1920 Ace Four Frame no. 379112185L Engine no. A1073

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Lot 254
1920 Ace Four
Registration no. SV 5874 Frame no. 379112185L Engine no. A1073

Sold for £ 25,300 (US$ 33,228) inc. premium
1920 Ace Four
Registration no. SV 5874
Frame no. 379112185L
Engine no. A1073
The Ace was William Henderson’s second four-cylinder motorcycle. One of the most charismatic names in American motorcycling history, the Henderson company - founded by Tom and William Henderson in Detroit in 1912 - produced nothing but four-cylinder motorcycles in the course of its nineteen-year existence. The firm passed into the control of Chicago-based cycle maker Ignaz Schwinn, owner of Excelsior, in 1917 and the Hendersons soon moved on to found the Ace motorcycle company - later taken over by Indian - thereby having a hand in the design of all the major American-built fours.

The first Ace four was offered late in 1919 for the 1920 season, and retained the ‘F-head’ (inlet-over-exhaust) valve gear of the original Henderson. (Schwinn’s Hendersons went ‘flat head’ for 1920). Displacing 1,220cc, the air-cooled inline engine employed splash lubrication and was built in unit with the three-speed, hand-change gearbox. A wheelbase of 59” and a seat height of 29” made for a stable and comfortable ride, while weight was kept down to a commendable 365lbs.
To promote its new product, Ace recruited Erwin G Baker, famous for his record-breaking long distance rides for Indian, and ‘Cannonball’ duly obliged, setting a new transcontinental record of 6 days, 22 hours, 52 minutes, smashing Henderson’s existing record and humbling Henderson-mounted rival Wells Bennett in the process.

Ranked alongside Crocker, Cyclone, Flying Merkel and a select few other marques, the Ace Four is a highly desirable motorcycle for any collection, and examples are seldom offered for sale on the open market.

This early Ace four was acquired from the late Brian Verrall in 1981 and subsequently became the focus of a long-term restoration project, as evidenced by invoices on file for an engine rebuild and various other works dating from the 1980s. The machine was ridden briefly by the current vendor following the completion of the restoration in the mid-1990s, and is reported to have performed well at that time. It has been carefully stored since then, being given the occasional clean and the motor turned over, and is presented in good overall condition, showing only slight signs of patination. Offered with the aforementioned invoices, sundry restoration photographs and Swansea V5C registration document, ‘SV 5874’ represents a rare opportunity to acquire an early ‘four’ belonging to one of America’s most charismatic marques. Careful re-commissioning is advised before returning the machine to the road.
1920 Ace Four Frame no. 379112185L Engine no. A1073
1920 Ace Four Frame no. 379112185L Engine no. A1073
1920 Ace Four Frame no. 379112185L Engine no. A1073
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