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bidders celebrate the golden age of the british motorcycle

A collection of 90 classic motorcycles owned by retired dealer Bill Crosby, pictured, and displayed at the recently-closed London Motorcycle Museum was sold at Saturday’s Bonhams Autumn Stafford Sale, achieving a 100% sale rate and a total of £332,000.

The collection included more than 40 motorcycles wearing the Triumph badge. The top lot of the collection was the 1977 Triumph 750cc T140V Strongbow Flat Tracker, which realised £33,350, more than three times its top estimate. This bike was one of a batch of six or seven T140V Bonnevilles built by Triumph for flat-track racing in the UK towards the end of 1977.

Crosby’s impressive selection of motorcycles, which the well-known former Triumph dealer and founder of the museum had amassed since the 1960s, represented the golden age of British motorcycle engineering, charting the development of so many historic marques from AJS to Velocette, via BSA, Matchless, Norton and Rudge.

Ben Walker, Bonhams international department director, said: “This is a well-deserved result for one of the best-known UK collections of largely British machinery. We are so pleased to have been able to achieve such a high sale rate which means that these historic machines, which embody the golden age of British motorcycling, have found new homes with fellow enthusiasts and collectors.”

Other highlights from the sale of the Bill Crosby/London Motorcycle Museum collection include:
1981 Triumph TS8-1 Prototype, sold for £13,225. Fitted with a TSX8 engine, this prototype was displayed at that year’s Earl’s Court motorcycle show but never put into production. This one-off had one “push” mile from new.

1982 Triumph 649cc TR65T Tiger Trail, realised £16,675. One of only six trial versions of the Thunderbird believed to be produced before the Meridian closure.

The Peril Speed Equipe sold for £20,700 – one of a trio of Triumph-powered drag racers built by circuit racer the late Bill Bragg, with the “Yellow Peril” running the best quarter mile of 13.39 seconds in 1961.

Another highlight was a rare Heuer ‘Carrera 1158’ fine watch owned by Mike Hailwood, the late nine-times Motorcycle Grand Prix World Champion, which achieved a sale price of £56,312, four-times its pre-sale estimate.

The 18 carat gold watch was gifted to Hailwood by Jack Heuer, the company’s former chairman and bore the personal engraving “To Mike Hailwood for a successful 1973, Jack Heuer” – a likely reference to Hailwood’s bravery in helping to rescue an unconscious Clay Regazzoni from his burning Ferrari at the South African Grand Prix, while Hailwood was competing in that year’s four-wheeled series.

On Sunday, a Brough Superior Overhead 680 project motorcycle sold for £92,000, exceeding its top estimate of £80,000 and leading the successful sale of more than 400 lots, which realised a total of more than £2 million and a sale rate of 92%.

Other highlights of the Autumn Stafford Sale:
•    1960 Viscount 1000cc, property of Eric Patterson, AMA speed record holder, realised £63,250.
•    1907 Norton 6hp V-twin achieved £43,700– double its pre-sale estimate.
•    1925 Norton 490cc Model 16H & Swallow Sidecar project realised £16,675.
•    1927 Norton Model 18 Racing Motorcycle Project sold for £13,800.
•    c. 1953 Norton 348cc Manx Model 40M Project achieved £13,800.
•    1957 Norton Manx-JAP 1150cc, property of Eric Patterson, AMA speed record holder, sold for £41,400.
•    1951 AJS 7R 350cc Racing Motorcycle, believed to be the former works machine of Bob McIntyre, realised £36,800.
•    c. 2016 Harley-Davidson 1570cc Custom Cycle ‘White Unique’, signed by his Holiness and donated to the Pontifical Mission Societies, sold for £48,300, with proceeds being donated to charity.
•    1989 Suzuki GSX-R750RR Special Edition achieved £10,925.
•    1986 Suzuki GSX-R750 Limited Edition realised £7590.



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