rigid, the Black Alpine boasted a sprung frame and even in unrestored form the motorcycle exudes style which, in its day, would have made quite a style statement.

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The Black Alpine 680 was a ‘budget’ Brough – if such a term could be laid alongside any of the Nottingham marque’s products – and could conceivably be an entry level model for those aspiring to Brough Superiorness. The Black Alpine went for £64,220 making it the high value machine of the inaugural sale.

Bonhams reported an excellent ‘first sale’ with all but four lots finding new homes.

As the auction began, one or two models caught the OBM eye, the first of which was a rather nice looking 1930s 250cc Velocette MOV. With Velocette’s race pedigree, handling was excellent and Thirties good looks make it an attractive proposition even today.

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As the world struggled back to normality in 1946 many factories would have stocks of military machines and the easiest way to get a civilian model would have been to repaint them in everyday colours. Norton’s 16H model had been a civilian machine from the 1920s. It was then pressed into the military service and came out the other side and remained a feature of the Norton range until the Fifties. The 1946 model in the auction may well have been one of the ex-service models hastily revamped.

An easy way into motorcycling used to be on the low powered BSA Bantam. With no great surges of power to frighten a novice, many a learner was gently introduced to the powered two wheeler world on one of them. The 1957 D1 in the sale made £1350 and looked all complete.

Sunbeams are ‘love ’em’ or ‘hate ’em’ machines. Those that love them – like the editor of OBM – are really into them and those that don’t like them probably haven’t ridden one. You could have experienced Sunbeaming for £4255 at the auction.

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? See James Robinson's video from the Show

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