Most expensive auction bikes

Published: 23 May 2017

Think some of the latest superbikes and adventure bikes cost a pretty penny or two? They're nothing compared to some of the most expensive bikes ever to sell at auction. Some of these bikes changed hands for over £500,000!

1976 Captain America Harley-Davidson (US $1,350,000) £836,337

The legendary ‘Captain America’ Harley-Davidson from the 1969 movie Easy Rider thumped its way to a whopping $1,350,000 – which equated to £836,337 at the time of sale – as part of Profiles in History’s Hollywood Entertainment Memorabilia auction in October, 2014. It’s claimed to be the highest price ever realised for a motorcycle at auction.

1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer (US $852,500) £573,600

There were only 12 of these motorcycles known to exist, until this one, which was owned by none other than Steve McQueen showed up. When it was auctioned in 2008 it fetched the highest price of any motorcycle sold, until the Captain America bike came along.

1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank (US $715,000) £481,000

If you’re after a Harley-Davidson with history then the Strap Tank's the model that you’d be after. They’re the first motorcycles that were built under the H-D banner. This motorcycle was within the first 100 motorcycles that were ever made by Harley-Davidson, with the serial number suggesting that it was the 37th bike made in 1907, which made it the 94th bike to leave the H-D production line.

1910 Winchester 6 HP (US $580,000) £360,500

Only 200 Winchester 6HPs were built by the Edwin F. Merry Company between 1909 and 1911, and this example, which sold at auction in 2013, is one of only two examples known to still exist. The single-cylinder engine pumps out a mighty 6bhp, as you might have guessed from the name. And yes, it's the same Winchester that's famous for making guns. This example was bought by an anonymous gun collector.

1932 Brough Superior 800cc model BS4 project £331,900

One of only seven survivors out of a production run of 10, this particular example was owned by Hubert Chantrey and it's believed he rode it during the Land's End Trial in 1932. The bike, which has two wheels at the back, is powered by the 747cc four-cylinder engine from the Austin Seven, but Brough bored it out to 797cc after initial tests on the first prototype revealed the 13bhp from the standard engine to be insufficient. 

1929 Brough Superior SS100 'Alpine Grand Sports' £315,100

Sold by Bonhams in November 2014, this bike took part in one of the toughest and most arduous races of the time, the Alpine Trial, with George Brough at the controls in 1925. George won six trophies during the event on the 968cc SS100.

1939 BMW RS255 Kompressor (US $480,000) £298,000

Also auctioned by Bonhams in 2013 this Kompresser is a bit of a mutt. This example was built in the 1980s using a genuine 1939 engine and a 1951 Rennsport "plunger" frame and also has a host of other modifications which make it an authentic recreation of the Kompressor spanning both pre and post war eras.

1951 Vincent White Shadow (US $434,000) £333,518

1507 Series C Black Shadows were built between 1949 and 1952.  Even rare than the Black Shadow is the White Shadow, of which just 15 were built. The White Shadow differed thanks to bare metal engine cases in place of the Black Shadow's black crankcases. This example is even rarer, in fact it's one of a kind. records show this White Shadow is the only one ever to be finished in the Chinese Red normally reserved for the Vincent Rapide.

1911 Flying Merkel Board Track Racer (US $423,000) £283,000

There were believed to be no examples of this model left, until this one showed up. The bike was owned by the Suttle family and raced regularly until the onset of World War One, when it was put into storage for 70 years. Unbelievably it still ran and before it was sold in 2015 it was used and exhibited regularly. It needed new tyres, though.

1942 Crocker V-Twin Big Tank (US $385,000) £258,000

This bike is one of only 72 V-twins ever made by Californian company Crocker. 1942 was actually the final year of production for Crocker was war-time restrictions came into effect and he decided not to resume motorcycle manufacturing after the war. Crocker were so confident in the speed of their machines they offered full money back guarantees if owners were beaten by Harley-Davidson or Indian machines. 

 

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