Two weekends from now, Bonhams is auctioning off 451 lots as part of their Autumn Stafford Sale at the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show in Stafford, England. As you’d expect, there’s a lot of cool old British metal, as well as some interesting exports that American never got to officially enjoy. Here’s a few of my favorites.
137 of the lots aren’t even motorcycles, they’re just cool collectibles or spare parts, like this NOS factory spares kit for a Yamaha TR2 racer which includes a crankshaft, two cylinder heads, four cylinder barrels, front and rear brake shoes, spark plugs, clutch plates, gaskets and more.
Sinclair C5, year unknown – an “electrically assisted pedal cycle”, the C5 was very much ahead of its time. It was a financial failure that has evolved into a cult classic. Simply put, battery tech wasn’t good enough at the time so the top speed was 15 miles per hour and the range was 20 miles. 14,000 were built but just 5,000 were sold before Sinclair Vehicles went bankrupt. This example is offered with no reserve and is going to need some work, but I can’t help sharing such an oddity.
Check out this period TV ad:
1971 Triumph TR6P Police – estimated to sell between $6,200-$8,600, offered with no reserve. I love “service” bikes. It’s unknown if this was a private conversion or if it actually serviced as a police bike, but either way I think it’s cool!
1981 BMW R80RT Paramedic Motorcycle – estimated to sell between $1,800-$3,100. Another service bike, this R80RT used to be a first-response machine that could get a paramedic on site faster than a traditional ambulance.
1968 Triumph 650cc 6T Saint – estimated to sell between $7,400-$12,000, offered with no reserve. Alright, last service bike. This is a 6T Thunderbird, the police version of which was called the Saint. Depending on who you ask, it was either a basic name or an acronym for Stop Anything In No Time. Mounted on the tank is a radio phone, plus you’ve got hard bags and leg fairings. This is one of 20 bikes provided by the Harvey owen dealership in south London to the Metropolitan Police.
1960 Viscount – estimated to sell between $68,000-$80,000. Viscount was one of a handful of companies that tried to create machines with Vincent motors. This is a “Somerton Viscount”, and Bonhams states that production estimates range from just “one” to “5 or 6”. This features a hopped-up Black Shadow motor, and it set a AMA land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2013. The record of 131.68 miles per hour is claimed to still stand in the 1000 MPS-VG (Modified Partial Streamline Vintage Gas) class.
The Peril Speed Equipe – estimated to sell between $15,000-$20,000. Bill Bragg was a carpenter who enjoyed motorcycle racing in his free time. He developed a passion for quarter-mile sprints, and according to Bonhams he is credited with building the first double-engine sprint bike. It wasn’t particularly successful, so he went back to a more traditional layout of one motor, specifically with a Triumph 650cc powerplant. He built his own frame and built a fairing out of a P51 Mustang drop fuel tank – common in the US but a first in the UK – and created what was dubbed the Yellow Peril. This led to a team of Perils – Scarlet Peril used a swingarm rear suspension and Amal TT carbs but it wasn’t any faster than Yellow, so the Blue Peril got a Shorrock supercharger. There’s also a Silver Peril, but the location of that bike is currently unknown.
You should check out the listing above as it has a great recollection of Bragg’s story, as well as individual photos of each bike! This collection of bikes was on display at the London Motorcycle Museum from 2011 to just about now.
1981 Triumph TS8-1 Prototype – estimated to sell between $9,900-$17,000. A machine I had never heard of before, the TS8-1 was a prototype Triumph offered at the 1981 Earl’s Court Motorcycle Show. The name highlighted usage of a eight-valve head in a sport-tourer designed to take on the BMW R100RT. From Save the Triumph Bonneville: The Inside Story of the Meriden Workers’ Co-op:
“All the show models looked impressive except the TS8-1 Triumph flagship model, which was still under construction. Dyson’s team had already been working around the clock for nearly a week, and it was looking more and more unlikely that it would be ready for the show. To provide for this eventuality and avoid embarrassment, all Triumph promotional information was prepared without reference to the TS8-1 flagship.”
In fact, the bike wasn’t even in the booth for the first day of show, but it made quite a stir when it appeared in day 2. This prototype was acquired by Bill Crosby, the eventual founder of the London Motorcycle Museum. It shows all of one mile on the odometer from being pushed around, and Bonhams is not aware of any road tests by a motorcycling mag.
Lastly, my favorite machine: 1970 Beeline Yamaha 97cc Sprinter – estimated to sell between $3,700-$4,900. Built with a Sondel frame housing a Yamaha YL1 97cc twin, this used to be the 100cc class world record holder in standing quarter mile (15.545 seconds/57.9 mph). The motor has a factory race kit, and it revs to 14,500 rpm! It weighs just 110 pounds.
There are plenty of other cool bikes: a beautiful scooter from a company I’ve never heard of before (Dürkopp), an Egli-framed BSA Rocket III prototype engine, a Honda CB400F that won the 1977 Isle of Man Formula 3 race, a Mondial Piega, and plenty more…
Click here to check out the full list – what are your favorites?