1927 Ace 1,229cc Four Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347

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Lot 322
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four
Registration no. BS 9514 Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347

Sold for £ 43,700 (US$ 60,313) inc. premium
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four
Registration no. BS 9514
Frame no. VF347
Engine no. VF347
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 19-year existence. In 1917 the firm passed into the control of Chicago-based cycle maker Ignaz Schwinn, owner of Excelsior, 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 had been 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). The 75ci (1,229cc) 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. Following Bill Henderson's death in an auto accident in December 1922 while testing an Ace, Arthur O Lemon was recruited as chief engineer from the rival Excelsior/Henderson firm, bringing with him rider Charles 'Red' Wolverton. Ace's competition successes continued under Lemon's direction, including a new American motorcycle speed record of 129.61mph set by Wolverton, but these were not matched by sales and the company went bust in 1924. By 1926 the reconstituted Ace was owned by Detroit Motors, from which it was bought by Indian in January '27.

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 example is believed to have resided in the USA before coming to the UK in 2005, since when it has had only one owner. We understand that Eric Neves restored the clutch and transmission, but little else is known about the Ace's history or condition. Sold strictly as viewed, the machine is offered with old/current UK V5C registration documents and ring-binder of photocopied marque-related literature.

Saleroom notices

  • There is no Frame Number visable.
Contacts
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347
1927 Ace 1,229cc Four Frame no. VF347 Engine no. VF347
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25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £10,000 up to and including £450,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £450,000 up to and including £4,500,000;
and 14.5% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £4,500,000.

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