Mike Hailwood Ducati 900 NCR races to $175,500 with Bonhams

An identical Ducati 900 NCR to the magnificent model that Mike Hailwood famously rode to victory on his return to bike racing in 1978 has seen the highest bids in Bonhams' Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction.

Ducati 900 NCR Mike Hailwood
 Only 20-25 round case examples of the Ducati 900 NCR bike were ever built

The bike, a superb piece of motorcycle racing history consigned from the prestigious Silverman Museum Racing Collection, sold for $175,500 on January 9. It has never been raced and is preserved in as-new condition.

One of the finest road racers of his generation, Hailwood retired from bike racing in 1971 to compete in automobile racing. Having won the 1972 Formula 2 championship, he returned in 1978 for the legendary Isle of Man race.

Thought to be long past his prime, Hailwood surprised crowds gathered at the 37-mile circuit by winning with an average speed of 108 mph, and setting a new lap record of 110.62 mph.

The bike was one of a number of important Ducatis in the sale, including a rare 1974 750SS Green Frame Round Case ($137,000).

1940 Harley Davidson EL
The Harley-Davidson EL set precedents in both style and engineering that have become iconic today

Racing bikes weren't the only models to prosper in the sale, with the irresistible cool of a 1940 Harley-Davidson EL drawing $159,000 from the crowd.

The bike was consigned from the museum collection of respected dealer Wayne Pierce, and was one of his favourite bikes. In largely unrestored condition, it presented a fantastic opportunity for the collector, with Bonhams stating: "As American motorcycle milestones go, it doesn't get much better than a Harley-Davidson Knucklehead."

The EL set the precedent for today's Harley-Davidson models in terms of style, being the first to feature the iconic teardrop tank. It also saw the introduction of the Knucklehead engine in 1936, named for the distinctive shape of its rockerbox covers.

Steve McQueen Indian Big Chief Von Dutch
Kenny Howard, aka Von Dutch, was a legendary pinstriper and artist of Kustom Kulture, with his company later going on to produce a successful clothing line

Also starring was an ex-Steve McQueen 1923 Indian Big Chief with Princess Sidecar, which was given a stunning restoration by Von Dutch in 1969. Selling at $126,000, Bonhams commented:

"It would be interesting enough to offer at auction a fully restored first-year 1923 Indian Big Chief, but this machine has a double-barreled provenance, having been the property of legendary 'icon of cool' Steve McQueen, and was restored by the irascible and almost equally legendary Kenny Howard, aka 'Von Dutch."

With the classic car scene thriving, we're sure to see more classic motorcycle sales such as this in the coming year - sign up to our free newsletter to ensure you don't miss out.

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