May 12th 2014
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H&H Duxford Auction, 2014
Richard Jones attends a classic motorcycle auction and is astonished when the bidding rises higher on a Bond Bug than on a cammy Norton International...
Regular readers may recall a report from the London Motorcycle Show held at Excel where auctioneers HandH were displaying some of the machinery they would be selling later in the year. Well 'later in the year' finally arrived and, with nothing else planned, Mrs Jones and I decided to go to the auction at Duxford to see how it all worked.
Many years ago, when Adam was still a lad, I trained to be a surveyor with a firm who sold a fair amount of residential property by auction. Sales were usually held in a pub or a function room in a hotel; HandH's venue at Duxford was in a different league altogether. Against a backdrop of jet aeroplanes there was plenty of room for all the bikes and cars on sale to be displayed as well as the area where the auction would be conducted. Moreover bids would be displayed on a big screen with smaller screens around the hall so everyone could see what was happening. The world has moved on since the early 1980s.
The sale started at 1pm so after looking at the bikes we had lunch in the Mess Restaurant followed by a look around the adjoining aircraft museum. How they managed to arrange so many large aeroplanes in one space is beyond me - the trip to Duxford was made worthwhile by seeing what the museum has to offer and I can heartily recommend a visit (www.iwm.org.uk). Even Mrs Jones, who is not perhaps the greatest fan of this sort of thing, had an enjoyable time and got to go on board a Concorde.
Unsurprisingly there was a great deal of interest in this Vincent Black Shadow which was first registered in April 1951 when it was sold to a Mr Robert Stanley by King's Motors in Oxford. However Mr Stanley did not take delivery and the machine was then re-sold to the current vendor in January 1952 so it's a one-owner machine. As well as the V5C, the bike also came with the original buff log book, a parts list, rider's handbook, an instruction book, various cables and a tyre pump. There was a final round of hard bidding between two very keen buyers and the hammer went down at £73,000, just short of the top end of the £75,000 estimate.
Surprisingly none of the other four Vincent lots - a 1955 Black Knight, a 1951 Rapide combination, a 2008 Vincent engine and the rather pretty Comet above - made their reserve. The Comet was first sold in November of 1950 to a William Wragg of Staffordshire and was described as 'being in good condition in all respects'. The machine had an estimate of £22,000 - £24,000 but the bidding only reached £18,000.
Another lot that got some attention was a 1955 NSU Sportmax 250, a machine that was made available to privateers in 1955 after NSU had withdrawn from racing the previous year. With an advertised 28bhp at 9000rpm and a compression ratio of 9.8 to 1, this was always going to be a swift machine but its racing pedigree also made it a valuable lot in the auction.
It was first purchased in 1955 by John Surtees who used it to win not only at Crystal Palace and Silverstone but also at the Ulster Grand Prix which was his first World Championship GP victory. In 1957 the machine was sold to Stan Hailwood for son Mike to race and in 1958, decked in the distinctive red Ecurie Sportive paintwork, it and Hailwood Junior went to work. The NSU achieved 34 podium places, including 25 wins and Hailwood's first TT podium when he came third in the 1958 Lightweight class which was also gave him his first World Championship Grand Prix points. So with previous owners like Surtees and Hailwood it could be expected to sell, which it did with the final bid in the room being £62,000, £7000 above the higher end of its pre-auction estimate of £55,000.
If I'd done a bit of preparation prior and, more importantly, hadn't surrendered my credit cards to Mrs Jones to avoid temptation, then I may have had a go a Lot 24, a 1955 125cc Villof. The marque is Spanish and appears to have been in existence between 1951 and 1961 when a range of 75cc to 125cc lightweight two-stroke models were manufactured using Hispano-Villiers and Villof engines. What you see is what you get - a small, single cylinder two-stroke engine with cycle parts featuring telescopic front forks and plunger rear suspension. Very neat and described by the vendor 'as being in good condition throughout'; it went under the hammer for £1300 and I wept quietly to myself, thinking what could have been, although Mrs Jones did make the very salient point that it would not have fitted in the car boot.
