HomeMediaGolden Age British motorcycles set for Bonhams' Amelia Island sale

Golden Age British motorcycles set for Bonhams’ Amelia Island sale

Single collection of 46 bikes a major part of Bonhams’ auction of 180 collector vehicles


Those perusing Bonhams’ catalog for its Amelia Island Auction might have noticed a large percentage of the docket is taken up by classic British motorcycles.

The reason is the inclusion of the Charles Jacobs collection, 46 motorcycles amassed over the years by the late Jacksonville, Florida, resident and regular participant in the motorcycle class of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. 

While Bonhams’ annual Amelia Island auction, held this year on March 3, is generally dedicated to collector cars, the Jacobs bikes make up a good proportion of the 180 vehicles that will cross the block.

“Offered entirely without reserve, the (Jacobs) collection comprises some of the most prestigious and rarest names in British motorcycle history – from Brough Superior to Vincent – and presents motorcycle enthusiasts with a rare opportunity to acquire these examples of its Golden Age,” Bonhams says in a news release. “Additionally, the proceeds from the sale of one of the lots, a 1954 Norton Big 4, will be donated to a local charity.”

Highlights of the motorcycle group include:


1936 Brough Superior SS-80 Matchless, known as the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles, with a polished Watsonian sidecar mounted on the left side for British roads. Estimated value $80,000 to $100,000.


1951 Vincent 499cc Comet, estimated at $20,000 to $30,000, shown at the Amelia Island Concours.


Circa-1927 Grindlay Peerless S.O.4 Model 350 “Dog Ear” single-port JAP, a rare machine from the short-lived pre-war British sidecar turned motorcycle manufacturer, which produced the first 500cc motorcycle to exceed 100 mph on British soil. Estimated at $30,000 to $40,000.

1934 Ariel 4F Square Four, also known as the Squariel, this innovative landmark model remains unique in motorcycling history, with its single block of four cylinders and twin geared-together crankshafts with pistons phased at 180 degrees. Estimated at $25,000 to $35,000.

1938 Triumph Tiger 90, an overhead-valve single that was part of a revamped Triumph lineup introduced in 1937, created by chief designer Edward Turner, who was previously responsible for the Ariel Square Four. Estimated at $20,000 to $30,000.

1963 BSA 499cc Gold Star, one of the final examples of BSA’s legendary café racer, one of the most successful production motorcycles. “This 500cc DBD model is considered the ultimate ‘Goldie’ with its famous RRT2 close-ratio gearbox and 190mm front brake equipped as standard,” Bonhams says in its description. Estimated at $15,000 to $20,000.

1954 Norton Big 4, named for the company’s first motorcycle driven by its own in-house engine, the 633cc ‘Big 4’ was the most powerful machine in the Norton range. The proceeds from the sale of this motorcycle will benefit Spina Bifida of Jacksonville. Estimated at $8,000 to $12,000.

“Motorcycles have rarely been offered through the various auctions happening over the years at the Amelia Island Concours week, and Bonhams is excited to finally be filling that gap with the Charles Jacobs’ Collection,” said Mathieu Guyot-Sionnest, Bonhams US Motoring specialist.

In addition to these 46 motorcycles, eight cars will be offered from the Jacobs collection, all without reserve, led by an elegant 1934 Packard Series 1101 Eight Club Sedan, estimated at  $70,000 to $90,000.

Bonhams’ live auction will take place at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club on Thursday, March 3, starting at 10 a.m. for motorcycles and automobilia, and 1 p.m. for motorcars.

For more information, visit the Bonhams website.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
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, 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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