Classic motorcycle market round up for 2023 part 2

This classic motorcycle market round up for 2023 part 2 is a deeper overview of our classic motorcycle market round up for 2023 part 1. In the last article we spoke more about specific motorcycles, so now let’s look at what trends have emerged over 2023. The classic motorcycle market has divided for auction houses as well as the private market, but in a different way. Some of the auction houses are forcing sellers to remove the reserve and have ended up giving machines away. However, such auction houses have lowered their standards and will sell anything with no come back. The quality of the machines they are selling is falling and serious buyers are deserting such auction houses because they got burnt in the past. However, other auction houses are sourcing incredible machines and they’re doing their due diligence on everything they sell. These classic motorcycle auction houses are regularly setting new world records at almost every sale. Iconic auctioneers are doing very well and delivering incredible machines which the opposition aren’t trusted to market properly. 

The classic cars that will increase in value are classic motorcycles
1969 Honda CB750 Sandcast is a very rare classic motorcycle which is destined to increase in value.

World record Japanese classic motorcycle prices 

World record Japanese classic motorcycle prices have been set year on year for quite some time. Let’s have a look at some of these records and see what they are telling us.  In 2018 the world record was set for a prototype Honda CB750 Sandcast. This was a world record for a Japanese motorcycle sold at auction, not privately as that’s held by the Honda RC174 six cylinder racer which eclipsed this figure quite unimaginably. Since then sandcast prices rose fiercely but have been slowed by sellers dumping really bad examples and burning buyers. Sandcast prices have plateaued since about 2021 and now is a great time to get a really good one before they really start to take off. There was another sold for US$155,000 in the US in April 2022 because it was owned by Steve McQueen’s production company, it wasn’t even owned by the man himself, you can see this here. We know about the poor quality restoration of a 1973 Kawasaki Z1 900 in January 2023 which went for US$55,000 but since then prices of Japanese classics in the US are really starting to kick on. Although these are sold in the US, many are going to Japan from these auctions, as well as staying put in the US. What is interesting is that since then, a Kawasaki H2 sold for US$55,000 and dodgy Kawasaki Z2 with ground out fame numbers sold for US$95,000. Another world record at auction was achieved for a Honda CB1100R in May 2022. Another world record for a Honda RC30 in May 2022 of £65,250 which you can see here. Someone paid £17,500 for a US 1976 Yamaha XT500 at auction this year, but I can’t get the link for this, however, I have seen the article. Bear in mind that even though that XT500 sold for £17,500 the cost of restoring an XT500, without the cost of buying a donor bike, is more than the value of the sale of this machine. These world record prices clearly demonstrate a phenomenal pressure under Japanese classic motorcycle prices. What matters is that they are investment grade Japanese classic motorcycles, because as prices increase buyers will now be doing their due diligence. The prices of the incorrect machines will really plummet and only find a home on eBay and at the bloodbath auction houses. 

Classic motorcycle market round up 2023
Already a new world record for a 1976 Yamaha XT500 has been set this year.

World record Ducati prices

When it comes to world record Ducati prices, the 916 series have been setting the world on fire at the finer auction houses since this second series Ducati 916 SP sold for £42,750 in November 2022. Since then two more world records have been set by the same auction house for a 916 SPS Carl Fogarty Replica for £61,500 in July 2023.  On the same weekend at the same auction a new world record of £45,000 for a Ducati 916 Senna series one was set. We did give our customers a heads up that Ducati 916/996 SP/S series prices would have to rise in 2019 in this article. There is no magical insight other than the reasons we gave in the article for these machines to increase in value. However, there is another price driver to take into account with any desirable classic motorcycle and that is cost of restoration. Many of these machines are now over thirty years old with a not very durable finish from new in a northern European climate. Nearly all of these machines need serious restoration underneath the bodywork, as I wrote in 2021 in this article about All Ducati 916 SP need work due to age. With Ferrari F40 owners starting to buy up these machines, the 916 SP series are extremely under valued compared to the car. The 916 SP series has now taken off and prices aren’t going back down and if they don’t sell in the UK, they go abroad. Once these machines go abroad, if we want them back then we have to pay import duty and transport which only increases the value. Also as more of them are exported, this depletes the already small pool of investment grade examples, leaving only the old junk which only increases values for investment grade examples in the UK. Most of the world record Ducati prices achieved were for machines which are remaining in the UK. However, none of these machines had any of the work required to be done to them to ensure that they are investment grade, so they will probably need quite a lot spending on them once the bodywork is removed. What is interesting to note is that new world records are bound to be set when the unicorn 1994 Ducati 916 SP comes to auction next, as this is the most valuable of all the 916 SP series and the rarest. These world record Ducati prices prove that there is enormous price pressure bubbling below the surface which will lead to further significant price increases in the future. 

1994 Ducati 916 SP1 RHS1
Although new world records have been set for Ducati 916 SP series. None of the record setters were most desirable 1994 Ducati 916 SP like this one.

