A toy and board game collection belonging to the estate of US Tycoon Malcolm Forbes has been auctioned by Sotheby's in New York raking in a record $2.3million (£1.4million)—but around $2.7million short of expectations.
Among the sale items was the above assortment of motorcycles which fetched $15,000. Forbes, who died in 1990 aged 71, had been collecting the toys for over 40 years. The most expensive single item in the sale was a model of the 1915 Lusitania which sold for $194,500—a record for a toy boat.
— Del Monte
Some of you will
be saddened to hear
of the passing of
Don Van Vliet, aka
Back in the late 1960s, if you had a copy of Frank Zappa's Hot Rats in your record collection, it was odds-on you also had a copy of Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica—and probably the soundtrack to Easyrider.
For all his faults—and apparently their were many—Beefheart was a true innovator and a prince, if not the king, of rock'n'roll psychedelia, a musical counter-culture that included Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Soft Machine, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and (perhaps most famously, if not definitively) the Beatles.
Writer, singer, songwriter, and (more latterly) a painter, Beefheart—aided and abetted by his Magic Band—were hugely influential across dozens of musical genres including soul, pop, folk and jazz.
In later life, the Captain had been suffering from multiple sclerosis which eventually brought him down. He died on 17th December 2010 in California aged 69.
— The Third Man
Bonhams has released details of two more very desirable motorcycles to be sold at their inaugural Las Vegas auction on 6th January 2011.
The first is Lot 267, a 1916 Excelsior "Big Valve X" board track racer (immediately above) still in its original factory paint and carrying engine number A1208, and frame number 140000A1202. These 61 cubic inch V-Twins (1000cc) were produced from 1915 to 1929 and were capable of around 100mph. It's said that only a handful have survived.
There are no details of the seller, except to say that the bike is from "a large Texan collection". The estimate is $140,000-$150,000.
The second machine is
Lot 214, a 1901
F-Head "Camel Back" Indian also from Texas, this from the collection of the late Otis Chandler (both pictures courtesy of Bonhams, incidentally). The estimate is $90,000-$110,000. The Chandler collection boasts 23 motorcycles including a rare 1911 Curtiss Marvel Single 500 (not shown).
This auction is likely to be one of the most significant in Bonhams history, and the firm is anticipating a large attendance and huge interest worldwide. If you feel like getting away from the British cold and snow, you can attend in person at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino which you can find on The Strip at Las Vegas. Better raid the piggy bank. This auction is likely to push some very high numbers.
— Del Monte
The bike trade is in serious trouble with the list of rapidly failing dealerships now including Thames Valley Harley-Davidson in Slough, Berkshire, and Dockgate 20 Harley-Davidson in Southampton. This news comes just a week or so after it was announced that Stratstone Harley-Davidson in Chingford, North London will be closing on 22nd December making 17 staff redundant (see story below).
The news is naturally a serious blow for all those who've just lost their job (in some instances with about 10 minutes notice, we hear). But wasn't Harley's expansion, like the booming Irish economy, always a little unreal?
Some of us can well remember a time when, if you wanted a Hog, you went either to Fred Warr in Chelsea, or Three Legged Cross in Dorset. But in recent years HD dealerships have been colonising the shires like Japanese knotweed leading, arguably, to massive corporate over-exposure and a corresponding diminution of the brand's cachet. We certainly liked it better when Harleys were rare—which is exactly what they might become again if the company doesn't rapidly get its act together and reign in its huge debts.
Meanwhile, it's not clear what the warranty position is with regard to Thames Valley and Dockgate HD. Presumably HD UK will see that they're honoured, but there are almost certainly other issues of undelivered bikes, deposits, etc that need to be resolved.
Better batten down the financial hatches out there. We think there's a major financial hurricane on the way that's yet to make landfall.
Footnote: A couple of hours after Harley-Davidson UK issued the statement that Dockgate 20 Harley-Davidson (owners of Thames Valley Harley-Davidson) had gone into administration, it was announced that the press release had been issued "in error".
