This little Yellow Bobber sold for above $15,000 dollars at a recent Mecums auction
Most motorcycles in America in the early 1950s were no nonsense, kick-start only iron with few if any frills or comfort features as we have today. America’s modern super-speed interstate highway system wasn’t even a twinkle in President Eisenhower’s eye, and gasoline was less than 15 cents per gallon almost everywhere across the Unites States. Two wheeled motorcycles were economic, fair-weather transportation for those men and women who loved the sun on their face and the wind in their hair!
by Bandit with photos from Mecum and Micah McCloskey
Are We Doomed or Kickin’ Ass?
Some feel the Las Vegas Mecum Motorcycle Auction is the Devil Incarnate. The money-making desire to flood the market with almost 2000 Vintage motorcycles in an unpredictable inflationary period could destroy the motorcycle industry and return us to where we started—grubby bikers.
Others were excited to find bits and pieces to complete vintage projects. Some wanted to sniff the action for clues to future sales. The Bikernet investigative team, which we can’t name included builders, brokers, collectors, racers and celebrities.
At Johnny Mac’s Chopper House in Philadelphia, our focus has been on building motorcycles for qualified charities, and so far it’s been terrific. We have one rule when choosing a charity, it has to support the military, kids, or dogs. We then work closely with the charity to handle advertising, social media, colors, and more.
We had HUGE success with our first charity build for Philabundance in Philadelphia, only to be followed up by our latest Tunnel to Towers Foundation Custom Build at the MECUM Auction in Las Vegas 1/28/22, which brought in $41,000.00.
Values have skyrocketed of late in the motorcycle world but there were still deals to be had.
The spending frenzy at Scottsdale’s January auto auctions may have garnered the headlines, but just a short road trip away in Las Vegas, Mecum’s motorcycle auction put on a similarly spectacular show for the two-wheeled crowd.
We reported last year that millennials prefer classic & vintage Harleys over Indians.
Knuckleheads are benefitting from broader, multi-generational appeal, and demand is increasing because younger buyers continue to move into the market while older ones aren’t leaving.
We spied on the industry all over the country and grabbed news from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, Vance and Hines, Indian Motorcycle, Saturday Night Live, MetalSport Wheels, Mecum Auction, Barrett Jackson, The Quail, Harley-Davidson, Bandit’s Cantina, Law Tigers, Accident Scene Management, Alex Epstein, Deadwood Custom Motorcycles, Cycle Source Magazine, Rider Magazine and way more…
For Christ’s sake, don’t forget Valentine’s Day. Your life is at stake.
Okay, in the meantime, ride fast and free forever…
The Bikernet Weekly News is sponsored in part by companies who also dig Freedom including: Cycle Source Magazine, the MRF, Las Vegas Bikefest, Iron Trader News, ChopperTown, BorntoRide.com and the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.
The Harley-Davidson scooter was considered ‘highly maneuverable and well balanced’ and definitely looks nice with its identifiable aesthetic from the early 1960s. Now, more than a vehicle, it is a piece of art.
Imagine you’re minding your business selling V-twin motorcycles from Milwaukee and then you see a manufacturer from Japan selling nippy compact imported bikes and little scooters in a market you’d been very popular in. What do you do? Simple, build a scooter yourself. And so Harley-Davidson did when in the late 1950s, Honda surfaced as a competitor.
Harley’s answer was called the Topper.
The Topper remained in production for only five years with production estimates in a four-digit figure, Jalopnik writes in a report. Barring the electric concepts Harley now has, the Topper was the only scooter the manufacturer ever built and also mass-produced. One of these has been found and is now heading for auction at Mecum’s Las Vegas Motorcycles 2022 auction.
Unlike the big V-twin that power H-D motorcycles, the Harley-Davison Topper was powered by a two-stroke single-cylinder that delivered between 5 to 9 hp. It came in three models. It is not known which one of them is heading to Mecum.
All that power was sent to its wheels through a continuously variable transmission. American Motorcyclist magazine from November 1959 mentions a pull start cord hidden in the chrome instrument cluster.
The Topper was considered ‘highly maneuverable and well balanced’ by the same magazine and definitely looks nice with its identifiable aesthetic from the early 1960s. Now, more than a vehicle, it is a piece of art.
Imagine being able to say you own a Harley-Davidson scooter today. And if you want to, you could. Mecum’s auction is set to begin on 25 January 2022 until the 29th of the month. Interested? Look for the Harley-Davidson Heritage Collection.
Kirk Taylor’s L’il Cha Cha was among the very first class of Tiny Strider Customs, a program of the Flying Piston Benefit that supports All Kids Bike – an organization that’s on a mission to teach every kid how to ride a bike as part of kindergarten PE class.
