From a Prominent European Collection,
c.1925 Ace 77ci Four
Engine no. B4572
William and Thomas Henderson, founders of Henderson Motorcycle in Detroit Michigan, sold their under-capitalized company to Ignaz Schwinn in November of 1917. Schwinn , who was developing his own four-cylinder motorcycle at the time to enhance his Excelsior line of single- and twin-cylinder motorcycles, decided that purchasing the Henderson company was an expedient and less expensive way to fulfill the market.
Schwinn, reportedly a very difficult man to work under, did not share the vision of the Henderson brothers. Thomas and William therefore decided to leave their namesake company altogether;Thomas departed to Europe and probably died there with little money whereas Bill Henderson most likely left the employ of Schwinn with new motorcycle drawings rolled up under his arm in the early 20s. While Schwinn began creating the Henderson motorcycle as a larger machine, Henderson secured financing and the old Savage Arms building in Philadelphia where he would produce his new four-cylinder motorcycle in a few months: the Ace.
Compared to the last of the true Hendersons, the new Ace motorcycle was a modern four-cylinder motorcycle. It was strikingly beautiful in its Packard Blue finish, highlighted with cream colored wheels, and its stylish lines gave the impression it was fast even at a stand still.
Henderson was shrewd and made sure that no Henderson part would fit his new Ace engine. Delivering 20 horsepower, the capacity of this motor was 75 cubic inches. The crankshaft was stronger with thicker journals and the flywheel made heavier to handle, increased power from the engine. The connecting rods drilled for lightness had dippers on the caps to improve oiling through the splash lubricated system. An inlet over exhaust motor, twin inlet blocks were perched atop four cast iron cylinders. The engine breathed through large valves and volumetrically improved intake manifold and exhaust. From the onset, the Ace engine was designed to appeal to the sporting rider yet deliver a smooth, gentlemanly ride.
While the old, true Hendersons appeared antiquated by 1920, the Ace had a fresh look.The frame was reinforced to eliminate flexing when under load but still allowed a low seating position. The streamlined gas tank was novel with the tool box inset through the top of the tank. Fenders, sourced from the same manufacturer as the Henderson, were wider and a different radius to allow smaller wheel rims with larger tires to be mounted. Rounding off the chassis were handlebars of a comfortable bend that allowed easy maneuvering of the motorcycle. Twin brakes attempted to haul the motorcycle down from a fast speed, however they were one of the few weak points in the design.
The Ace offered here comes to auction from a long term static collection and is presented in older, restored condition. It appears to be a very correct and authentic machine, although due to its static display in past years some recommissioning should be expected before use.
- Please note that the title for this motorcycle is in transit.
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