Meanwhile, neither dealership was answering the phones (one had been closed for a couple of weeks for "stock taking"). Other enquiries suggest that there's a lot more going on here other than poor sales. We'd love to tell you what we've heard, but the legal ramifications could be considerable. But if we manage to turn it inside out, we'll pass the word.
— The Third Man
That's the word on the street, anyway, spoken (we hear) at a recent Clarence House reception. Apparently, the heir to the British throne is not amused about "thrill seeking" sons Williams and Harry, both of whom own motorcycles and thrash them regularly.
"It's the car drivers," lamented Charles. "It's about them not being able to see you."
You can understand his concerns, mind. After pulling stunts with RAF helicopters and serving on the Afghan front line, not to mention being two of the country's top terrorist targets, riding motorcycles on the highways and byways of the realm might well be considered tantamount to suicide.
Still, we won't hear a bad word said about Charlie. Having waited all his life to get a perch on the throne, the man's patience is legendary, and if anyone's earned the right to the occasional public whinge, it's got to be the man who would be king.
Prince William rides a Ducati, incidentally, while Prince Harry rides a Triumph. You'd think they'd at least have the regal decency to own Royal Enfields. But still, having a biker as the Head of State is probably no bad thing. It just might help bring some fresh blood into the diminishing biking community, even if most of that blood will be red rather than blue.
Meanwhile, the next time you're out on your Sunday biking constitutional, if you see a couple of tearaways come hurtling past with half a dozen armed coppers desperately trying to keep pace, remember to doff your lid. It might just be Harry and Bill.
On Wednesday 16th December 2010 a prototype Brough Superior goes under the hammer in New York at the auction house of Phillips de Pury and is expected to smash the previous £286,000 record for the marque. The estimate for this latest contender is £380,000.
The bike, an SS100 “Alpine Grand Sport”, was built in 1925 by George Brough for the 1925 8-Day Austrian Alpine Trial and was prepared by Chief Engineer Harold “Oily” Karslake.
The provenance of this machine is said to be "unimpeachable" with
various documentation including George Brough's 1925 International Travelling pass (issued by the RAC),
a letter from Karslake, and numerous photographs, some of which show George Brough himself riding the bike.
Modifications to the motorcycle include a Bonniksen time and trip speedometer, Rexine panniers and tuning for higher altitudes. The seller of the bike is Michael FitzSimons who has owned it for 25 years.
But what's the highest price ever paid for a motorcycle of any type? That would be on the 12th July 2008 when a 1915 Cyclone board track racer fetched $520,000 at MidAmerica's Inaugural Monterey Motorcycle Auction in Monterey, California.
— Girl Happy
She was nabbed driving at 79mph in a 50mph limit and was let off by the copper with the radar gun.
Later, however, he grassed her up to his inspector, and Helen Chamberlain, a superintendent with the Notts Constabulary was prosecuted. Naturally, she denied the charge and claimed the radar gun was at fault. And naturally she couldn't tell the difference between almost 80mph and 50mph (or even 60mph which, she claimed, was what she believed the limit to be). But on the day of the trial she changed her plea, fessed up and threw herself at the mercy of the Court.
The incident happened in July 2009 on the A6097 in Nottinghamshire between Epperstone and Oxton. The beak gave her a £710 fine (with £800 costs), six points on her licence, and expressed dismay at how many police officers let each other off with a caution. She managed to escape a ban, however, because it would "cause her hardship".
But what made her hold out until the last moment before giving it up? Who knows? Maybe one of the haloes on the front of her Audi went to her head. That probably explains it.
Here's the story. The Euroheads want to pool motoring databases belonging to the 27 member states, but Britain has torpedoed the plan—not through any sense of duty or care towards us long-suffering Brits, but simply because it might cost too much, increase bureaucracy and could lead to all kinds of nasty legal complications.
The Euro idea is to make it easier for national police forces to collect motoring fines across the continent. Too many people, we hear, are getting away with speeding, driving-whilst-under-the-influence-of-a-mobile-phone and—oh oh—even riding motorcycles without crash helmets.
