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HomeNEWSLivewire Bonhams bag £3.6m sale

Livewire Bonhams bag £3.6m sale

Auction house Bonhams was back at the Stafford Showground with a high-octane bang scoring £3.585m including premium and selling 98% of lots.

The bumper live audience sale was over three days (2-4 July) for the first time. It was possibly the biggest two-wheel sale in terms of lots ever held in the UK, and it netted the Bonhams team its third-best turnover result at Stafford, April 2019 being the high point at £3.9m.

While the classic bike scene is generally acknowledged to be steadying, Bonhams proved that old classics are still star turns on the financial stage.

At Stafford top of the bill was a c1946 AJS E90 Porcupine 500cc race bike. Only four E90s were built. Leading AJS pundits reckoned the machine to have £1m potential. Bonhams had listed a £250,000-£300,000 estimate and it proved to be spot-on – the DOHC twin making £293,250 including premium, a world record for an AJS Porcupine at auction.

It is believed that New York lawyer Rob Iannucci was the buyer. A lifelong devotee of AJS-Matchless race machinery and founder of Team Obsolete, Ianucci had in 1983 acquired an incomplete later type E95 Porcupine (four were made) in 1983.

The previous record for a Porcupine under the hammer was £157,700, for an E95 version, sold by Brooks in April 2000 at Stafford. At the time this was also the world record for a British bike at auction.

Second best seller at Stafford (£126,500) was a special by engineer Ewan Cameron – a supercharged Brough Superior SS100. The Brough name dominated the big bucks table, taking six of the top ten sales. Three of the Broughs were from the National Motorcycle Museum at Solihull, Birmingham.

Ben Walker, Bonhams head of bikes, said: “It was a joy to return to Stafford for our first live auction in more than 18 months. The saleroom was buzzing.”

While the Bonhams hammer was at work, the International Classic Motorcycle Show was taking place on Saturday and Sunday in the grounds and halls at the showground.

It was a somewhat subdued affair compared to previous years, organiser Mortons having to restrict entry numbers and stand holders to comply with Covid restrictions under the watchful eye of the local council.

Among outdoor traders accepting that sales probably wouldn’t be as strong as previous years, Jim Barlow (Barlows Motorcycles, Doncaster) said Mortons deserved a pat on the back for getting the show up and running again.

“People in general were happy to get to an event, and 99% of them were sensible with regard to social distancing,” said Barlow who was among the Bonhams buyers on the Friday.

Bonhams traditionally holds two world leading motorcycle sales a year at Stafford as part of Mortons Group classic motorcycle shows. Last year both were cancelled because of Covid-19. Bonhams used other venues and, despite restrictions, claimed a record year for bikes at £7.6m in 2020.

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