Tanks for the memories: Mecum’s motorcycle auction a colorful showcase

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The fuel tank on this 1914 Penton 175 Jackpiner motorcycle was autographed by six-day enduro stars John and Tom Penton and Dave Magenast | Larry Edsall photos

How often do you contemplate the gas tank in your collector car or, for that matter, in your daily driver? But if you ride a vintage motorcycle, the fuel tank tends to be right there in front of you. In fact, it’s situated between your knees and hard to ignore even if you wanted to.

A few days ago as I wandered around and through the 1,300 or so vintage motorcycles being offered up at the 27th annual Mecum Auctions sale at South Point in Las Vegas, I couldn’t help but notice how the mechanical bits of the bikes were so beautifully, almost sculpturally exposed, including the fuel tanks.

I also was struck by how colorful some of those tanks had been painted by their manufacturers, so proud of their workmanship that they displayed their own names and logos there for all to see.

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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.

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