Barber museum motorcycle auction readied by Bonhams

Annual Alabama sale will be held despite motorsports festival being canceled

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“The Son of Moto Vincent” is a unique Vincent Black Shadow race bike built by Gordon Colquhoun | Bonhams photos

The Barber Motorsports Museum near Birmingham, Alabama, will be the main venue for Bonhams’ annual fall auction of Collectors’ Motorcycles & Motorcars, although two other sites in distant parts of the US also will be part of the live/online bidding action taking place October 10.

While most of the bikes and cars will be on display at the Barber museum, some of the entries will be shown at the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia or at Bonhams’ Sunset Boulevard gallery in Los Angeles. The vehicles can be previewed October 9 at Barber, Simeone and the Bonhams gallery, with bidding held at Barber as well as online and by phone.

The auction, primarily a motorcycle sale, is usually held in conjunction with the Barber Vintage Festival, which was canceled for 2020 because of COVID-19. Bonhams will still hold the auction at the Barber museum, although in the same pandemic-restricted format used in its recent Quail auction.

The impressive 1937 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead has some custom features

The auction arena will be scaled back and pandemic protocols will be enforced, with online bidders able to use Bonhams “virtual viewing” platform “for condition reports and a one-to-one bespoke ‘walkaround’ inspection with a specialist to examine a specific bike or car in detail from front to back,” according to Bonhams.

The auction is mostly about motorcycles, with an array of about 80 bikes on the docket, along with a good-sized collection of motorcycle memorabilia including posters, toys and other items.  Eleven collector cars also will be offered.

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The most valuable motorcycle at the auction is also the oldest, and it has three wheels: a restored 1900 De-Dion Bouton tricycle from the dawn of motoring. The beautiful antique has a pre-auction estimated value of $145,000 to $155,000.

The 3-wheeled 1900 De-Dion Bouton

Other valuable old timers include a 1937 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead, valued at $60,000 to $70,000, and a 1948 Indian Chief 348 Roadmaster, with a value from $30,000 to $40,000. 

British bikes will be well-represented, led by “The Son of Moto Vincent,” a unique Vincent Black Shadow competition machine built by Gordon Colquhoun cq that’s valued at $70,000 to $100,000.

Also on the docket is a “historically significant” 1962 Norton Manx 40 that was raced by Ray Petty, an accomplished engineer and Manx specialist who tuned the bike to his liking. The Norton, valued at $40,000 to $50,000, was kept by its current owner in his living room.

Bonhams
Beautiful 1962 Norton Manx 40, an iconic Isle of Man TT racer

Other British motorcycles that will be offered include a number of Triumphs and BSAs, plus those from Matchless, AJS and a hand-built “Triton” café racer.

Vintage BMWs also are on the Bonhams docket, such as a 1927 R57 valued from $50,000 to $70,000; a 1937 R12 with Steib sidecar, $20,000 to $30,000; and a 1966 R69S, $15,000 to $20,000.

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The 1927 BMW R27 opposed twin was one of the most-advanced motorcycles of its era

Italian two-wheelers ranging from Ducati racers to Vespa scooters will be on board, with a gorgeously styled 1934 Benelli Monalbero Sport estimated at $55,000 to $65,000.

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Japanese motorcycles, which have been rising in interest and value in recent years, will be included in the bidding, including some Yamaha and Suzuki dirt bikes, a few road racers and street bikes that include an iconic 3-cylinder, 2-stroke 1972 Kawasaki 500, valued at $11,000 to $13,000.

The extravagantly styled 1934 Benelli track bike

Aside from the high-priced featured motorcycles, quite a few of the collector bikes are valued in the 4-figure and low-5-figure range, making this a truly egalitarian event.

For more information about Bonham’s live/online event, visit the auction website.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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