Racing at 100mph with no brakes: Ex-Steve McQueen motorcycle to be sold at Bonhams

The 1914 Indian Model F will join machines from three collections as part of a 240-strong offering of Pioneer, Vintage and Collectors' motorcycles at the Bonhams sale at the International Classic MotorCycle Show

An early racing motorcycle once owned by legendary Hollywood actor Steve McQueen is to be offered for sale by Bonhams at the International Classic MotorCycle Show in Stafford, UK, on Sunday 28th April.

The 1914 Indian Model F, estimated to realize between £22,000 and £28,000, is an example of a board-track racing motorcycle. These early purpose-built motorcycles lacked a clutch, throttle and brakes, and were push-started and run flat-out – often reaching speeds of up to 100mph – until the end of the race, when the rider would short the magneto to stall the engine.

Restored by a marque specialist, the 4hp machine was purchased by its current owner at a Bonhams auction in Carmel, California, USA, in May 2010, and has since been housed in his private collection.

Ben Walker, Head of the Bonhams Motorcycle Department, said: "The men who raced these early board-track motorcycles were not only pioneers and champions of early motor racing but must also have been incredibly brave. In this age of health and safety the idea of riding at up to 100mph with no helmet or protective clothing, knowing you have no way of stopping in a hurry, is a terrifying thought – but this is what they did."

The Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale will offer a total of 242 motorcycles, with many coming from private collections.

An eclectic selection of 31 machines owned by the late Clifford Jones features a number of 1950s 'cafe racers', as well as much modern-day racing and superbike machinery including several Ducati 916 Sennas and 999 Desmosedici Casey Stoner Replicas.

Some 28 motorcycles from another single-owner collection include 15 Triumphs, from a 1953 Speed Twin to a 1982 TSX, with estimates ranging between £2,000 and £8,000.

Among other sale highlights is a trio of Broughs – including a 1926 Brough Superior SS80/100 (estimate £160,000 - £200,000) and a 1931 SS80 (estimate £50,000 - £70,000) from the same vendor – and an early Brough, a 1921 Model G estimated at £20,000 - £30,000.
Meanwhile the fully-restored ex-works Vincent Black Shadow which formed part of the factory's bid to set a new 24-hour speed record at Montlhéry in France in May 1952 is estimated to realize between £110,000 and £130,000.

Among an array of Pioneer machines on offer is a largely-untouched 1913 Excelsior 61ci Model 7C Twin from a significant private collection (estimate £35,000 - £45,000), a fully-restored 1913 Rex 896cc V-twin (estimate £18,000 - £22,000), and a restored 1905 Peugeot 3½hp V-twin (estimate £18,000 - £22,000).

Ben Walker continued: "Our annual spring sale at the International Classic MotorCycle Show – our first on the UK auction season calendar – has traditionally been a very successful sale for us.

"We are delighted to return to Stafford with another wide and eclectic offering of important motorcycles, 'barn-find' restoration projects and affordable classics."

To view the online catalog for this auction visit: bonhams.com/auctions/21135.

The sale will take place at the Staffordshire County Showground, ST18 0BD. Lots included in the auction will be available to view between 10am and 5pm on Saturday 27th April, and from 9am on Sunday 28th April.


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

Contacts
  1. Ben Walker
    Specialist
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 8963 2819
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2801
  2. James Stensel
    Specialist
    Bonhams
    Work
    101 New Bond Street
    London, United Kingdom W1S 1SR
    Work +44 20 8963 2818
    FaxFax: +44 20 8963 2801
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