Rare Crocker motorcycles headline Bonhams Pebble Beach sale

Bonhams is preparing for its forthcoming sale during Pebble Beach Car Week, with a sale of some of the world's rarest motorcycles, including three Crockers.

The company, which has established itself as the world's leading auction house for classic motorcycles, will present a two-day sale on August 16-17 which is sure to attract collectors of the highest pedigree.

Topping the bill will be a trio of Crocker motorcycles - regarded by many as the rarest and most sought-after American marque. Founded in 1936 by Al Crocker, the company went on to produce just 150 hand-built custom bikes before the onset of the second world war halted production. Today around just 50 examples are believed to still exist, making them the Holy Grail for collectors of American motorcycles.

"Having three documented Crockers in one sale is very momentous," said Malcolm Barber, CEO of Bonhams Group. "Very seldom does a Crocker ever come up for sale, so this is an extremely unique opportunity for collectors and one we are privileged to present."


A 1937 Crocker 61ci 'Hemi-Head' V-Twin engine motorcycle
A 1937 Crocker 61ci 'Hemi-Head' V-Twin engine motorcycle

Examples regularly sell for in excess of $200,000, with a 1937 Crocker "Hemi-Head" V-Twin Motorcycle formerly owned by Steve McQueen setting a record price of $276,500 in 2006.

Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we suspect the incredible rarity of these two-wheeled works of art could mean a new world record or two when they cross the auction block in August.

The sale will also offer collectors the chance to delve into the famous collection of Eddie Rickenbacker's, a San Francisco bar and grill renowned for its motorcycles.

The bar, a well-known attraction in the city, was founded in 1986 by the eccentric Norman Hobday, also known as Henry Africa - the inventor of the "Fern Bar" and the Lemon Drop Martini. He filled the bar with a stunning collection of vintage Tiffany lampshades and 30 vintage motorcycles - the majority of which were hung directly from the celing.

Hobday passed away in 2011, and the collection - which includes bikes from manufacturers such as Indian, Triumph and Harley-Davidson - is sure to draw bids from collectors with an eye for a classic.  

Hopes are high for the sale, as recent auctions have demonstrated the growing strength of the vintage motorcycle market. In an interview with Paul Fraser Collectibles last year, Bonhams' head of motorcycles Ben Walker spoke of the market's stability.

"We've seen a rise in the values of motorcycles year on year since the recession as people look to reinvest their funds in more tangible assets," he said. "At the top end of the market we've seen the values of some marques rise year on year between 10-25%. But even at the lower end of the market motorcycles have increased in value by 5-10%."

For more information, read Paul's take on investing in classic motorcycles here or see all the latest news in our classic car section here.


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