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Crocker Motorcycle

1940 Crocker Is Expected To Sell For $500,000 At The Barber Vintage Motorcycle Festival

By General Posts

by Andrew Wendler from

Though the name “Crocker” may not resonate among the non-initiated as readily as Harley Davidson or Indian, enthusiasts recognize Crocker motorcycles as some of the most desirable and powerful bikes of the pre-war era.

Founded by engineer and former Indian dealer/distributor Al Crocker, the brand saw its first success with the Speedway, a single-cylinder bike that quickly became a favorite of west-coast racers. Encouraged by his success, Crocker sold his Indian dealership in the mid 1930s and established the the motorcycle company at 1461 Venice Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles . Leading off with the “Small-Tank” Crocker in 1936, Crocker followed up with the “Big Tank” model in 1939.

Frequently built to customer specifications, several examples came equipped with a 91 cubic-inch v-twin engine (1491 cc) that helped the Big Tank earn its reputation as the fastest bike of the era. According to folklore, Crocker reportedly advertised that if a customer’s Big Tank v-twin was beaten by a stock Harley Davidson, he would refund the owner’s money. No record exists of a refund being issued. Often referred to as the Duesenberg of Motorcycles, the Crocker Big Tank is undeniably American.

Large and brash, the bike incorporates numerous aesthetic and functional design disciplines of the era, displaying both aviation and marine overtones in its design and construction. No attempt is made to hide the mechanical bits; from the bicycle pedal kick-starter to floorboard-style footrests and from the exposed fuel and oil lines to the tank-mounted shifter, functionality and elegance exist in harmony. Often, it’s this tangible and endearing characteristic that separates merely rare motorcycles from the truly desirable and significant ones. That said, most experts agree that fewer than 30 Crocker Big tanks were built.

This 1940 Crocker Big Tank on the block at Barber features reasonably well-documented history, although it has seen a significant amount of reconstructive surgery. Reportedly the personal bike of one-time Crocker employee and machinist Elmo Looper, the bike eventually found its way to Jungle Jim’s, an L.A. scrapyard where it was eventually purchased and saved from the crusher sometime in the 1950s. After passing through a series of owners, the bike made its way to the East Coast, where the current owner undertook a restoration process that consumed nearly 15 years. The frame is spliced with a donor frame, the front forks, gas and oil tanks and fenders are careful reproductions, and the engine and gearbox were rebuilt by vintage bike savant Mike Lang.

Pre-auction estimates suggest the Crocker Big Tank V-Twin will command between $495,000 and $595,000 U.S. when the hammer falls.


1937 Crocker Small Tank Model To Hit Auction Block In Las Vegas In January

By General Posts

Bonhams is thrilled to announce the addition of another rare motorcycle to be offered alongside the already impressive list of rarities at its annual Las Vegas auction.

The 1937 Crocker Small Tank – serial number 36-61-8 – comes from the renowned collection of Dale Walksler’s Wheels Through Time Museum.

Called as the “Duesenberg of motorcycles,” Crocker is the definitive American motorcycle – handmade, powerful and fast. Very much a Hollywood “hot rod” bike, Crocker was created in and shaped by the culture of pre-WWII Los Angeles, California, by former Indian distributor Al Crocker. When it debuted in 1936, the upstart founder brazenly challenged world dominators Harley-Davidson, boasting of superior technology, performance, handling and raw power. As the story goes, Al Crocker famously advertised that if any of his bikes were ever beaten by a stock Harley, he would refund the owner’s money. No refunds were ever requested.

As a bespoke machine, each Crocker was made to the specifications of its buyer. This expensive and time-intensive approach meant that quality remained high but production output low. Total Crocker numbers never exceeded more than 125 units before World War II forced the firm’s closure, and today only around 50 of those units are accounted for, making Crocker motorcycles extremely rare.

After fading into relative obscurity for half a century, two major events transpired that vaulted Crocker to the consciousness of collectors worldwide. First, the Guggenheim Museum’s groundbreaking 1998 exhibit The Art of the Motorcycle prominently featured a Crocker (owned by famed auto collector Otis Chandler). Then, the seminal 2006 Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance presented Crocker as a featured marque with a record-breaking 20 examples on display. The attention provided by these two events – highlighting the marque’s unique history, success and rarity – suddenly made Crocker one of the most desirable and expensive motorcycles in the world.

What makes Crocker #8 even more special is the fact that this is one of the believed seven surviving Crockers constructed with the famous hemispherical heads. Furthermore, this is the earliest made Crocker to ever be offered at public sale. Estimate is $500,000-$600,000.

Also from the Wheels Through Time Museum are a further five pre-war American motorcycles:

1910 Harley-Davidson Model 6A

1914 Excelsior Model 7C

1915 Harley-Davidson 11F

1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead

1938 Harley-Davidson WLDR

Bonhams’ seventh annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction will take place Thursday, January 26th at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

For more information about the consignments from the Wheels Through Time Museum, or any of the other exceptional vintage and classic motorcycles to be offered, visit