There were a couple of late entries to the auction, one of which was this 1930 New Hudson Sporting. The twin port ohv 350cc machine was said to have been fully restored some five years ago by a retired engineer but since then had formed part of a private collection and, as a result, would require some slight re-commissioning but was otherwise 'in immaculate condition'. New Hudson introduced its 346cc ohv model in 1924 and if this example had been a year older it would have an inclined engine with partial enclosure, innovations which were introduced into the 1931 model range. Despite not appearing in the catalogue the bike sold for £6500 which was exactly the same as the top end of the pre-auction estimate.
Another late entry was this handsome 1921 McIntyre Sporting which, it was believed, was the last known example of the marque. This example is powered by a 770cc v-twin JAP engine and was discovered by the vendor in a barn in 1988 having had seven previous owners. It has been restored and whilst it has a Swansea V5C certificate, it was said to 'require some slight re-commissioning.' Strangely there was very little interest and bidding stopped at £11,500, which was some way below the £15,000 to £18,000 estimate, and the McIntyre did not sell. So if you want a potentially unique motorcycle for the Banbury Run in June then give HandH a call now.
I don't suppose that it will come as a surprise that this 1956 DB32 Gold Star sold for £7500 in the room. This 350cc variant of the Gold Star was presented in racing specification and had been acquired by the vendor in 1998, since when it had been restored by Nigel Everett of Racing Restorations, Barry Sheene's mechanic and engine guru.
There were four Triumphs offered in the sale, one of which was this 1969 Triumph T100C Tiger which had been repatriated from the USA and first registered in the country of its manufacture in 2004. With a mileage of 429 on the odometer this very original example had won the Best of Class in the 2010 NEC Show. The bike did not reach its reserve when bidding stopped at £6000 in the room but it was said to be provisionally sold. The final selling price, presumably negotiated post-sale and including buyer's premium, was £7840 which breaks back to a net sale price of £7000.
Among the cars, this 1960 Messerschmitt KR200 which was offered from the estate of the late Roy Jarvis who apparently owned a private museum in Newmarket. Whilst the vehicle was in generally acceptable condition the engine was described as no better than 'fair' and 'maybe in need of a degree of rectification'. Despite this it sold for £16,000 including buyer's premium which is getting into Gold Star territory for motorcycles so not bad at all for a 200cc machine.
The other three-wheeler which caught my eye, not least because it was so bright, was this 1970 Bond Bug 700ES although its engine had been uprated to 850cc. The car had been re-sprayed, which perhaps explains its eye-catching characteristics, as well as having new decals applied; the engine had also been treated with new liners and pistons. The selling price of £7952 would equate to a successful bid of £7100 when the buyer's premium is removed. The original selling price of the Bug was circa £630 and if you apply the Retail Price Index the equivalent amount now would be about £7800 so it's not quite kept up with inflation.
By my calculation nineteen of the 37 motorcycle lots offered, including the Vincent engine, sold for a total of circa £268,000 including buyer's premium so a strike rate of just over 50%. As this was my first auction sale I have no means of saying whether this is good, bad or average but we did have a very enjoyable day. I found the whole process interesting, resembling in many ways property sales of yore but with differences that were intriguing. One thing that has changed with the advent of internet advertising, telephone and online bidding is that the marketplace is far wider now than it would have once been. There were bidders from Europe, South America and the USA, so vendors certainly get the widest possible interest for their machinery.
Let's finish with lot 26, this 1953 Norton wideline Featherbed frame housing a 500cc Model 30 International engine which had been built by a retired engineer over a five year period. It has a four speed gearbox, Manx clutch, Amal TT9 carburettor, alloy tank and 'Brooklands cans'. The pre-auction estimate was £11,000 to £13,000 but bidding only reached £7000 in the room - surely this has to be worth a lot more than a 1970 Bond Bug?!
Many more photos from other motorcycle events which Richard has visited can be found at: www.flickr.com/ photos/cerrig_photography/sets/
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