One of the places where café-racer motorcycles first roared, ridden by rebellious British rockers in the 1950s and ’60s, was the Ace Café in the Stonebridge area of North London.
The 24-hour café with nearby access to a new and fast-moving highway, attracted riders on their Triumphs, Nortons and BSAs, and spawned an entire style of race-style customization, which became known as café racers after Ace and other venues like it.
The original Ace Café closed its doors 1969, the building repurposed as a tire shop. In 1994, avid motorcyclist Mark Wilsmore was riding past the site when he had the brainstorm of hosting a 25-year Ace Café reunion. When more than 12,000 bikers showed up, he knew he was onto something and soon founded the reborn Ace Café company.
Twelve mostly British bikes owned by Wilsmore, the founder and managing director of the new-generation chain of Ace Cafés, will be auctioned by Bonhams’ Autumn Stafford sale, held October 13 and 14 in the UK.
Wilsmore’s collection includes classic two-wheelers – some of them done up in café racer style – such as a 1959 BSA 604cc Gold Star, valued at £12,000-18,000 ($15,600-$23,500); a 1962 BSA 646cc Rocket Gold Star, £6,000-10,000 ($7,800-13,000); 1974 Rickman Métisse Triumph 750, £4,000-6,000 ($5,200-7,800); and a 1959 Norton 500cc Dominator/Manx Special, £4,800-5,600 ($6,250-$7,300).
As well as the re-established Ace Café in London, the rock ‘n roll bar/restaurants are now located in such place as Finland, Switzerland, Spain, and China, with the first Ace Café USA opening last year in Orlando, Florida.
The two-day Bonhams motorcycle auction, featuring 539 lots of vintage parts, literature, memorabilia and bikes from the early part of the 20th century to modern performance machines, will be held at the Staffordshire County Showground in Stafford, England. For more information, visit the auction website.