1959 Triumph T120 650cc Bonneville
Lot 809
1959 Triumph 650cc T120R Bonneville
Sold for US$ 28,080 inc. premium
Lot Details
1959 Triumph 650cc T120R Bonneville
Frame no. T120 026351
Engine no. T120 026351
First-of-the-line examples of iconic models are always highly prized by collectors, and none more so than the 1959 Triumph T120R Bonneville. Hurriedly prepared for its debut at the 1958 Earls Court Show (it was too late for inclusion in the 1959 catalog) the ‘Bonnie’ arrived at a time when young motorcycle enthusiasts wanted style as well as substance and had the money to pay for it. Finished in striking two-tone Tangerine/Pearl Grey with matching mudguards and black cycle parts, the bike was a real looker, and the name ‘Bonneville’, chosen in honor of Johnny Allen’s record-breaking achievements with his Triumph-powered streamliner at the eponymous Utah salt flats, was an inspired piece of marketing.

Although, ostensibly, the Bonneville was little more than a T110 fitted with the splayed-port cylinder head and twin carburetors, there was, of course, more to it than that. As well as the performance-enhancing top end, the Bonneville, together with the rest of Triumph’s twins, incorporated a new, stronger crankshaft assembly that development had shown was necessary to cope with the increased power. The latter now stood at 46bhp, an improvement of some 15% over that of the contemporary single-carb T110. Works tester Percy Tait had achieved 128mph at MIRA on a development bike, and even though this figure proved beyond the reach of the production version, the Bonnie was at least as fast as the opposition and much better looking, which was all that mattered.

That first 1959 Bonneville was the only one of the many versions to feature the headlamp nacelle. Only the first series produced had the distinctive ‘Tangerine Dream’ livery, while other features unique to these early 1959 models were the stepped dualseat and touring handlebars. As usual, there were minor differences between the UK and East/West Coast USA models.

This ‘Tangerine Dream’ first-year Bonnie was purchased from Cycle Hub (Cliff Majors) in 1988 complete with all original parts. The machine benefits from a recently completed total ‘ground upwards’ restoration by Craig Griffith, which included a concours-standard engine and transmission rebuild by John Otto. We are advised that everything is to original specification, the machine incorporating all new OEM sheet metal and correct original carburetors and float bowl. Zero miles have been covered since completion, leaving the fortunate next owner to fill the machine with all necessary fluids and undertake running in and fine-tuning. Offered with Certificate of Title.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note, the title to lot 809, a 1959 Triumph 650cc T120R Bonneville, shows the engine number as '026351.'
Auction information

This sale is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future sales, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this sale, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

For all Sales categories excluding Arms & Armor, Coins & Medals, Motor Cars, Motorcycles, and Wine & Whisky:

Buyer's Premium Rates
25% on the first $100,000 of the Hammer Price
20% from $100,001 to $2,000,000 of the Hammer Price
12% on the excess over $2,000,000 of the Hammer Price

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank, (d) wire transfer or other immediate bank transfer, or (e) Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover credit, charge or debit card. A processing fee will be assessed on any returned checks. Please note that the amount of cash notes and cash equivalents that can be accepted from a given purchaser may be limited.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licences please contact Bonhams Shipping Department.

Lot symbols
Exempt from tax

Zero rated for VAT, no VAT will be added to the Hammer Price or the Buyer's Premium.