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Top ten prices at Bonhams Spring Sale

Big season-opening auction hits some spectacular highs

BONHAMS Spring Stafford Sale took place over the weekend and as usual saw some insane bidding to push bikes to record-breaking prices.

While there were cheaper lots on offer – how about a race-worn Ron Haslam helmet for £275 or an ex-Bruce Anstey, Ulster GP-winning, road-registered 2003 GSX-R1000 superstock machine at £9200 – these are the 10 most eye-wateringly expensive bikes to cross the block:

10: 1955 Vincent Black Knight & Steib 501 sidecar - £63,100

Owned by the same man since 1961, this Black Knight has been registered as a combination since it was new in 1955. Rather than being a spotless restoration it’s got the patina of a bike that’s been cared for, but used, throughout its 60-plus years of life. Let’s hope the new owner doesn’t erase all that history with a show-level rebuild.

9: 1926 Coventry-Eagle Flying 8 - £65,340

This overhead-valved, 981cc JAP-engined Coventry-Eagle would have been a true superbike when new, and like the Black Knight in 10th spot has the appealing look of being well-used. It was actually restored back in the 1980s, but more than 30 years have passed under its wheels since then.

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8 (6=): 1930 Coventry-Eagle Model F150 Flying 8 Police - £68.700

Another overhead-valve Coventry-Eagle, this time with a 996cc JAP engine rated at 30hp. This one was sold to Australia when new, becoming part of the Victoria State Police. Like the previous bike it was restored more than 30 years ago. It was reimported to the UK in 2014.

7 (6=): 1940 Indian 78CI Four - £68,700

Given the recent resurgence of Indian it’s a little surprising that the reborn firm hasn’t made more of its four-cylinder past. There’s no question that the old inline-fours like this one are among the most impressive bikes of the pre-war era. This one was restored about 16 years ago in America and comes from the Miklos Salamon collection that formed a major part of the Bonhams Spring Sale.

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6: 1950 Vincent Touring Rapide - £68,700

Another bike from the Salamon collection, this Vincent is an American-spec ‘Chinese Red’ model – one of 92 made. It came to the UK in 2011 and was bought by Salamon in 2013. The predecessor of the more famous Black Shadow and Black Lightning, the Rapide was the fastest production bike in the world when it was launched in 1946.

5: 1957 F.B Mondial 250cc Grand Prix bike - £92,220

There’s a big jump to the number 5 place, at more than £90k, but given this machine’s history it almost seems a bargain. Not only is this a genuine GP bike, but it’s a championship-winner, taking the 1957 crown with Cecil Sandford at the helm. He won both the Isle of Man TT and the Ulster GP on the machine – both were part of the year’s six-round championship.

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4: 1973 MV Agusta 750S America - £96,700

While stuff like Brough Superiors and Vincent Black Shadows have ruled the roost when it comes to auction prices in recent years, there’s perhaps a move seeing more recent models gaining traction. This MV 750S America certainly suggests so. Made in 1973 it’s a youngster compared to many of the bikes at the Bonhams sale, although with an engine that’s directly derived from MV’s GP racers, the 750S was always a seriously expensive piece of kit. Another of Miklos Salamon’s bikes, this one came to the UK from Spain in 2014.

3: 1974 Ducati 750SS – £106,780

Was this the surprise of the sale? Probably, as it took more than three times as much as was originally estimated. Like the MV above, the Ducati 750SS is a relatively young bike and this one is in a state of disrepair. However, being the machine Ducati created to celebrate Paul Smart’s legendary Imola win in 1972, the 750SS is about as desirable as Ducatis come. Just 401 of the original ‘round case’ machines like this one were built. This particular bike has been off the road since 1979, when its piston rings broke. It was dismantled but never fixed.

Top ten prices at Bonhams spring sale - page five

2: 1970 Clymer Münch Mammoth - £154,940

Yet another of the Salamon bikes, this is the American spec version of the Münch Mammut – they were imported and sold over there by Floyd Clymer, founder of Cycle Magazine and the eponymous Clymer bike manuals, hence the Clymer name and English spelling of Mammoth. This car-engined creation – it uses an 1177cc NSU four-cylinder engine – was one of the most powerful bikes of its era. Just 150 of the Clymer versions were made.

1: 1931 Brough Superior SS100 - £264,700

While 1970s machines have dominated the top half of this list, we’re back to the pre-war period for our number one seller. And at £264,700 its sale price was over £100,000 more than its nearest rival.

Of course, it’s a Brough Superior SS100; always an auction favourite. This one was supplied new to Edinburgh Police and originally had a sidecar. Restored between 2001 and 2003, it’s been out of use for the last seven years and requires recommissioning. Following its owner’s death, the proceeds of the sale are destined to be split between the Search and Rescue Dog Association, the RLNI and the Salvation Army. That probably helped push the price well beyond its £220,000 top estimate.

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