World auction records help raise much-needed funds for National Motorcycle Museum

1 of 7

The struggling National Motorcycle Museum (NMM) received a massived boost in much-needed funds with record-breaking sales at the Bonhams Motorcycles Winter Sale.

The NMM had 52 motorcycles from its reserve collection in the first day of the two-day sale, with two of them setting world auction records. First up was a 1928 Sunbeam 493cc TT Model 90, which raced at Pendine Sands. It cleared its upper estimate of £24,000 easily, bringing in £41,400 while a 21,188-mile 1990 JPS Norton F1 went for £40,250 – both world records.

Related articles on MCN

The stars of the show were five Brough Superiors, with an original 1936 SS100 selling for a whopping £276,000. It wasn’t all just classic machines, three MV Agustas brought in a combined £186,000 while a 1976 Honda CB750, which had been pushed just 3.6km, flew past its £4000 estimate getting to £9800.

Elsewhere some racing memorabilia also did well with two collections from the families of Barry Sheene and Percy Tait. A team holdall of Sheene's went for £3187 while a Gabriel watch that awarded to him at the 1976 Chimay race sold for £7650, which was more than ten times the estimate. A set of Tait’s race worn leathers even went for £5737.

The motorcycle collectors market is currently buoyant fuelled by people looking for a relatively safe investment given the current economic turmoil. Despite the prevailing conditions and having to be rescheduled numerous times, Bonham’s two motorcycle sales brought in more than £6.7m this year.

The next sale is scheduled to take place on April 24-25, 2021, at the Stafford Showground as part of The International Classic Motorcycle Show.

National Motorcycle Museum fights for survival after funding snub

First published on 11 November, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

The National Motorcycle Museum needs your support

The National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham is facing a fight for survival and is calling on bikers to save the day after a funding denial kick in the teeth from the Government.

The museum, which houses over 1000 motorcycles, had applied for a grant from the Recovery fund which was set up to help organisations hit by the Covid-19 restrictions – but was turned down.

Related articles on MCN

More than 1300 grants were given to help the arts and while the National Motorcycle Museum received nothing, the Postal Museum got £860,000, the Stained Glass Museum £71k and the 2Funky Music Café in London £92,000. Even the Toulouse Lautrec Jazz Club were tapping their feet to the tune of a £246k bailout.

Museum Director James Hewing was left fuming. He said: "I spent two weeks applying for this grant and the museum’s financial director spent another few days collating the numbers and we have just been told we aren’t getting anything.

"Motorcycling is obviously not trendy enough, not woke enough.

"No reasons have been given and there is no right of appeal or any way of contacting the Department of Culture. We are devastated."

Now the museum, which opened in 1984, is hoping its Covid-19 raffle will raise enough funds to allow limited reopening in the new year. The raffle costs £12 for two tickets and the winner will get a new-old stock 1977 Norton Commando 850. Second prize is a 1948 Ariel NG 350 and third prize is a 1959 BSA B31.

Hewing added: "We are not even halfway to raising the £500,000 we need just to break even, but we know how generous motorcyclists are and we are hoping to open for limited periods in the new year just to give something back."

Before Covid-19 hit, the museum attracted around 250,000 visitors a year. One of the biggest draws for many guests is the comprehensive cross-section of British machines.

The museum’s aim is to preserve these pieces of history for future generations to come, as a reminder of this great nation’s industry, engineering prowess and work ethic. But that costs money. Enter the raffle or make a donation at to help save this superb venue.

Reasons to visit the National Motorcycle Museum

First published on May 23, 2019 by Dan Sutherland

The museum is full of British of motorcycling heritage

The National Motorcycle Museum houses the world's largest collection of British motorbikes with over 1000 models from 170 manufacturers, spanning three centuries. But there's more to do than just look at the machinery on display.

Ever fancied riding a £100,000 1949 Vincent Black Shadow series C, or perhaps a £200,000-plus 1930 Brough Superior SS100? Well, now you can with the National Motorcycle Museum.

Available through the 'Friends of the Museum' scheme, the annual £29.95 subscription (for adults) offers a wide range of benefits, including unlimited entry to the venue, as well as access to a number of impressive riding experiences.

This includes the 'Museum Classic Bike Tours' initiative, which sees a range of six classic bikes from the museum available to ride for a day in the company of two out riders on modern machinery, with two mechanics in tow.

Running between March and late September, slots on all six of the yearly rideouts are made available by paying an additional fee to cover the insurance of the bike. This varies between models, with prices starting at £350 for machines like the 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650cc and climbing to £750 for the ultra-exclusive metal, including the Brough Superior SS100. 

Learning to ride a classic motorcycle

The first of these dates will take place on Saturday, March 23, with all six places now booked in. If the bike of your dreams doesn’t appear on the list available, the museum alternate the machines on the list with every ride. What’s more, should the unfortunate occur and you take a tumble, you incur none of the cost of repairs.

"Twice the Brough has lost a footpeg where someone’s clipped it against a curb and we’ve had it dropped, but they’re only motorbikes," museum director James Hewing said. "We’ve got three of the best restorers in the country."

"You think £750 is a lot of money, but we could sell out that experience for every weekend of the year. It’s nothing to people. People get too precious about this stuff and when you get too precious about stuff, then you can’t engage people."

Located on Coventry Road in Solihull, the museum opened its doors in October 1984 and was the brainchild of Roy Richards, who started the exhibition after selling off his plant hire business in the 1970s.

Holding around 850 British motorcycles from 171 manufacturers and with a further 150 on loan to customers including the Triumph Visitor Experience, the midlands venue’s collection is valued at a staggering £34,000,000.

"We tend to only do the riding days from the end of March to the end of September because of the weather, but if it rains, then they get wet." Hewing added.

"I’ve got two guys in the museum five days a week who just clean the bikes and they do van driving as well and they will wheel them out for people if they ask. We get a lot of families that come up with the old boys who owned some of these bikes and we’ll wheel them out and plonk them on it for a photo. We’re not precious at all – quite the opposite."

If you fancy riding these special machines, visit the National Motorcycle Museum website for more information.

Riding a classic machine

Ride more for less

Alongside the pricier tours, the museum also offer 'Try a classic bike' training days, which allow participants to ride a range of machines in a specially designed course around the museum’s grounds.

These take place on six days, with two groups per day at a nominal price of just £12.50. Much like the longer experiences, your fee covers you for any accidental damage and grants you access to an array of amazing machines, including the likes of the Brough and the Vincent. This is only available to Friends of the Museum, too.

National Motorcycle Museum LIVE

The National Motorcycle Museum

Once a year the Museum holds the hugely popular NMM Live Open Day when it allows free entry to all visitors; this year’s event will be taking place on Saturday, October 26.

Previous years have included a full programme running throughout the day including a chat show hosted by racing legend Steve Parrish featuring Freddie Spencer and Carl Fogarty plus Peter Hickman, Michael Rutter, Maria Costello, John Cooper and Peter Williams to name but a few. The museum’s expert restoration team are usually in attendance too.

There is also the opportunity to hear many of the museum’s famous race machines running in the Start Up Arena, as well as several ex-MotoGP bikes, and if that’s not enough to keep you occupied on top of the museum’s incredible collection, an indoor autojumble and trade area runs throughout the day.

Where is it?
Coventry Road, Bickenhill,Solihull, West Midlands B92 0EJ

When is it?
Open 7 days, 8.30am-5.30pm

How much?
£9.95. See online for full details on concessions

01675 443311 or visit

More from MCN

Read the latest stories causing a buzz this week in Advice…

Jordan Gibbons

By Jordan Gibbons

News Editor, owns some old bikes. Should know better.