Von Dutch 500cc Triumph to sell...

 

So okay, it's a basic Triumph TR5C that wouldn't draw much more than a passing glance on pretty much any street on the planet. Except that this TR5C was painted by legendary Kustom Kulture SoCal artist and pinstriper, Kenny "Von Dutch" Howard (1929-1992).

 

Following Howard's death, the Von Dutch name was sold to a fashion house and was quickly adopted by celebs such as Justin Timberlake (who's he?), Madonna (who's she?) and someone name Britney Spears  (we've got a vague idea who she is).

 

Regardless, this bike, we're told, was destined to appear in the movie, The Great Escape, starring Steve McQueen. But for one reason or another, that never came to pass, and the motorcycle ended up in Von Dutch's L.A. studio, and languished for some years after.

 

Now Bonhams (which supplied the image) is set to sell it at its 4th Las Vegas Sale on January 9th 2014. The estimate is 12,000 - 15,000.

 

Too much for a 500cc unit Triumph? Come January, we'll see. Von Dutch is a lucrative brand, and this bike represents a significant piece of the Kenny Howard puzzle.

 

[Update: This Triumph TR6C lot went unsold]

 

 

... and a McQueen/Von Dutch Indian

 

At the same auction is this beautiful 1823 Indian Big Chief once owned by Steve McQueen and restored in 1969 by Von Dutch. Bonhams is estimating just 31,000 - 43,000 for this 74-cubic inch (1200cc) V-twin outfit, and we think that's too low. Maybe Bonhams is, once again, just being ultra conservative in order to draw in extra bidders and start a feeding frenzy.

 

Regardless, this bike, complete with a Princess sidecar, was the lynchpin of Indian's attempt to retain its diminishing customer base in the wake of ever cheaper cars from the likes of Henry Ford.

 

The bike was based on the 61-cubic inch, 42-degree, 1922 sidevalve Indian Chief designed by Charles Franklin. Indian's philosophy at the time was "There's no replacement for displacement", so they bored and stroked the Chief and came up with the Big Chief.

 

Features include twin camshafts, helical primary gears and an oil-bath clutch. The horsepower was around 34. The bike was, allegedly, capable of 90mph. But other Indian Big Chief owners will tell you that around 75mph was more realistic.

 

Following McQueen's death (7th November 1980), the bike passed through his estate and was subsequently sold by Bonhams at the firm's Imperial Palace Sale in Las Vegas, November 1984.

 

Interestingly, amusingly, and lucratively, Von Dutch saw fir to laqcuer one of his business cards to the "dashboard" on the sidecar. Overall, the condition is said to be very good, but with a few minor age-related blisters and blemishes.

 

[Update: This bike and sidecar sold for a world record, $126,000/76,785]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.bonhams.com

 

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