For years, continental on-the-spot fines have been commonplace (even when you didn't actually break the law but were simply guilty of being a soft-target Brit abroad). But the EC wants to make it easier for you to get nicked-by-camera in Johnny Foreigner's back yard, and make it easier still to squeeze the money from your wallet when you return to Blighty.
Is it any wonder that so many people using the roads these days are doing so with dodgy licences, forged insurance certificates and bogus registration documents? We're not necessarily condoning it, mind. But we've never had much time for trial-by-camera and ain't going to hang anyone out to dry for doing what little they can to balance the scales of justice.
— Sam 7
They're at it again. The All-Party Transport Select Committee. And this time, it's that old chestnut, drinking and driving.
At present, the law allows for 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. The self-appointed ones now want to drop that by 2015 to only 20 milligrams.
However, the human body apparently produces a limited amount of alcohol of its own (but nowhere near enough as far as we're concerned) which would effectively mean that some of us could be permanently drunk as Lords in the eyes of the law, even when strictly teetotal.
That aside, the Westminster do-gooders would also like to see increased police powers including random road blocks (which happen anyway under the widely-discredited Prevention of Terrorism Act), and considerably stiffer sentences.
If all this new age puritanism becomes law, it will mean that the rozzers will soon be empowered to stop and ask if you're carrying any Semtex, guns, nuclear material, pipe bombs and/or weapons of mass destruction, and while you're thinking about all that, Sir, would you mind blowing into this little bag and keep blowing until we tell you to stop?
On a more serious note, excess drinking and driving is still a social issue most of us can live (and die) without. But with this continued state-sanctioned assault on perfectly normal (and even necessary) human vice, is it any wonder than Britain is shedding pubs at the rate of around 40 per week, depending on which side of Watford Gap you happen to be?
More to the point, statistically speaking it's not the mobile drunks who are likely to mark your card; it's the stone cold sober dickheads driving like bloody maniacs during the morning and afternoon rush hours, or at pretty much any time of the day on any country lane throughout the realm. Keep that in mind the next time you're blowing into that fabled little bag while officer number two is checking that you're properly displaying your free road tax disc.
Arriving just in time for Christmas, Burton Bike Bits are expecting the imminent arrival of a container filled with British motorcycle spares trawled from around the USA. The haul includes:
Triumph Tiger cub frames (Standard & Heavyweight)
BSA B25 Crankshafts (Genuine NOS)
Triumph T100 Unit Cylinder Heads
Various Triumph TRW Spares (Genuine NOS)
Triumph T140 Crankshafts (Genuine NOS)
Triumph Trident Oil pump Assemblies (Genuine NOS)
With 2010 coming to a close, you're running out of delivery time. But no doubt you can make a buy-now-collect-later deal to avoid the New Year increase of VAT from 17/5% to 20%.
— Del Monte
Talk to most Harley-Davidson dealers and they'll probably tell you that things are ticking along okay (notwithstanding Stratstone Harley Davidson in Chingford, North London who have just made their 17 staff redundant and will be shutting up shop on December 22nd 2010 as part of a rationalisation programme).
But few dealers, if any, would have known about the $2.3billion dollar "short-term" loan from the US federal government that kept the firm from sinking without trace. It happened back in 2008-2009, but has only just come to light. The "secret deal" is said to be part of a package of loans drawn from a $3.3billion dollar fund that also benefited McDonalds, the Ford Motor Company and banking firms such as Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley.
Most of the loans are said to have been repaid, but US consumer groups are furious that Washington covertly handed over huge numbers of greenbacks to multinational giants whilst ignoring the plight of taxpayers struggling to deal with everyday domestic financial meltdown.
However, the fact is the around 1 in 10 jobs in the US are directly or indirectly linked to the automotive sector, which saw Ford, General Motors and Chrysler teetering on brink of collapse (and saw Hummer disappear as a brand after a Chinese bail-out deal collapsed).
