Bonhams season-opening sale a feast for collectors

Rarities for sale at Bonhams

Written by Ben Purvis , Date 4:24 PM
Velocette at Bonhams

Just when you think there can’t be any more undiscovered barn-find exotic bikes it the auctioneers at Bonhams come up with another hoard of two-wheeled rarities.

For the season-opening sale at the International Classic Motorcycle Show in Stafford, UK, on April 23, Bonhams has a bumper crop to suit all tastes.

First comes one of the most significant racers ever to cross the auction block. While not as famous as some race bikes, the 1948 Velocette KTT MkVIII has an enviable heritage. Ridden by Freddie Frith to the 350cc world championship in 1949 – the first year of the FIM World Championship – it also won the Isle of Man TT that year. Like so many race bikes, it wasn’t wrapped in cotton wool after its 1949 successes. Instead it was dismantled and sold by the works team. Fortunately the original engine and frame were reunited and rebuilt.

When it goes under the hammer, Bonhams expects it to take between £120,000 and £150,000.

Vincent at Bonhams

Vincent is a White Shadow, not a Black Shadow

Alongside it will be sold an incredibly rare Vincent White Shadow, also from 1949. While the Black Shadow is among the most famous bikes ever built, the White Shadow is rarer still. Distinguished by unpainted engine cases rather than the black ones that gave the Black Shadow its name, only 15 were made.

Unridden since 1976, the Bonhams barn-find bike was thought to be a Black Shadow until closer inspection revealed it to be the rarer model. It’s expected to achieve between £50,000 and £60,000 at auction.

MV Agusta at Bonhams

MV Agusta has been in its crate since 1998

For fans of more modern fare, Bonhams also has one of the 300 ‘Serie Oro’ MV Agusta F4 750s that launched the reborn company’s range in 1998. Incredibly, this bike, which is number 8 and believed to be the first sold to a member of the public, has never been ridden. It’s still in its delivery crate nearly twenty years after being built. Bonhams estimates a price of £28,000-£36,000.

Other rarities on offer include 250cc Ducati GP bike from around 1960 that was owned by both John Surtees and Mike Hailwood. Whoever buys it is going to have trouble living up to the achievements of those former keepers. He’ll also need £80,000-£100,000 if it hits the auction estimate.

Hailwood Leathers at Bonhams

Mike Hailwood rode in these in 1978

A cheaper bit of Hailwood memorabilia on offer is a set of his leathers. Dating back to 1978, when he rode at Bathurst in Australia to warm up for his famous 1978 Isle of Man TT comeback, they’re expected to take £3000-£4000 at auction.

Croz leathers at Bonhams

Who will buy these, a race fan or a computer nut?

With rare and antique Apple computer kit fetching crazy prices from collectors, a set of leathers bearing the firm’s logo could be a bargain. Worn by Graeme Crosby, the leathers mark one of just two occasions when the firm sponsored motorsport, the other being a Porsche Le Mans racer. The leathers are estimated at £1000-£1500.

See all the auction lots here

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