The Historics Classic Motorcycle Auction Report

Who are Historics.
Historics have sold classic cars for some time, but are a new player in the classic motorcycle auction world and have proved themselves to be capable of putting together a great auction. Although I was asked to put many of my vehicles in this auction, I chose not to. I wanted to find out from other vendors if the usual shenanigans were present, at this auction, that I have experienced from the more established players in the market (see my blog about such behaviours here). I am pleased to report that Historics did not force vendors to lower their reserves to unacceptable levels at the last minute. Neither did they appear to have phantom buyers on the phone who dropped out at the last minute.
The auctioneer was absolutely fantastic. So often they are dry, boring and humourless. This particular motorcycle auctioneer was great, building enthusiasm, he was graceful, witty and very humorous at exactly the right moments. We were standing for several hours listening to the auction, so a skilled auctioneer does make the entire process far more pleasurable.

The Classic Motorcycle Market
So what did this auction tell us about the classic motorcycle market? Quite a lot and not a lot, in short. It showed that the emerging market of Japanese machines and 1970s dirt bikes, are presenting themselves as a major presence. Prices are getting stronger with plenty of people bidding for these machines and prices rising for good reason (I will be blogging on this subject shortly). If you had put your money into these machines instead of a pension any time over the last five years you would have made eye-watering, tax-free, returns. This area of the market has a long way to go with far greater returns coming over time.
There is also another major player entering the classic motorcycle auction market and that is Coys of Kensington. It is indicative of a very lively market, which is sustainable, that Hstorics and Coys have both decided to evolve their businesses into classic motorcycles as well as classic cars.

Prices (Prices quoted include buyers’ fees)
It was a very mixed bag, because some machines fetched large sums and others, surprisingly, failed to sell. A fully restored Honda TL125 made £2.912. A Rickman Honda CR750 (I think it was in reality a CB750 not a CR) in immaculate condition reached £9,856. These Japanese Rickman’s and other limited edition Japanese motorcycles, such as Honda’s Phil Read Replica, Kawasaki’s Eddie Lawson replica and Suzuki’s Coolley replica GS1000 will all rocket in value, if they are genuine motorcycles.
A Montesa Cota 247 which requires full restoration and the engine and chassis numbers did not match went for £1,792, another with the frame having been painted the wrong colour, engine and chassis numbers did not match and the rear shocks were wrong for the machine achieved £2,464 . The Montesas are indicative of rapidly rising prices for trials motorcycles from the 1970s. Like the Japanese motorcycles of this era they are the emerging market and prices will keep rising and have a long way to go for very good reasons I will go into in my next blog about emerging market classic motorcycles. There was a trials Golner Kawasaki 250 which went for £2,464. I have always believed that these machines will become very collectible, simply because they are very rare and beautiful motorcycles of that era. A Suzuki Beamish 250, which was beautifully restored achieved £2,912. A brand new, unused Gilera 50 trail moped reached £4,480, which sounds an awful lot, but was great value for any collector. A lovely Ducati 888 SP5 sold for £14,560, which will force 916 and 996 prices higher (I have an ebook out soon about investing in 916 and 996 Ducatis).
There was a Suzuki GT750, disc brake model with a dent in the petrol tank. The switch gear was the wrong colour and the middle crank cases had been hand painted with the wrong lacquer, possibly by a very drunk koala bear, and that fetched £6,496.
Conversely there were some great bargains to be had. A Honda CR250 Elsinore red rocket, restored to concourse condition sold for £3,248. If I was buying, I would have bought that motorcycle in a flash. A BSA B44 sidecar outfit in pieces without the crank or gearbox only made £780 . I would have bought that and sold it on Ebay for a very handsome profit.

Motorcycles that did not sell
I was astounded to note that a lovely Vincent Comet did not sell, neither did a replica MV Agusta racer achieve a single bid at £30,000. A fantastic brand new Gilera four cylinder 500cc racer did not achieve a single bid at £40,000. These two Italian machines did give me pause for thought and I wondered why they did not achieve a single bid. So I got on the phone to classic motorcycle another expert, Anthony Godin of Anthony Godin …. And he pointed out some good reasons for this. Neither machine had engine or chassis numbers and could not be raced or put on the road. They could be ridden in a parade twice a year and admired in a collection. Had their been two passionate collectors bidding against one another, then it would have been a different story.

What does all this mean for classic motorcycle values?
It means that it all depends on which buyers are at the auction on the day. If you have two or more serious buyers after a genuine motorcycle, and they all really want that machine, then the price achieved will be healthy and higher than any price previously achieved. This will push up future prices of such machines and we are definitely in a rising market, especially for emerging market classic motorcycles. There are too many buyers for too few genuine, rare motorcycles.
If you want to buy a machine at auction, then know what you’re buying, or contact someone who does know. Make time to thoroughly view the machine, check the engine and chassis numbers are correct and that you are buying an investment grade motorcycle (see my article). Set a firm maximum price you are prepared to pay, including fees, and stick to it.
If you are thinking of selling your classic motorcycle at auction, then it is great news that there are now two new players in the business who do not involve themselves in the sharp practises I have seen executed by other auction houses. I am pleased to say that Historics and Coys are two very welcome new players in the market.
Coys have a very exciting sale coming up at Blenheim Palace on 11th of July 2014 and I am pleased to say that there are some incredible classic motorcycles in that sale. There will be a number of unique emerging market machines going under the hammer, which will rocket in value over the coming years.

Paul Jayson

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