Classic British Motorcycle Investment

drivingClassic British motorcycle investment has become much trickier today than it was five years ago. I wrote about this back in 2015 in this article and predicted it happening in 2013. Back in 2015 you could pretty much name your price for a Triumph Bonneville or Norton Commando, such was the demand. However, the demographics have shifted and moved on from those times, reducing demand as less of the people who owned such machines die or give up due to age. So which classic British motorcycles are a good investment?

1939 Vincent Comet RHS above
1939 HRD Vincent Comet, Series A

Classic motorcycle market follows classic car market

The classic motorcycle market follows the classic car market, as they are very similar markets in essence. Demographics have been really changing with both the cars and bikes with pre-war machinery really falling off in demand, in the most part. There are some very big exceptions to this phenomena, as they are the Picassos of the car and motorcycle world. In general, large engine machinery and certain racing machines from the pre-war eras are continuing to increase in value because they are so well established. However, small to medium size engine vehicles and machines which are not competition in their nature have fallen heavily in value and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, motorcycles from 1969 onwards, the correct investment grade examples, are enjoying unimaginable gains in values. The same is true with the car market, in general, but there are differences.

Brough Superior 11.50 LHS
1937 Brough Superior 11.50 we supplied with an incredible history.

Which British classic motorcycles will increase in value?

In the car market large capacity pre-war classic cars have still continued to do very well because they are so established. Their appeal is beyond owners buying them because they remember them from their youth. Big engine Bentleys, especially those that were supercharged, continue their meteoric rise along with old Bugattis and Alfa Romeo 6Cs and 8Cs, to mention but a few. The same is true with British motorcycles, Broughs, Crockers and  Vincents all continue their appeal with even new investors, as they are so well established. Also genuine Manx Nortons, Matchless G50s and AJS 7Rs are all in big demand. However, a lot of pre-war motorcycles and post WW2 British motorcycles have fallen off in demand and will continue to do so. If you want to invest in British classic motorcycles you need to know the market very well. The motorcycles that are in demand are those which have seriously established themselves in motorcycling history. This is only the classic motorcycle market mirroring the classic car market.

Vincent Rapide Series C LHS 2
Genuine, Vincents that have not been re-stamped are very difficult to find.

Which British motorcycles will fall in value?

Small and medium capacity pre-war British motorcycles have become very hard to sell, with a very small following of enthusiasts and quite a large selection of machines available. Until the end of the 1950s, Britain exported more motorcycles than any country in the world. There are a lot of machines to choose from globally from a very small number of enthusiasts. Broughs and Vincents were only built in comparatively small numbers and delivered great stories with great associations. Even the post war British motorcycles, such as the Bonneville and Norton Commando are falling in demand as more people who had them in their youth reach the end of their lives. These bikes were built in massive numbers. At one point Triumph were building 30,000 Bonnevilles a month and they sold them all over the world. Since then, globalisation has seen many of those machines re-exported, return to the UK and we are flooded with such motorcycles.

Classic British motorcycle investment summed up by this 1937 Brough Superior 11.50 we supplied.

British racing motorcycles

British racing motorcycles have always been in demand, as they dominated racing for decades without much competition. There is a big demand for original examples of these motorcycles, to the point that new industries have appeared, making replica Manx Nortons and Matchless G50s. Finding original examples of these motorcycles has become increasingly challenging and when they do emerge, investors will pay top money for them. Investors love a great story and classic British racing motorcycles certainly deliver with their stories. Motorcycles related to, or even supplied by, the likes of John Surtees command serious premiums.

Our 1957 Manx Norton WEB
A genuine Manx Norton we supplied to a client.

Vincents and Broughs

Vincents and Broughs have always been in demand are both becoming a safe store of wealth to big investors. Investment grade examples really do command enormous premiums over everything else in the same market, especially off-market. However, finding investment grade examples of either brand has become well beyond challenging. There are many around but try finding one worth buying and knowing it’s investment grade. 

Genuine Matchless G50
A genuine Matchless G50 has become beyond challenging to find.

Investment grade classic British motorcycles 

Investment grade classic British motorcycles are seriously challenging to find now, especially as they are so old and so few people to authenticate these machines now. At The Motorcycle Broker, we authenticate every classic motorcycle we are commissioned to acquire for our customers. If you want an investment grade Vincent, Brough, Manx Norton or Matchless G50, The Motorcycle Broker will find you one, but it usually takes quite a bit of time. The market is so full pretty looking machines that are just not investment grade and won’t increase in value the way an investment grade piece will. If you want to invest safely in classic motorcycles, call The Motorcycle Broker on 01803 865166, or 07971 497615 or Email [email protected]

Paul Jayson

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