I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the show on The History Channel called American Pickers, but every once in a while they come across an old Harley-Davidson or Indian that is basically a pile of rusty parts held together by some invisible force. Then they’ll offer the owner of said motorcycle (sometimes sans motor) a bundle of cash. Sometimes as much as $10,000. It seems insane. Then you see this:
That’s a 1915 Indian 61ci Board-track Racing Motorcycle. In original condition – pulled from a barn or a basement somewhere. It’s a first-year model of the 61ci Big-Twin. It sold for $67,860. Which is quite a sum for something you can’t really ride. And there were at least a dozen unrestored barn-find motorcycles that brought more than $10,000. I don’t find it absurd that people are buying them – I understand wanting something rare and original and wonderful. What I don’t understand is where are people finding these? How many treasures are still out there to be found? It’s fascinating.
Here’s my other favorite barn-find:
It’s another Indian, specifically a 1906 Indian Camelback. Everything is there and supposedly it was ridden as recently as the 1970s, although it doesn’t look it. More interestingly, it was the personal bike of Paul du Pont of the famous du Pont family and founder of Du Pont Motors and, later on, owner of Indian motorcycles. This brought $72,540.
Other highlights included these two Vincents:
The first is a 1953 Vincent Black Shadow Series C. If you’re going to buy a classic motorcycle and money is no object, I recommend a Black Shadow. The second is a 1955 Black Prince that has appeared at auction after auction waiting for the right person to come along and finally bid over that reserve price. It finally happened. The Vincents brought $122,500 – each.
There was also this beautiful 1928 Henderson De Luxe Four:
This beautiful blue bike could’ve been yours for $70,200. Finally, we have two interesting motorcycles that are both “feet-forward.” And they were built almost 100 years apart. The first is the 1921 Ner-a-Car, of which a fair number were built. You just don’t see them that often anymore.
It sold for $9,360 and was stated as having been restored at the Indian factory in the 1940s although it is currently missing its exhaust. The other interesting motorcycles is this:
It’s a 2002 Gurney Alligator. I remember reading about this when it was first built. It looks really strange and it’s feet-forward design lends itself more toward a luge feeling than riding a motorcycle. Only 36 were built and they’re pretty quick with 70 horsepower and a top speed of about 140 mph. It sold for $15,210 – slightly more than your average cheap new motorcycle – but this will start conversations much more easily.