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21st November 2005

Top Dollars

The US dollar is finally gaining ground on the UK's sterling, so this might be the last chance for British buyers to bag a real bargain abroad...

For anyone who lives in the States and who buys services or products from the UK, the exchange rate has been a real pain in the posterior for the last couple of years. It's made everything sold in GB£ feel twice as expensive. Sorry, guys…

…but there is an upside for those of us with pounds in our pockets to spend. Go shopping in the States (but save the airfare and do it on your desktop, of course). How's this for ironic - you could buy new-old stock from a US-based Britbike specialist, have it sent surface mail back to the whence it originally came, and still pay less than if you handed over grubby notes at a local autojumble! And if you shop around, then you'll certainly find stuff cheaper in the States than it's being sold by many UK eBay traders. But the dollar is starting to rise, so this might be our last opportunity to go on a spending spree for a wee while.

British Bike Connection support this site, so we'll remind you to scoot over to them at to see if they've anything in their current sale to suit your cycle. The sale ends on Nov 30th (although BBC normally have a few items in their 'special offer' section) and includes items like NOS Lucas rear light assemblies for Triumph and Norton bikes, still in their boxes, plus US-engineered and improved spares - like black alloy fork nuts for OiF Triumph and BSAs, or a leak proof fuel tap (its body is made from solid billet aluminium and the whole thing is pressure tested to 45psi), or a superb set of new yokes for 750 Triumphs, again machined from 6000-series billet aluminium. Don't start looking unless you're prepared to spend!

Please refrain from licking the screen if you are in a library, office or web cafe.

Now you might even be tempted to spend rather more, and look beyond bits and pieces and consider a whole motorcycle. If so, then one of the USA's top old bike auctions is coming up in January 2006 - and the sale list is already bulging. This is the Las Vegas Auction, which is so huge it takes three days to get through all of the lots, and it rightly claims to be the 'world's largest vintage motorcycle auction.' There are over 400 motorcycles already consigned to the sale and the catalogue runs to over 32 pages.

Las Vegas might feel like a long way to go to buy an old bike but, again, you don't have to shift an inch. MidAmerica Auctions will happily accept telephone or internet bids, and can help you to sort out the paperwork and shipping arrangements. You need to bear in mind that you will be buying 'sold as seen' (more like 'sold as unseen' in this case!), and you'll have to pay a buyer's fee (normally around 6%) on top of the hammer price, and shipping, and Customs & Excise will charge you VAT on the whole cost to bring the bike into the UK. Even so, you might just bag a bargain - or nab one of those really rare US models which hardly ever appear on this side of the Pond.

Two and a half grand for this.

For instance, at MidAmerica's sale earlier in this year, they sold a super 1960 G80CS scrambler for $4400. That's £2500 to thee and me. The tricked up T160 Trident you see here went for $4800 - or if you'd rather spend a lot less, then a Z900 Kwacker was sold for just $825, which is less than 500 notes to us Brits.

Roll up, roll up, get 'em while they're hot.

However, if you want to make a real impression you could've bought this butch 1967 BSA 650 Hornet for $4900. Gutted that you missed it? There's another one up for grabs in the January sale.

Not a patch on the 2005 Triumph Street Scrambler, of course...
Real Mart had a squirrel. It stole all his daffodil bulbs last autumn.

Or have you ever wanted a Scott Flying Squirrel? MidAmerica sold a 1949-vintage one for $6900 earlier this year, which is around £4000. If you want to have a go at bidding for a Squirrel of your own then you can bid for the 1966 purple version gracing this page.

Purple. Purple? PURPLE!

But perhaps the star of the last show was the 1951 Vincent Rapide which went under the hammer for just… $24,000. Hell's teeth! You'd pay the same amount IN POUNDS for one in the UK at the moment. So it would certainly seem to be worth keeping an eye on the bidding during MidAmerica's January sale - there appear to be two more big Vins on offer and the sale catalogue hasn't closed yet…

Ride it away for £14k. Bargain?


If the desire to spend too much money just overwhelmed you, see or email to find out how to bid. The auction starts on January 12th, and ends three days later when you dissolve into a small puddle of desperation.

You might even be able to persuade one of RC's American readers to go along to the auction and inspect your prospective purchase.

Alternatively, you could always hop along to our Bikes For Sale pages and buy something in Britain. It might be a little less glamorous, but the values of Bantams are rising, we've heard…

Random Bantam Stuff on


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