Stafford classic motorcycle show 2021 is over run by Japanese and Italian classic motorcycles, but what does this mean? I wrote this article back in 2015 describing how the demographics of motorcyclists was having a profound impact on price rises for Japanese and Italian classic motorcycles. Stafford proved this point beautifully and the trend I described in that article is playing out very clearly. When I last went to Stafford in 2016 the machines on display were about 80% British motorcycles and 20% Japanese and Italian motorcycles. Last weekend when I went, it was about 70% Japanese and Italian motorcycles and 30% British motorcycles on display. That is an incredible shift, which I am happy to say I noted not only in that article in 2015, but I also predicted this trend before it even started in 2013 in this article (see paragraph 6 and 7). This isn’t to blow my own trumpet, it just demonstrates that we understand this market because we have been working within it for decades. In fact it is articles such as these that has prompted the Vintage Motorcycle Club of Great Britain to engage me to write articles for the monthly magazine for their 14,000 members. It’s not rocket science, it’s just facts and numbers!
Both articles talked about the demographics at work that are creating massive demand for very rare motorcycles made by the Japanese and Italian manufacturers between 1970 and 1983. They talk about how classic British motorcycles were not really that rare, in terms of Norton Commandos and Triumph T120s, and how many restored examples are out there with a dwindling population chasing them down. This surge of 40, 50 and 60 somethings all buying these Japanese and Italian motorcycles is constantly growing and showing no signs of slowing down at all, in fact the demand is growing on a daily basis. Between 1970 and 1983, when the two part motorcycle was introduced, making motorcycling more difficult to access Britain sold more motorcycles than ever before. The same was true globally for three very good reasons. Car insurance was prohibitively expensive for anyone under twenty one. The new ranges of Japanese motorcycles available at affordable prices were incredibly reliable and great transport for commuters. Hire purchase agreements were available to working people to buy their new or used motorcycles increased motorcycle sales substantially. Riding a motorcycle had never been easier and young people bought them in their droves, as the sales figures globally clearly demonstrate.
Mirroring of the classic car market
The same price rises have been noted in the mirroring of the classic car market, however it has played out more rapidly and acutely in the car market. For fifteen years or so the prices of highly prized pre-war cars have really collapsed, with the exception of the capacity and supercharged cars (the Vincents and Broughs of the classic car world). Likewise, British made motorcycles are becoming challenging to sell and command a strong price, which was never the case before now. The large capacity Vincents, Broughs, Harleys and Crockers are all doing very well and are in great demand, so prices are very strong for these. Likewise in the art market artists can go out of fashion, but a Picasso will always increase in value.
Racing motorcycles also delivered the same clear trend. Yes there were some Manx Nortons and a lovely array of Triumph triple racing motorcycles, but there was a strong presence of Suzuki TR750s, Honda NSRs and many more. I’ve written extensively about the value offered by classic racing motorcycles in this article here and many more articles over the last few years, if you would like to look through our blogs. I also predicted this trend in the seventh paragraph in this article and even stated that Carl Fogarty championship winning motorcycles had sold for less than £30,000 at that time and predicted them reaching six figures. Last year such a motorcycle sold for €650,000 and they will deliver much greater profits in the coming years. A Kenny Roberts TZ750 sold for over US$1.5 million recently, so there are great profits to be enjoyed from motorcycles raced by Barry Sheene, as they offer incredible value and the Roberts bike has now set the standard. If you are serious about owning a genuine Sheene racing motorcycle then please give me a call as I do have access to such machinery. Racing motorcycles have always proven to be exceptionally tax effective for company owners and that is also helping with their desirability. However, the truth is that people love great stories and classic racing motorcycles offer great stories.
The COVID effect
It would be disingenuous of me, not to mention an attempt at bending the truth to suit my own ends, if I did not point out another factor behind this. Many owners of British made motorcycles are older than those who own Japanese and Italian classic motorcycles, in general. As such, many owners of the British motorcycles certainly stayed away due to COVID 19. Therefore this would have certainly had an negative impact on the number of British manufactured motorcycles present at the show. What is interesting is that there was certainly a plethora of Japanese and Italian made motorcycles ready to jump into their place and they were warmly welcomed as classic motorcycles in their own right. This clearly is a sign of the times and an indication of the future
Many of the incredible stories of these wonderful machines have not been told yet. At The Motorcycle Broker we tell these stories and raise awareness of these beautiful machines, which adds value to the motorcycles we sell. As awareness is raised then demand increases, if demand increases, so do prices. As prices increase it becomes clear that only the investment grade classic motorcycle is the motorcycle that delivers great profits. The rest are all great fun to own and ride, but they’re not where you would place your pension or investment portfolio.
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