Custom creations are unveiled at the Flying Piston breakfast in August at the Sturgis Buffalo Chip then auctioned at the Mecum motorcycle event in Las Vegas the following January. Proceeds fund bike-riding programs for elementary schools.
Steve McQueen was an alumni of non-profit organisation Boys Republic and this motorcycle has the unique serial number matching from his bike.
Triumph Scrambler 1200 Steve McQueen Selling for Charity with Unique Perks
In April 2021, British bike maker Triumph announced the launch of the “highest specification Scrambler 1200 produced to date.” We’re talking about the limited edition Steve McQueen version, scheduled to hit the market this month.
One of them is being auctioned off by Triumph, via the Mecum sale in Monterey in August, to benefit a non-profit dedicated to troubled youngsters. The California-based organization is called Boys Republic, and Steve McQueen himself was a 1946 alumnus of the group.
The bike to be sold is serial number 0278, a number that matches the number plate McQueen used on his bike in the 1964 International Six Days Trial. Moreover, it is being sold with a unique certificate of authenticity with the signatures of Steve’s son, Chad, and Triumph CEO Nick Bloor.
As an extra perk, the buyer of the motorcycle will also receive an invitation to the annual dinner of the Steve McQueen Car and Motorcycle Show.
Other than that, the bike is just like the other 999 slotted for production. It was designed to be reminiscent of the Triumph TR used in the 1963 movie The Great Escape, and comes powered by a 1200cc Bonneville twin engine.
The two-wheeler comes painted in Competition Green, like all others of its breed, but also boasts gold lining and heritage Triumph logos. Engine protection dresser bars, pressed aluminum radiator guard with laser etched Triumph branding, and a brown bench seat with stitched ribbing are also part of the deal.
Unlike the bike it is inspired by though, this one comes with a few modern-day appointments, including LED lighting, the My Triumph connectivity system, keyless ignition, and single-button cruise control.
There is no estimate on how much the motorcycle is expected to fetch during the auction, but it will probably be more than the $16,400 the bike maker is asking for the rest of the bikes in the series.
Born at a time when World War II was raging all across the world, the FL line of motorcycles turned out to be a hit in the Harley-Davidson portfolio. Little did the bike maker know however that many decades after its introduction, this line of Knuckleheads will be worth many times over their original money.
The FL you’re looking at, sporting a bit more chrome than what the bike maker offered back then, comes from the year immediately after the end of the war. It looks so shiny and new thanks to a restoration process it went through about a quarter of a century ago. A restoration process that also helped significantly increase its value.
You see, back when it was made alongside close to 4,000 others of its kind, the two-wheeler had an MSRP of just $465. Adjusted for inflation, that would be around $6,200 in today’s money. Still a very, very long way from the sum it just sold for last week.
The bike was listed on the massive lot that went under the hammer during the huge Mecum motorcycle auction in Las Vegas. This particular FL shares the second position on the podium for most expensive bikes sold there with an E model from 1943, behind the champion of the event, the $297,000 Strap Tank.
$220,000 is how much someone paid for the FL, which would be 473 times more than its original price back in 1946, or 35 times more if we do the math with the inflation-adjusted amount.
Although we’re not specifically informed of this, we reckon the 74 cubic inch engine linked to a four speed transmission is still in working order, but do not expect this motorcycle to take to the roads anytime soon. That’s because there are only two reasons people generally pay this much for a bike this old: included it in a collection, or waiting for its value to increase some more so it could be sold for a profit.
It’s been a hell of a ride for those taking part last weekend in the massive motorcycle auction in Las Vegas. The top highest-selling two-wheelers, for instance, were responsible for getting close to two million dollars combined, in a bidding frenzy that seemed to have had no limit.
Out of this select team of ten motorcycles, eight of them were Harley-Davidsons, including the champion when it comes to money earned, the $297,000 Strap Tank. The other two were a Vincent Black Shadow from 1953 (sold for $165,000), and this here 1903 Indian that went for $143,000.
For all intents and purposes, the Indian is the oldest in this select lot. What’s more important is that for the first 62 years of its life, from 1903 to 1965, it was owned by the same guy, a California motorcycle racer by the name Gus Cheleini.
Looking probably just as good as it did 118 years ago when it was made, the motorcycle comes in a dark shade of blue and it is equipped with a tiny 13ci engine and an atmospheric valve that is still working, hinting according to auction house Mecum, which handled the sale of the two-wheeler, that the bike could be “started and ridden.”
Part of a select and limited number of bikes made under the Indian name that year, it still wears the first name of the company, Hendee Manufacturing, and features the large gas tank on the rear fender that earned it and its breed the nickname Camelback.
Since the death of its first owner, the Indian changed hands a few more times, and was featured in The Classic MotorCycle in 1988, but mostly spent its time out of sight. It’s unclear what the future holds for it, as we are not told who purchased it, but chances are we’ll get to see it again at a similar auction in the not-so-distant future.