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Jalbert Collection to be Auctioned in Las Vegas

James Jalbert

An important collection of classic American motorcycles will be part of Bonhams’ world-renowned Las Vegas motorcycle auction this January. Complementing the headlining models from Britain and Italy — most notably Vincent, Brough Superior, Ducati and MV Agusta — the New England collection of Indian, Harley-Davidson, Henderson and Excelsior comes from the private collection of noted businessman James Jalbert.

Known for growing a small, family-run airport taxi service into one of the northeast’s leading transportation companies, C&J Bus Lines, Jim Jalbert’s passion for motorcycles started, like many enthusiasts, at childhood. As a collector, he focused on American motorcycles with an emphasis on the Massachusetts-made Indian marque and, at one point, saw his collection grow to more than 30 machines.

The collection, which Bonhams will have the privilege of representing, boasts examples of Indian from the 1920s up to the firm’s closing in the 1950s. Included are models of Chief, Four, Scout, Sport Scout, Prince, Arrow and US Military 741. From street and racing versions to original condition and expertly restored award-winners, the selection is impressive. Additionally, all the proceeds from the 1941 Army model will be donated to the Veterans Count charity, the philanthropic arm of Easterseals Military and Veteran Services.

Two stars of the collection that are not Indians are a 1929 Henderson Four and 1929 Excelsior Super X, both iconic and highly sought after American models from the golden age of motorcycling.

As for Harley-Davidson, represented are models that include a newly restored Servi-Car and Jim’s favorite rider, what he lovingly calls “Elvis” — a 1966 FLH Electra Glide Shovelhead. Also included from the Jalbert Collection is related memorabilia, including an original lighted Indian dealership sign. To learn more about the Jalbert Collection and other incredible motorcycles headed to the Thursday, Jan. 25 auction at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, visit

2018 Las Vegas Motorcycle Auctions Gearing Up

2018 Motorcycle Auctions

Bonhams and Mecum Auctions are both gearing up for the 2018 Las Vegas motorcycle auctions. Bonahms’ one-day event happens Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, at the Rio Hotel & Casino, while Mecum will hold an expanded five-day auction extravaganza starting on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and ending Saturday, Jan. 27, at South Point Hotel & Casino. Bonhams has yet to release a full consignment list, but in keeping with their previous Las Vegas auctions we anticipate a 250- to 300-strong list of vintage bikes. Mecum, on the other hand, plans to sell an incredible 1,750 motorcycles, a huge jump up from the 1,000 bikes consigned for last year’s four-day event. It will be interesting to see how that translates dollar-wise. Last year, Mecum reported total sales of $13.7 million. Assuming the 2018 offerings are of similar value, the potential is there for total sales topping $23 million. Bonhams’ 2017 sales were an estimated $4 million, with 240 bikes sold, but bikes at Bonhams tended to sell for more, selling at an average price of $16,667 versus the $13,700 average at Mecum.

Headlining Bonhams’ auction is the ex-Jack Ehret 1951 Vincent Black Lightning (below), which Ehret rode to take the Australian Land Speed Record in 1953 at 141.509mph. Originally owned by Australian rider Tony McAlpine, who assembled the bike himself while working at Vincent, the Ehret Vincent was clocked at 130mph running alongside — and out-accelerating — the legendary Gunga Din, perhaps the most famous of all Vincents and the test bed for the Vincent Black Shadow and Lightning. Showing 8,686 kilometers on its Smiths Chronometric speedometer (all of them race miles), the Vincent was sympathetically restored by renowned Vincent expert Patrick Godet in France and is cosmetically completely original and as last raced by Ehret. Easily the most historically important bike to be offered at the 2018 Vegas auctions, it is expected to sell for $500,000-plus.

Black Lightning

Mecum has several headliners in its 1,750-strong portfolio, including a bike we’ve always wanted to ride, a 1980 Mystery Ship. Designed by Craig Vetter of Triumph Hurricane and Vetter Fairing fame, only 10 of the Kawasaki KZ1000-powered Mystery Ships were built, the one on offer being No. 5. One of dozens of bikes being sold from the Bob Weaver Collection, the offered Mystery Ship shows a scant 48 miles on the odometer. It’s in as-new condition, and perfect in every way. Also at Mecum is another classic we’d like to ride, a 1941 Indian Four, the last of Indian’s great inline fours and this one looking particularly grand in its two-tone peach and red color scheme.