Meanwhile, Harley is increasingly concerned that its core market of predominately middle aged males is ageing at an unsustainable rate thereby undermining its recovery program.
That aside, if you're looking for a new Harley, you'll be heartened to hear that prices on many models have been either frozen or cut for 2011. But we think there are more bargains to be had in the new year when it seems likely that the still developing financial climate will make this currently "unseasonal" December 2010 cold snap look like a heat wave.
Not that you should forget to buy British, of course.
— The Third Man
Andrew Greenwood has announced a date change to the ‘Real Classic’ Malvern Classic Bike Show. It was to be held on Sunday 10th April 2011, but is being moved to Sunday 17th April 2011. The venue is unchanged at The Three Counties Showground, Malvern,
Worcestershire, WR13 6NW.
— Girl Happy
Looking to flog that Panther but can't find anyone with the readies? Better talk to Andy Tiernan because he's on the prowl for more of these big cats. In fact, he's down to his last two and likes to keep a few in stock. Doesn't seem like that long ago when you could hardly give these wonderful machines away. But Phelon & Moore's big singles are currently held in a more realistic regard, and Andy will cross your palm with an equally realistic piece of change for Model 100s, Model 120s—and pretty much anything in the Panther catalogue.
Contact Andy too if you're thinking of off-loading any war bikes, especially BSA M20s, Norton 16Hs, Matchless G3Ls, etc. Talk to him in Woodbridge, Suffolk on: 01728 724321. Or visit his website at: www.andybuysbikes.com
— Del Monte
Bonhams is continuing to stoke the fire of its premier motorcycle outing in Las Vegas on January 6th 2011 and intends to make a big impact. To that end, the firm has got no less than eight Vincents in the line-up backed by fifty Hondas, a 1961 BSA Gold Star, a 1963 Rocket Gold Star, a 1953 Ariel Square Four, a 1965 Royal Enfield Interceptor, and a 1964 Velocette Venom.
The Vincents include a barn find 1952 Chinese Red Vincent Rapide (immediately above), a 1939 HRD Meteor, and a 1952 Black Knight outfit (main image above).
The fifty Hondas, all without reserve, come from the collection of Kenneth Klem and span the years between 1963 and 1982. Models include Dreams, Step-Throughs, CB450s and CB750s. As a bonus, these bikes are said to be in original condition.
The highest selling attraction? That's still likely to be the 115-year old Hildebrand & Wolfmuller estimated to fetch between $130,000-$150,000.
— The Third Man
Researchers at Notts University have been busy testing motorcycle riding behaviour using a "state of the art" simulator and have discovered that ... wait for it ... advanced riders are safer on the road than riders who are merely experienced.
In other words, taking an intensive riding course refined over X-number of years and designed to make you more aware of issues such as road positioning, cornering techniques, observation, etc, is actually better than simply pootling around for decades at breakneck speed and always one false move away from having a sign flash up in your head reading: GAME OVER, DUDE!
We don't know how much public dosh was handed over for this incredible piece of bleedin' obvious research, but whatever it was, it was way too much. Aside from other considerations, simulators only really reveal how people behave on a simulator, and in this instance, only when riding a Triumph Daytona-based simulator (the results might have been a lot different when riding, for instance, a simulated ratty Ariel Leader or a freshly restored and too-afraid-to-scratch-the-chrome Velocette KTT).
But in the real world, there are numerous other factors at play—not least your willingness to take risks when confronted with actual (as opposed to virtual) danger. Moreover, simulated drivers tend to be a lot more predictable than most of the homicidal maniacs out there on the street.
Of course, the Institute of Advanced Motorists is milking these results for every pint they can pump. And good luck to them. Meanwhile, the streets of England are filled with thousands of rampaging students looking for even more free lunches after a lifetime of free primary and secondary school breakfasts—many of whom will go on to conduct similarly facile research of their own at great cost to the public purse.
It's nice to know where all our money's going, huh?