Rare Velocette, White Shadow featured at Bonhams bike auction

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Velocette carried Freddie Frith to world championship in 1949 | Bonhams photos
Velocette carried Freddie Frith to world championship in 1949 | Bonhams photos
Velocette carried Freddie Frith to world championship in 1949 | Bonhams photos

The 1948 Velocette 348cc KTT MkVIII that carried Freddie Frith to the 1949 world motorcycle racing championship headlines a Bonhams’ Spring Stafford Sale auction, scheduled for April 23 at the Carole Nash International Classic MotorCycle Show in England.

Also featured at the auction are several barn-found bikes and still-crated 1990s superbikes, as well as what Bonhams terms “affordable classics for every taste and budget.”

Bonhams notes that Velocettes with significant racing history rarely go to market, but that the ex-Firth bike was a works special racer that won the 350cc class of the FIM World Championship, including a victory in the famed Isle of Man TT.

“As is often the case with racing machines, the works Velocettes were dismantled and sold on,” Bonhams said in its news release, “but thankfully the engine and frame from the ex-Frith 350 were reunited and rebuilt using genuine works parts. With its purposeful appearance, it is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful racing motorcycles ever made, and is offered ready to either race or parade.”

The ex-Firth Velocette has a pre-auction estimated value of £120,000 to £150,000 ($145,000 to $185,000).

Also on the docket are:

Vincent White Shadow
Vincent White Shadow
  • A 1949 Vincent 998cc White Shadow Series C project motorcycle, one of only 15 produced and barn-found at that.
  • A never-ridden 1998 MV Agusta 750cc F4 Serie Oro, No. 8 of 300 produced and believed to be the first to be offered at public sale (Bonhams notes that the rest were sold only to company executives and members of royal families.)
  • A 1960 Ducati 250 GP racer formerly owned by Mike Hailwood and John Surtees.
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Also offered for bidding is a racing suit worn by Hailwood in the 1978 and 1979 Bathurst Grands Prix as well as the unique Apple Computer-sponsored leathers worn by New Zealand racer Graeme “Croz” Crosby.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.