2022 Mecum Vintage Auction

31st. Annual Mecum Vintage Motorcycle Auction
January 25-29, 2022 – South Point Hotel – Las Vegas Nevada

After a pause, followed by a relocation last year, Mecum’s 2022 vintage extravaganza seemed back in it’s rightful place at the South Point Hotel. Scheduling a bidders-only event for April 2021 in the Vegas Convention Center (read about it here) many hundreds of visitors were once again welcomed into the auction scene…and what a scene it was. Well promoted throughout the facility, it’s easy to find the main walkway that leads to the events center. Once inside a cavernous lobby opens with a pub dead ahead, stage right, snack bar, and a double door marked by a sign that reads ‘More Motorcycles’. That’s an understatement, and at the risk of offense it simply can’t be appreciated fully unless experienced live.

All that being said, this outside viewing audience factors heavily into the bidding process. When I was paying attention, a rough count showed half or more of the auctions hammered in favor of online or telephone bidders. Noticing the same trend, our own Bill Ross reported a few more while following the action from his home in California. “Interesting to see the spike for vintage Euro dirt bikes, 70s/80s Japanese superbikes and small displacement trail/utility two-wheelers,” said Bill. “Parallel that with soft prices for classic English twins, or the lack of big bore Ducati and Moto Guzzis.” My notes say many of Bill’s observations link continuing trends, but some are trending quicker than expected. Current news aside, one scan of Mecum’s ‘Top Ten’ reveals a familiar cast of exotics from Brough Superior, Vincent, Indian, and Harley Davidson. “Much like watching a ballgame, the viewer gets close ups and commentary one wouldn’t get attending live,” continues Bill. “Still, given the choice I’d much rather be there with my friends and poking around the available bikes. Some machines come out of left field to peak interest, other times an old crush is re-ignited. Whatever the case, I enjoyed watching the auction on TV more than I thought.”         

(Here’s one owner who’s glad he attended. “We were looking at another Buell, but this caught our attention,” he explained. “Mileage couldn’t be listed as the battery’s dead, but it’s new – tire nubs and all.”  Photographed at the loading dock, moments after this shot was taken the racy red Buell was lifted into a van and whisked away. “I wouldn’t have given it a second thought watching online.” The liquid-cooled, six-speed 1125 cr hammered for $7000)

Sensing correctly the re-opening would draw a massive crowd, we received more questions than usual from readers after Mecum’s super big foldout was mailed. Taking the advice of friend and ace builder TJ Jackson, my first question to any perspective auction buyer is this: What are you going to do with it? Knowing the answer to that question will define the approach leading to purchase, but only after some study to recognize potential issues regarding originally or mechanical condition. Sellers are often nearby to answer questions, and many leave their business cards on the bike. Other times, none of these options are available and the motorcycle remains more of a mystery. Bid accordingly. Note the auction schedule and revisit the bike often to increase your chances of getting important info. There is a science to this, for while most auction highlights focus solely on the high rollers and competitive bidding, the real magic of Vegas are the hidden gems that appear every year.

Picked across the spectrum and every one a standout in some important way, Alex and I showcase three machines each for this exercise – plus a mutually agreed upon ‘Best of Show.’ Predictably drawn to big bore road burners from the 70s and 80s, there’s always one machine that hits hardest, and it happened to me again this year. Alex usually offers some differing perspective, but several unforgettable British twins moved both Alex and I towards the same motorcycles this year. Not difficult to understand, rows of premium open-class roadsters and small bore exotics made the choosing difficult, but only one of the motorcycles featured here sold for over $20K. Shot using Nikon, FujiFilm and Apple, please note the gallery on page two of this report. For more prices and to get the mailer, please visit mecum.com and register with your email.

Alexander Woodbury: 1977 BMW R75/7 (#T310, Sold at $5,500 w/ fees)

With the first Start Me Up’ of the week comes the question: “If you could roll just one bike out of the door, which one would it be?”  I think the answer for me is this 1977 R75/7. Not the most popular pick of the litter and far from the most valuable or powerful, it tuned well into my own frequency. Sort of a magical melding of old and new era German (leaning, just slightly towards the latter) the smooth 75/7 was replaced in 1978 by the also excellent R80, and BMW’s refining of this engine and chassis up to this vintage is a point I appreciate and respect dearly. This particular example in original metallic brown showed low miles, and is a rare bird in comparison to other airhead models. Very little winding needed to get it ticking its way home.

