Bonhams auctions 'one of the most desirable American motorcycles'

A Harley-Davidson motorbike found in the bathroom of an Australian mine isn't the only highlight appearing in Bonhams' Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale, this Thursday (January 6).

Also boasting a fascinating back story is the 1922 Ace 77ci Four (Engine no. BX927) - which was actually the result of a falling out between two motorcycle manufacturers.

After selling their under-capitalised company to Ignaz Schwinn in November of 1917, the founding brothers of the Detroit, Michigan, based Henderson motorcycle company soon found Schwinn difficult to work with.

Thomas Henderson is thought to have departed to Europe and likely died there with very little money. Bill Henderson, meanwhile, is presumed to have left Schwinn with new motorcycle drawings rolled up under his arm in early 1920.

 Bill Henderson's revenge: the 1922 Ace 77ci Four motorcycle

While Ignaz Schwinn enlarged the Henderson motorcycle into something that no longer resembled the Henderson brothers' original vision, Bill Henderson secured financing and an old Savage Arms building in Philadelphia.

Within a few months, he was ready to produce his new four cylinder motorcycle. The Ace was born: a brand new and modern four cylinder motorcycle with a strikingly beautiful Packard Blue finish highlighted with cream coloured wheels.

"Its lines were very stylish and gave the impression it was fast even when at a standstill," say Bonhams' lot notes.

What's more, Henderson was shrewd and made sure that no Henderson part would fit his new Ace engine. The motor delivered 20 horsepower with an engine capacity of 75 cubic inches. It breathed through large valves and a volumetrically improved intake manifold and exhaust.

The Ace's motor delivers 20 horsepower with a capacity of 75 cubic inches

From the onset, the Ace engine was designed to appeal to the sporting rider yet deliver a smooth gentlemanly ride. And, with its smooth fenders and fresh look, the Ace soon overtook the increasingly antiquated Henderson.

According to Bonhams, this 1922 Ace has been expertly restored and scored "99+" points at an AMCA concours d'elegance. Details of the Ace - known to only a few knowledgeable people - were incorporated into this restoration.

Apparently still "exhilarating to ride... nimble, smooth and fast," this bike is rightly billed as being "one of the most desirable American motorcycles to own." It will appear in Las Vegas with an $125,000-150,000 pre-sale estimate.


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