Viewed as an indicator of vintage bike values in the U.S., the Vegas auctions are closely watched by buyers and sellers for signs of where the market is moving.

1,800 Vintage Motorcycles Headed for Auction in Florida

1950's Triumph Speed Twin

Early ‘50s Triumph Speed Twin has wrong Amal Concentric carburetor but looks complete. Photo courtesy J. Wood & Company

An unbelievable 1,800 vintage motorcycles — all belonging to one man — will be auctioned off by J. Wood & Company in a giant three-day event, March 13-15, 2018, in Ocala, Florida. “This is the largest single consignor motorcycle collection that’s ever been offered at a no-reserve auction that I know of,” says auctioneer Jerry Wood. “The largest amount are late 1960s and early 1970s Japanese machines, but there are lots of early Superbikes including a lot of single cam K0 and K1 Honda CB750s.” The collection includes a great many British bikes as well, including a 1973 Triumph Hurricane showing an indicated — and believed original — 510 miles.

According to Wood, the owner’s father was in the motorcycle business decades ago selling BSA, Triumph and Norton. When Honda came along, he started selling them, as well. In 1978 the family moved to Ocala and opened Earl’s Cycle Center. “Earl Jr. loved the motorcycles, but Earl Sr. was there to tell him ‘you can’t keep them all.’ After Earl Sr. passed away in 1998, Earl Jr. started taking motorcycles that he took in trade home with him. He also attended auctions and bought everything he could afford,” Wood says. 

Wood says the bikes range in condition from very good to project/salvage, and the collection also includes a huge inventory of NOS parts and “literally tons” of used parts. Wood says that many of the bikes are jammed into sheds, trailers and storage containers on the owner’s property, with many ultimately left outside.

It’s hard to predict results without having seen the bikes firsthand (potential bidders will be able to examine the collection March 11 and 12), but odds are this auction will generate every bit as much interest as J. Wood’s wild 2015 auction in Cuba, Missouri, one of the biggest horde of old bikes ever auctioned prior to the upcoming Ocala auction.

Rare Bikes Head to Auction at Bonhams' 2017 Stafford Sale

Freddie Firth Velocette

Ex-Freddie Firth 1949 World Championship-winning Velocette at Bonhams' 2017 Stafford Sale. Photos courtesy Bonhams Auctions.

Rarity rules the day at this year’s annual Stafford Sale, Sunday, April 23, with Bonhams set to auction a bevy of extremely rare and valuable vintage motorcycles. Included in this year’s sale are no less than a 1973 MV Agusta 750S (estimated hammer price, $77,000-$220,000), a 1937 Matchless 1,000cc Model X ($33,000-$42,000), a 1930 Brough Superior 680 ($130,000-$180,000), a fantastic barn find 1949 Vincent White Shadow ($64,000-$77,000) and the works 1948 Velocette KTT 348cc double overhead cam single that Freddie Firth rode to victory in the 1949 World Championship and the 1948 and 1949 Isle of Man Junior TT ($150,000-$190,000). Check out full auction details at Bonhams.

1949 Vincent White Shadow

Barn find 1949 Vincent is one of only 16 White Shadows made.

Project 1970 Honda CB350 Sells for $5,500 at Bonhams’ Vegas Auction


The Motorcycle Classics 1970 Honda CB350 sold for $5,500 at Bonhams. Photo by the Motorcycle Classics staff

As it usually does, the annual Las Vegas classic motorcycle auctions yielded more than a few surprises. The biggest sale of the January event was over at Mecum, where, underscoring increasing interest in original condition machines, a 1912 Henderson Four sold for a stunning $490,000, a price that climbs to well over $500,000 once the buyer’s fee, typically 5-10 percent, is added. Bonham’s top sale of the event was a 1914 Feilbach 10 horsepower Limited that sold for $195,000. Assembled from leftover parts following the factory’s 1914 closure, it was owned by the Feilbach family until the 1980s, giving it a very unique history.

