Two of the world’s most-admired classic American motorcycles from legendary brands have been consigned to Bonhams’ motorcycle auction at the Barber Museum, in Birmingham, Alabama.
The two featured bikes, a rare 1940 Crocker Big Tank and a 1910 Flying Merkel Twin, should garner serious bidding during the October 5 sale that takes place during the Barber Vintage Festival, known as the world’s largest vintage-motorcycle extravaganza.
Hand-crafted pre-war Crocker V-twin motorcycles have soared in value, with two small-tank models, from 1936 and 1937, selling for $825,000 and $715,000, respectively, at auction during Monterey Car Week in August.
Bonhams has assigned its Crocker Big Tank, serial number 4061-114, with a pre-auction value of $495,000 to $595,000.
“Called the ‘Duesenberg of motorcycles,’ Crocker is the definitive American motorcycle – handmade, powerful and fast,” Bonhams says in a news release. “Very much a Hollywood ‘hot rod’ production bike, Crocker was created in and shaped by the culture of pre-war Los Angeles, California, by former Indian distributor Al Crocker.”
The bikes were designed to take on the major U.S. brands, Indian and Harley-Davidson, with each Crocker hand-made to the specifications of the buyer, an expensive and time-intensive process. Only about 125 were created before World War II forced the company to close, and just around 50 motorcycles are known to exist today.
The Flying Merkel, despite its comical name, is also a highly desirable collector bike, an antique from the early days of motorcycling. Surviving V-twins such as this one are rare examples of the short-lived brand.
Bonhams values this Flying Merkel at $100,000 to $150,000.
“Flying Merkel of Ohio is the archetypal pioneering American motorcycle and represents all the attributes of desirability – innovation, high build quality, success in racing, low manufacturing numbers, short corporate lifespan and few surviving examples.” Bonhams says in the new release.
“Produced in both single and twin-cylinder configurations, the scarce existing twins are today the most sought after.”
For more information about the Collectors’ Motorcycles at the Barber Museum sale, visit the auction website.