Bonhams sold a Porcupine over the weekend for more than $400,000 during the Summer Stafford Sale in the UK. No, not the prickly animal but a rare AJS 497cc E90 “Porcupine” grand prix racing motorcycle from the 1940s, which led the weekend bike auction as the highest seller.
The E90 Porcupine, so-called because of its distinctive spiked twin-cylinder-head finning, is considered a Holy Grail of historic 2-wheeled racers, Bonhams says in a news release about the auction. The AJS was the first motorcycle to win the 500cc World Championship in the series’ debut year of 1949.
The British bike was previously owned by AJS factory team rider Ted Frend, and its sale of £293,250 ($406,243) set a world’s record. All Stafford results include auction fees.
“Just four E90s were built by the British firm, purely for its works team,” Bonhams says in the news release. “Ted Frend was the first rider to win on the Porcupine at the 1947 Hutchinson 100 race.
“The motorcycle offered was purchased in a dismantled state from the estate of the late rider in 2006 by his friend and neighbor Ken Senior, who oversaw the Porcupine’s rebuild, with the missing parts custom made.”
The Porcupine led a 90-item from all eras, from historic racers to “everyman classics,” Bonhams said, with a 98 percent sell-through rate for a total of £3,585,000 ($4,966,000). The three-day sale included bicycles, motorcycle parts and memorabilia.
The second-highest sale was for a Brough Superior SS100 1,000cc Supercharged Special re-creation, created by master craftsman and engineer Ewan Cameron, which achieved £126,500 ($175,242). A veteran 1914 Brough 497cc Model H, offered from the National Motorcycle Museum, exceeded its top estimated with a sale of £103,500 ($143,380), to nail third place.
Other highlights of the Bonhams sale included:
• The Ron Cody Collection of mainly Italian marques from the late sports car racer and engineer, with many examples of MV Augusta bikes and every one sold.
• A 1973 MV Agusta 750S with fewer than 12,000 miles that sold for £81,650 ($113,111).
• A 1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50 attached to a Petrol-tube sidecar, delivered new to the Sheffield Police force, that sold for £78,200 ($108,331). It led a selection of sidecars, tri cars and hybrids from the National Motorcycle Museum Collection.
• A “barn-find” 1954 Vincent 998cc Series-C Black Shadow sold for above its top estimate, realizing £54,000 ($75,800).
• A 1973 Norton Commando 850 Roadster offered by the family of the late Keith Emerson, founder member of the 1970s rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, that sold above its top estimate for £12,650 ($17,524).