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Mecum MidAmerica Motorcyle Auction celebrates its silver anniversary in Las Vegas

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1918 Harley-Davidson board track racer. Photos courtesy Mecum Auctions.

The first full week of January, 2016, will no doubt have hundreds of motorcycle collectors and investors looking for that next bargain, keeping their eyes on two interesting auctions that may see new highs in bidding prices for classic and vintage cycle iron. Both Mecum and Bonhams travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to host premium auctions that week, and below we highlight just a few of the over 700 bikes being offered at the Mecum 25th Annual MidAmerica auction. We’ll follow up with a selection of offerings from the Bonhams auction in a future post.

Dozens of early Indians from the Larry Pederson and Art Redford Collections, prewar BMWs from the Sinless Cycles Collection, and British bikes from the Dennis Gabriel collection will no doubt garner much of the attention. Early Harley-Davidsons are also among the featured bikes for this auction, including a selection of unique race bikes.

1912 Henderson 4

1912 Henderson Four

1912 Henderson 4.

Very few of the two-seat version were ever built and only 6 of the first year 1912 models are known to survive today. I can say I have seen half of them. This one has had a complete restoration done several years ago and was bought from a collector in South Africa in the eighties. Pre-auction estimates price it easily into six figures. This bike was recently purchased at Mecum’s 2015 E. J. Cole Collection auction. We will see if the owner bought it well and it gets bid past the reserve.

1951 Harley-Davidson WRTT

1951 Harley-Davidson WRTT

1951 Harley-Davidson WRTT.

Built particularly for road racing, the TT version of the 45-cubic inch V-twin WR model racing bike featured a Wico magneto ignition system and drum brakes. The brakes are an upgrade from Harley’s 1951 WR track race bikes which had none.

1908 Harley-Davidson “strap tank” Model 4

1908 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank

1908 Harley-Davidson Model 4, better known as the “strap tank.”

We featured this bike in upcoming the February 2016 edition of Hemmings Motor News. The bike was found in Wisconsin in 1941 and restored by Paul Freehill. Only 450 examples were sold by Harley-Davidson in 1908, a low production year, and this bike is a true survivor and one of a handful of correctly restored units. Paul used the 1908 Model 4 in Harley-Davidson’s own museum to restore the bike to its full stature. A similar 1907 model sold for a whopping $715,000 at the Mecum auction in March, 2015, making it the second highest-bid motorcycle ever bought at auction, with another 1907 garnering $352,000 at Gooding sale in 2006. We are following this particular bike carefully as it was purchased at the Monterey Sports and Classic auction in 2007 and were curious to see how the owner’s investment has appreciated over the last 8 years.

1918 Harley-Davidson Model J Board Track racer

1918 Harley-Davidson board track racer

1918 Harley-Davidson board track racer.

The lightweight single-loop frame holds a 61-cubic inch engine and 3-speed hand shift transmission. The wheels were designed specifically for board track cycling, and this racing bike actually has brakes on the rear wheel. One of only 6,500 built in 1918, but few can be found in better condition than this bike.

1942 Harley-Davidson WLA

1942 Harley-Davidson WLA.

Other bikes we feel are of interest to the curious and should bring interesting bids include a 1929 BMW R62 from the Sinless Cycles Collection, lot #S129; a 1917 Henderson Board Track Racer with 57 cubic inch inline four, lot # F69; a 1912 Pierce 4, lot# F142; a 1937 Rudge Sport Rapide 250cc, lot# F185.1; a 1921 Indian Power Plus in original race trim, believed to be raced in the British Isles in the 1920s, lot# S70; a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA military motorcycle with only 13,000 miles on the odometer, lot# S88; and a 1974 Bultaco Pursang, lot # T69. An interesting amusement park ride, a replica Indian motorcycle used as part of an attraction at Lenaert’s Amusement Park lot# K24 is one of two park ride vehicles included in the catalog.

The Mecum Presents: 25th Annual MidAmerica Motorcycles Las Vegas Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction will be held January 7-9, 2016 at the South Point Casino and Exhibit Hall in Las Vegas, NV. The entire auction catalog is now available, as are further auction details at