Nolan Woodbury: 1971 Gus Kuhn Norton Commando (#F100, Sold at $7700 w/fees)

Studying pics at Mecum’s site weeks before, viewing this Kuhn-equipped Commando up close and in person didn’t answer many questions. Founded after WWI by RAF veteran Gus Kuhn, the London dealer and racing icon was succeeded by daughter Marian and son-in-law Vincent Davey in the 1960s. It was ‘Dave and Marian’ behind Kuhn’s performance Commando, BMWs, MV’s and many more, including highly competitive racers. Kuhn’s catalog offered every special part visible here (in unpainted bodywork) and this bike appears to have aged evenly…making me wonder if it was delivered as built from Kuhn’s workshop. Dulled over time, the shouldered alloys and brake components are not immediately recognizable, and the engine still wears its twin 30mm factory Amals (Kuhn fit 32mm carbs, a new ignition and high-comp pistons). Kuhn’s ‘glass components in metalflake red have aged well, save for its damaged petrol tank. Watching the auction crew push the dragging Norton, it was obvious the old 750 has sat idle for years.                      

AW: 1963 BSA Rocket Gold Star Replica (#F250, Sold at $14,300 w/fees)

My dad Nolan recently displayed a lightly modded Rocket Gold Star on social media, calling it the ultimate expression of BSA’s fabled A10 twin. Many seem to agree (3.5K on that post, and counting) as do I, for the factory’s melding of a tuned 650cc Super Rocket engine with the sports Gold Star made a magically balanced motorcycle. Only 1200 were originally made (some as dirt bikes) but I hear A10-based copies abound. While perhaps the most striking motorcycle on the auction floor IMO, this replica caught little attention as the owner stood nearby most all day Thursday, disappointed. Funny, I found it rather difficult to get a shot without a crowd surrounding it, but I suppose a watched pot never boils. Credit the seller for the faithful replication in detail, fit, and finish, a machine such as this is one you could put on 22’ roads and enjoy as designed. All while maintaining great value for resale should you ever feel the need to part with it.

NW: 1987 Kawasaki GPz Ninja 1000R GPz (#T243, Sold for $6600 w/fees)

It hasn’t been easy trying to explain my massive mechanical crush on Kawasaki’s first-issue 1000R, but not for a lack of trying. All respect given to the more popular 900 ‘Top Gun’, Kawasaki used the biggest Ninja to introduce a new perimeter chassis and streamlining. With its all steel frame and liquid-cooling, the wailing DOHC, 997cc four is stout enough to push nearly 600-lbs of bike and rider to 160-mph, and the design (if not the starter) is battle tested. Often tagged as an 80s trend, the Ninja’s sixteen inch wheels pointed to the future, not to mention the benefits of lower seating. Later, an aluminum frame and even more power transformed the 1000R into the ZX10, but the Ninja wasn’t done – living on for many years wearing Concours touring parts and 18″ wheels. For me, it’s the front/rear styling and heavy hitter personality that assures long term happiness, and despite struggling to finish current projects, I was very tempted. Well bought for the price, this 7500-mile beauty was fit with new tires, and only needed some light prep to ride. 

AW: 1968 Royal Enfield Interceptor (#F271, Sold at $22,000 w/ fees)

“Entering into the fabulous world of vintage motorcycles out of season, even the ignorant can spot the distinct craftsmanship of RE’s Interceptor 750 within the great sea of motorcycles on Mecum’s auction floor. Knowing very little, my eyes and ears remain open around this bike as those better informed poke, prod and make phone calls about it. Built to compete in North America – it appears they were quite successful” Alex Woodbury

NW: 1983 Laverda RGS 1000 (S140, Sold for $12.100 w/fees)

Often overlooked in Breganze’s considerable lore, this RGS triple was part of the ‘Northern California Superbike Collection’ – a well established Mecum seller. Offering a nice selection of hard to find, mint condition superbikes for a few years now, I dismissed the rapid 1000 as a rare exception to that. At least in the preview photos. One look at the fork brace, goofy shocks and painted wheels resulted in a mental no thanks from me, but this sleek and very original 1983 RGS truly shocked me up close and live. Showing flawless fitments and factory-gloss finish, the RGS was the last and most sophisticated of the brother’s triples. The latter 120-degree crank/lowered frame RGS is easier to ride and more comfortable than its rowdy predecessors, yet second to none in handling. In fact, rank the RGS Corsa as Laverda’s fastest and the Executive as most luxurious, for as with all its Italian competitors, progress moved slowly in Breganze.            

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