Mecum reported a 92 percent sell-through, while Bonhams reported 70 percent. And while Mecum was clearly the big winner in terms of total dollars — a reported $13.7 million versus an estimated $4 million at Bonhams — those numbers don’t tell the full story, as Mecum’s four-day event rolled some 1,000 bikes across the block versus some 240 at Bonhams. Mecum’s top 10 sellers achieved a combined $1,466,000, while Bonhams’ top 10 achieved a combined $1,151,000, punctuating the impact of the Henderson sale at Mecum, where the next highest sale was $150,000 — for another Henderson, this time a restored 1913 Four. The next highest sale at Bonhams — also at $150,000 — was a 1955 Vincent Series D Black Knight. On the other end of the spectrum, at Mecum somebody got a very nice 1973 Suzuki Titan T500 for $1,700, while at Bonhams somebody paid similar money for a fantastic 1974 Honda CR125 Elsinore equipped with quality performance modifications you couldn’t possibly duplicate for the selling price.

Yet in our opinion the biggest sale of the event was the $5,500 achieved for the Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350, to our knowledge the highest price ever paid for a 1970 Honda CB350. And while we’d argue that it wasn’t your average CB350, built to be a daily rider with upgrades like electronic ignition, improved suspension and more, in this case the winning bid wasn’t all about the bike.

Interest in the Honda was high in no small part thanks to our promise to donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Rider Benevolent Fund, which exists to aid injured riders. We were immeasurably aided in our effort thanks to Bonhams, which graciously offered to forego normal selling fees to ensure that all the proceeds from the sale went to AHRMA, and Motorcycle Shippers  who shipped the bike to Vegas and Federal Motorcycle Transport who shipped the bike free of charge to its new owner. The interest our Honda generated was more than a little satisfying, and we were glad for the opportunity to give something tangible back to the vintage motorcycle community. MC

1980 Ducati 900SS at Bonhams' 2017 Vegas Auction

1980 Ducati 900SS

Restored 1980 Ducati 900SS is projected to sell for $38,000-$42,000. Photos courtesy Bonhams Auctions.

Italian classics continue to rise in value, with once affordable exotica increasingly fetching eye-watering money. Case in point is this beautiful 1980 Ducati 900SS scheduled to go on the block at Bonhams’ Las Vegas auction Thursday. Bonhams’ pre-sale estimate on this bike, fully restored with 28,031 miles showing on the clock, is $38,000-$42,000. Likewise, an earlier 1975 750SS is expected to fetch $40,000-$45,000, while a coveted 1974 750SS “green frame” — rattled canned red by an owner in the 1970s and needing recommissioning — is expected to bid to $65,000-$85,000.

1975 Ducati 750SS

This 1975 Ducati 750SS is expected to bring $40,000-$45,000 at Bonhams’ 2017 Las Vegas auction.

1974 Ducati 750SS green frame

A repainted 1974 Ducati 750SS “green frame” needing work is expected to bring $65,000-$85,000.

Bonhams is also auctioning the Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350, the 1970 Honda we brought back to life in 2016. That bike is projected to sell for $5,000-$7,000, which, if it does, would be something of a record for the model. We’re hoping it does in fact draw that kind of money, because 100 percent of the sale proceeds are going to the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association Rider Benevolent Fund, which supports AHRMA racers unfortunate enough to crash during a race, supplying needed cash for medical bills.

Motorcycle Classics Project Honda CB350

Bonhams’ presale estimate on our 1970 Honda CB350 is $5,000-$7,000. Photo by Richard Backus.

Mecum's 2017 Las Vegas Auction: 1977 Harley-Davidson MX250

Harley-Davidson MX250

This Harley-Davidson MX250 is probably the most original youll find, and will be offered at Mecum’s Las Vegas auction, Jan. 25-28. Photo courtesy Mecum Auctions.

Harley-Davidson isn’t particularly known for dirt bikes, but at one time the Bar and Shield folks put serious effort into developing seriously competent offroad machines. Leaning on its Italian division, Aermacchi, in 1977 Harley came up with the MX250, a full-on competition machine that took on the best and won.

Unfortunately, it didn’t win enough to satisfy the brass in Milwaukee, so after two short years of production the MX250 was dropped, with fewer than 1,000 believed built between 1977 and 1978. Mecum says this first-year bike, from a major East Coast collection, is probably the most original MX250 extant. Unraced, unabused and, Mecum says, nearly unused, it’s a time warp machine in essentially as-new condition. Mecum doesn’t say what they think the MX250 will bring, and with survivors thin on the ground it’s hard to predict — but we don’t expect it to go cheap. For reference, a supposed zero-mile MX250 failed to sell on eBay for $14,000 a few years back, while another MX250 was recently offered privately for $9,000.