1914 Henderson Model C. Photographs courtesy Bonhams’ Auctions
The October 15 Autumn Stafford Motorcycle Auction at the Carole Nash 24th annual Motorcycle Mechanics Show was filled with bargains and record-setting selling prices, as their featured motorcycles of the auction–1911 Pierce 4-cylinder, 1932 Brough Superior, 1914 Henderson Model C, and 1912 Pierce single-cylinder–drove bidders into a buying frenzy. Although none of the motorcycles offered this day made their way into the rarified air of the most expensive bikes ever or for their particular nameplate, there were some eyebrow-raising prices paid for vintage iron, as well as several newer racing bikes that were also well bought.
Tops in the bidding wars was the 1914 Henderson Model C four-cylinder pictured above, a former museum piece. Early Hendersons were fitted with a 1068cc inline four-cylinder F-head engine and a single-speed transmission employing a chain drive to the rear wheel. This particular Model C was first owned by a Scottish gentleman who took it with him when he was stationed in Norfolk, U.K., during WWI. The 1914 vintage means it was a product of the Henderson brothers in Detroit and built several years before the company was sold to Ignaz Schwinn and became Excelsior-Henderson. The bike was also sold with reams of original documentation. It topped sales for the weekend at $149,357 including buyer’s premium.
Pierce motorcycles were the first American bikes to have four-cylinder engines. The engine design was inspired by a similar Belgian FN-engine motorcycle that founder Percy Pierce purchased in Europe and brought back to the U.S. with him. The 1911 bike also features a sturdy 3½-inch diameter frame and a shaft drive transmission. Pierce motorcycles were only manufactured between 1909 and 1913 in Buffalo, New York, by the Pierce-Arrow Motor Company. Because of the many “modern” features incorporated into the bikes, the costs to produce versus actual sales forced the company to discontinue motorcycles and focus on automobiles. This particular bike was sold in 2012 at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction and has since gone through a restoration by a premium British restorer who made the bike mechanically sound without damaging any of its 100-year-old patina. The bike gaveled at $141,988 including buyer’s premium.
1932 Brough Superior.
Brough motorcycles are the Duesenberg V-12s of the motorcycle market and have been for at least the last decade. Many have reached the half-million mark (and several of those were basket cases). So, it was no surprise to see a 1932 Brough Superior SS80 Deluxe sell for the same $141,988 price as the Pierce. The 981cc J.A. Prestwich-engined Superior originally left the factory in 1932 with a sidecar, and features Castle front forks. It was one of the last Superior SS80s produced with the JAP engines. Later, SS80s featured the Associated Motor Cycle-produced 80-cu.in. engines until SS80-model production ceased in 1939.
1912 Pierce Model 12.
Another Pierce of note that was sold was a 1912 Model 12 with a 644 single-cylinder engine that has had only one owner since new. The dual cam engine and two-speed transmission with belt driven rear axle was capable of 55 mph when first offered. This bike was also originally purchased with a sidecar by it’s one owner in 1912 and kept in a garage in Ohio until his death in 1984, when it was willed to a nephew. The bike also features acetylene lamps and a hand-crank horn. It sold for $118,407.
1950 Vincent Black Shadow.
If Broughs are the auction darlings of the last decade, Vincents are not far behind. Several were sold at Stafford, including this 1950 Series C Black Shadow with a freshly restored 998cc engine, which commanded $105,142 at the final hand-raising.
1972 MV Augusta 750S.
2007 Aprilia 250cc Grand Prix.
The sale also featured no less than 10 Jawa Speedways, selling for between $4,000 and $24,000 each; a 1972 MV Augusta 750 S, which sold for $111,000; and a 2007 Aprilia 250cc racing bike that carried Jorge Lorenzo to the 2007 World Championship and sold for $133,000. Complete results can be found at Bonhams.com.