Reader David N went out to Ocala, Florida to check out the J. Wood & Co auction of Earl’s Cycle Center inventory (I previewed it here) and took the time to share his experience with all of you:
I arrived more than an hour late for the first day of the Jerry Wood 3-day auction at Earl’s Cycle Shop. My tardiness was poor planning on my part but also stemmed from the promoter’s complicated listing. The auctioneer’s home page listed the event at 2420 N Pine Street, Ocala Florida then also at 14800 Magnolia Ave – one had to dig down for details: “The auction will be on March 13, 14 and 15 at both locations during Daytona bike week and we may get a third location to display this amazing collection. We will have two inspection days, March 11 and 12 at the shop location at 2420 N. Pine Ave (Rt441) in Ocala just north of the city. During that inspection, we will have registration and a catalog that will reveal the other locations.”
On the way there, I called for better directions, but only a machine answered. The outgoing message gave no further directions.
Turned out, preview and early registration was at Earl’s, which for GPS users was actually 2420 NW Pine Ave in Ocala. Yes, it makes a difference. Days 1 & 2 were at 14800 N Magnolia Ave but that is not in Ocala. It was in Citra – a town next door. Day 3 was back at Earl’s. I only attended the first day. The remaining days were largely projects. I mean, real projects! Maybe someone else can give a report.
I’ve been to Earl’s once before but when I arrived today, the auction was not there. I found the auction in Citra but only after my GPS directed me elsewhere. So, by the time I arrived, I was very late, and my mood was sour. Thankfully, I did not miss much as the sale bikes were just beginning. I was glad for that. One point for Jerry Wood having begun the auction with parts lots is that late comers like me might arrive for the bikes. Parking was easy too! The actual event was run well.
Jerry Wood has been auctioning motorcycles since dirt was invented. This event harkened back his Bikeweek auctions at the Armory. He also had displays at the VJMC and AMCA National meets. So, the turnout was good, very good indeed.
That said, I’m not a big fan. I think the condition reports were suspect, both then and now. I tested a few bikes to see if they were stuck. The auctioneer said the engine was stuck each time and only immediately after I checked myself. This happened first with a 260 Benelli Mojave and then with a Yamaha Big Bear Scrambler, but that may have been a coincidence.
The auctioneer joked it off. “This is Florida, it doesn’t take much to stick, just oil it up and it will spin free.” The so-called “very clean bikes – looks like it was never ridden” were not so very clean. The stories were mostly, well stories, but that’s OK. In person, these bikes speak for themselves, but I pity the internet bidders. Events like this must be attended in person.
I wanted to see the RE-5. It was my reason for coming. I saw this bike in person some years before but it did not come home with me then or this day. It sold for $3,750. I was not a bidder. I don’t know if the engine was free. That’s an important detail with these. The propellers are not easily rebuilt, if at all!
On some bikes, the auctioneer was the high bidder complete with his own bidder’s number. Yes, the bidder was the guy in the staff shirt holding the flag. I’m turned off by this because I can’t know. Am I bidding against the house? Is there a secret reserve? Is the auctioneer bidding for a larger commission? The auctioneer is the seller’s agent. On the other hand, if the auctioneer’s bid was for an absentee or phone bidder, that was far from obvious. The appearances chill my bidding. [Editor’s Note: I’ve never encountered this before, and I can’t believe any one thought it was appropriate.]
I think auctioneers and their staff should be barred from bidding in their own auctions. If they want to bid, then don’t run the auction. Don’t play both sides. Bid or sell, but not both.
Prices in general were very high, which is a good thing because I did not come home with more bikes! I need more bikes like a hole in the head! It also means my own bikes (and yours) may have gotten more valuable. In a less self-serving note, the results and turnout indicated vibrant enthusiasm for vintage bikes, and that’s all good!