World record MV Agusta prices

World record MV Agusta prices were achieved with one in December 2022 with H and H for £98,900 for a machine which needed an extreme restoration that will cost a fortune to do correctly. Another was achieved in July 2023 with Iconic Auctioneers for an MV Agusta 750 Sport declared to have the incorrect engine in the machine for £85,500. In December 2023 Gooding and Co held an online auction in which they achieved a world record price of US$170,500 for an MV Agusta 750 Magni America.  These MV Agusta world record prices are indicative of how difficult it is to find an investment grade MV Agusta form the 1970s and just how much price pressure there is underneath the values of these beautiful Italian classic motorcycles. Now really is the time to source an investment grade MV Agusta 750 of any kind, as there are so few decent examples available and they really do need investigating by one of the four people in the world who can do this work correctly. You need to change the gear box bevel bearing and check out quite a bit about these machines before riding them off into the sunset. Once they’re set up, they just need basic routine maintenance by someone who really knows them inside and out. They should not be left static as it really doesn’t do them any good whatsoever. The minimum work, if nothing needs attention, is three days, so that needs to be added to the price of two out of these three machines which would not need restoring. There is a reason why there have been world record MV Agusta prices in quick succession and why people are prepared to pay crazy prices for machines they know can never be correct. Finding any MV Agusta 750 Sport, which could be investment grade after having fortunes spent on it, is seriously challenging. Prices for investment grade examples are pretty much unavailable at this moment in time but something will come to market at a price the owner decides, having seen these prices. MV Agusta 750 Sports were always pretty much on a parity with a Ducati green frame price-wise, they were only slightly behind. Now that prices for Ducati’s green frame in investment grade state are really taking off, the MVs have quite a lot of ground to cover, so now really is the time to buy. All of the machines which need to make up ground always do, as they are desirable for a reason. The 750 Sport was usually nearly double the price of an MV Agusta 750 America Magni and now this world record MV Agusta price has created a new base line. All of this adds up to prices rapidly, fiercely increasing for MV Agusta 750s, especially the Sport. 

IMG 8443
MV Agustas are rapidly rising in value, but only the investment grade examples. However, even one with the wrong engine set a record last year, which demonstrates how difficult good ones are to find.

Moto Guzzi red frame world record price

The Moto Guzzi red frame world record price of US$95,700 in December 2023 at Gooding and Company I must confess, I didn’t see this coming at all. Thinking about it, it’s not surprising as these are very rare machines and do sit well alongside an MV Agusta or a green frame. What is surprising is that there are no new world records….yet…for Laverda SFCs or Ducati 888, especially the Lucchinelli Replica and the 888 SPS. There have been plenty of world record prices for them off market, but it’s just a matter of time before they set records publicly at auction. 

Moto Guzzi Le Mans MK1 LHS
One of the first 500 Moto Guzzi Le Mans MK1 will seriously increase in value after this sale of the red frame.

Summary of the classic motorcycle market

A summary of the classic motorcycle market from these public sales is that prices of the investable classic motorcycles are rising and have an enormous force building up underneath present prices. The article about The Cars that will Increase in Value are Classic Motorcycles from just over a year ago demonstrates clearly how far these motorcycles have to rise in price to realise their true value. I have been with many big car collectors who all say that there is like a wave of energy building under the prices of these motorcycles and at some point that wave will really power along and break. The cost of restoring these machines still isn’t even close to the cost of buying a correctly restored example. The big problem is that most of the restored machines out there may look lovely, but once you dig below the surface they are a liability. The reason for this is that owners get stuck into the restoration and as they hit problems, they cut corners. Finding out what the last person did takes far longer than just getting on and restoring an original machine which is very tired. Car buyers understand this, because the car market is much more sophisticated. There is a lot of car money coming into the classic motorcycle market, as we highlighted back in this article in early 2019. You will notice that quite a few of the world records were set by Gooding and Company in the US who have only just started doing motorcycles, but they were very well known for selling classic cars at the top end of the market. Iconic Auctioneers have also been instrumental in setting classic motorcycle world record prices and they also sell a lot of classic cars. These more seasoned collectibles buyers really do understand what value the classic motorcycles offer and are quite prepared to be bold to secure the right machine. This summary of the classic motorcycle market demonstrates clearly that the demand for investment grade classic motorcycles is really growing.

Unrestored 1976 MV Agusta 750 America RHS
This museum quality MV Agusta 750 America is destined to rise fiercely in value due to the new world record for an MV Agusta Magni.

Investment grade MV Agusta

If you want to source an investment grade MV Agusta, an investment grade Japanese classic motorcycle or an investment grade Ducati contact The Motorcycle Broker. We have the expertise to source the correct investment grade classic motorcycle for you and to do the work to ensure it keeps you on the road and doesn’t deteriorate. 

    Paul Jayson

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