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7th March 2008

Huge Online Auction Gets Underway
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Over 100 vintage vehicles are up for grabs in the first online auction of its kind. Here’s the highlights, and the classic bikes we’ll be watching over the next 10 days...

If you’ve never taken part in an online auction then this is the ideal moment to jump on the bandwagon. There are always plenty of old bikes for sale online, but this is the first mass-listing of over 100 vintage vehicles which will be auctioned on eBay over the next week or so (technical difficulties allowing. It turned out to be trickier than expected to get all 100 items listed at once…)

Click to see the eBay listing 1939 Vincent Meteor 500

The sale is scheduled to end on March 16th 2008, so you’ve over a week to peruse the lots, chat to the sellers, arrange a part-exchange and dive in with the bidding. You may have been a little shy about using eBay before, but this is a useful introduction to online auctions. The giant sale is being organised by two well known traders in the old bike business.

Andy Tiernan has been in the classic bike business since 1972, collecting and trading British and European machines from his establishment in Suffolk. Andy’s passion is for military machines from the Second World War and BSA V-Twins from before that war, and you’ll often find beautifully original 1930s machines lurking among his stock.

You may well have spotted Andy at any of the big autojumbles, hunting for bargains and resplendent in his bright red overalls. Andy’s partner in the giant online auction is Colin ‘groovydubber’, a long-time eBay powerseller with an impressive (and slightly worrying) enthusiasm for old and weird cyclemotors, scooters, mopeds and more.

Together they have set up BuyVintage.co.uk which is the hub of this auction adventure. Many of the machines featured in the auction, which is being conducted through eBay, are from their own personal collections.

Andy and Colin are offering more facilities than you’d usually find on a private auction, to tempt first-time bidders into action. If there’s time then you can go and see the bike you’re interested in, or if it’s appropriate then Andy will give you a price for part-exchange on your existing machine, and help to arrange delivery to the UK mainland.

Each auction lot is accompanied by a full description and heaps of photos, plus history where it’s known and occasionally a road-test report too.

To add variety to the auction, there’s no fixed policy about starting prices, Buy It Now options and reserve prices. It very much depends on the condition and value of each individual machine. Some will have fixed prices with the option for interested parties to make an offer, while others will starts at £1.50 without a reserve price.

Now, it’s unlikely that a Vincent Comet is going to be listed at £1.50, No Reserve, but it’s always worth watching to see what crops up over the ten day auction period…

Like any auction, online or physical, there are plenty of lots in this sale which won’t appeal to most people and a few attention-grabbing big names which will attract a lot of action. There are many RC readers who’d probably consider that £1.50 for a 1975 Puch Maxi is quite enough, thank you!

An online auction is a double-edged sword, too: you don’t have to travel to the saleroom and compete with other bidders in person, but you can’t kick the bike’s tyres and see if the engine turns over freely, check for missing components and stare your competing bidders in the eye. Mind you, the coffee is usually better at online auctions – and you don’t have to sit through three hours of bidding on priceless spares / hideous old junk (delete as appropriate) to get to the one lot you’re interested in.

Bidding from home can lead you into iniquity, however, so while we’re always game for a challenge we would remind readers that buying any old bike ‘in big bits’ as a project is going to take twice as long to complete as you intended, and you’ll spend three times your initial budget. So don’t get carried away, clicking on the bid button unless you are absolutely sure. Once you have placed a bid then normal eBay rules apply: you bid on it so (if no one bids higher): you bought it!

Colin freely admits that many of the machines which have come from his collection may not be to everyone’s tastes, but to him these obscure old machines provide cheap and easy access to ‘the social and industrial history of their particular era. I feel a real connection with the people of the time when I’m involved with these machines’ he explains ‘and can view the bikes from a completely different perspective. I think that these small and odd old machines are an excellent way to introduce more people to our hobby; they’re a great way to discover the joy of vintage motorcycles.’

The first 40 items are listed here. More are at the bottom of the page...

So Colin admits that if some of his lots don’t sell then he won’t be too disappointed to keep them. One of his favourite oddities is the 1960 Centaur Folding Scooter. It has a 49cc engine with a pull-cord starter and conveniently folds up into ‘a suitcase which is way too heavy for anyone to carry!’ Bidding on the Centaur starts at £1250 with a Buy It Now price of £1450 -- but no one has taken the bait at the time of writing this...

Click to see the eBay listing
1960 Centaur Folding Scooter

However, some of the more desirable motorcycles attracted attention straight away. One of the last Vin singles built before WW2, a 1939 Vincent Meteor 500 was listed at £1.50 (now there’s a sprat to catch a mackerel if ever we saw one!). The bike has been in the same family since new and was recently taken for a test ride by Andy T’s mechanic who reckons it is ‘very smart and well-sorted; superb bike to ride; punchy engine; good handling; everything works well.’ No great surprise then that the bidding bounced straight up to £10k, and we expect it to clear its reserve and find a new home.

Click to see the eBay listing
1927 Radco

Another £1.50 listings is a 1927 Radco from Andy Tiernan. Andy says it’s ‘a rare one… the engine started quite readily and sounded OK. The girder forks have minimal play as you would expect -- nothing to be concerned about. She has a slow puncture in the front tyre otherwise everything seems OK.’ The bidding went straight past the thousand pound mark within 90 minutes of the auction starting.

Click to see the eBay listing
1961 Norton Jubilee

A 1961 ‘fabulous’ Norton Jubilee ‘totally restored’ started out at £1.50 and got its first bid within an hour of being listed. Last time we looked there were five bidders competing to be this machine’s suitor, no doubt seduced by its colour-matched panniers and full fairing, and the MoT which runs until October. There’s a long time to go before the auction ends, and our guess is that the bidding will peter out once it hits four figures – but we’d be delighted to be proved wrong!

Click to see the eBay listing
1928 BSA Sloper

As we expected, a 1928 BSA Sloper has also got people bidding. It’s an ‘outstanding machine’ which has been in the same family since new and has recently been restored at a cost of over £9000. The S29 was one of the first of BSA’s popular tilted-forward singles, and this one comes in roadgoing trim with a current MoT. The bidding is at around five grand now, and could easily creep up into five figures.

Click to see the eBay listing
1963 Triumph Tiger Cub

If these auctions follow the usual pattern of online bidding then there’s likely to be a lull in bidding part-way through the term of the sale … and then you can expect the last-minute bidders to leap in with three seconds to go. But there may be some lots which represent good value to someone interested in that particular model. You probably don’t want to pay the £1750 BIN price for a 1963 Triumph Tiger Cub, but if you could get it at £1250.01 then it’s be a spiffy ride for summer, coming with a new MoT for summer.

Click to see the eBay listing
1959 BSA C15

The same applies to the BSA C15 which has ten months MoT and could sell for under a grand. It’ll be interesting to see with these kind of bikes whether auction-fever takes hold and people end up paying over the odds for bread-and-butter bikes. Alternatively, there’s scope for bargain hunters to swoop in and nab an unusual machine at a stupendously low price. Maybe someone really will win a Corgi Brockhouse Combination for just £1.50!

Click to see the eBay listing
1948 Corgi Brockhouse Combination

Pop back here in a week’s time, and we’ll update you on how the bidding has gone…


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And here's the full list, with current highest bid and time remaining...

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