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Unrestored 109-year-old motorcycle sets auction record at $225,000

By July 16, 2020General Posts

by Mike Hanlon from

An extraordinary 109-year-old motorcycle that looks new but has never been restored, has sold at auction for US$225,500, setting a new world record price for a Pierce Arrow Four-cylinder motorcycle. The new record once more shows a marked trend towards complete authenticity by the motorcycle collector market, with unrestored motorcycles now fetching higher prices than bikes returned to showroom condition.

The Pierce was America’s first four-cylinder motorcycle, built to unfeasibly high standards that ultimately made it too expensive and led to its demise. Less than 500 were built between 1909 and 1914, they rarely reach auction and when they do, they invariably command high prices.

Recent Pierce Fours to sell at auction have fetched $99,000, $104,500, $115,500, $161,000 (the same bike also sold for $137,000 and $143,354) and the record for the model until a few days ago was $192,500, paid for a 1913 model that had been restored to Concours standards over 40 years and had spent most of its life in the world-renowned MC Collection of Sweden.

This latest Pierce to reach auction has a remarkable level of originality and authenticity that is almost without peer – the paint still shines like it is near new, but it is the original 109-year-old paint, testimony to the extreme quality of the Pierce marque, also known for producing some of America’s finest pioneer automobiles.

This price further confirms the trend in motorcycle collector circles towards exceptionally original motorcycles. In recent years the highest prices fetched at auction have tended to be unrestored, totally original motorcycles with their original paint.

Some perfect examples of this include:

The most valuable Crocker

The most valuable Crocker ever to sell at auction: an unrestored, totally-original 1935 61ci (1000cc) Crocker V-twin.

The most valuable vintage Harley-Davidson

The most valuable vintage Harley-Davidson ever to sell at auction: an unrestored, totally-original 1907 Harley-Davidson “strap tank” 440cc single.

The most valuable Flying Merkel

The most valuable Flying Merkel ever to sell at auction: a 1911 Flying Merkel board track racer that is “as raced” from 100 years ago

The most valuable Vincent

The most valuable Vincent ever to sell at auction: a 1951 Vincent Black Lightning Series-C that is in exactly the same condition as when it set the Australian Land Speed Record at 141.509 mph in 1952.

The most valuable Brough Superior

The most valuable Brough Superior ever to sell at auction: a 1930 Brough Superior SS100 basket case. Such is the quest for authenticity by motorcycle collectors these days, that the purchase of “basket cases” ensures that a motorcycle does not have a mix of more recent reproduction parts.

The most valuable Henderson

The most valuable Henderson ever to sell at auction: when Mecum sold this 1912 Henderson Four in 2017, it retained not only its original paint, but it also wore its original tires. This is truly a time-warp machine of similar longevity and authenticity as the Pierce and Harley Strap Tank mentioned above.