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Las Vegas motorcycle auction offers record number of vintage machines

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Top motorcycle collectors, consignors and museum curators are headed to Nevada this week for the Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction.

The 27th annual event, which every year is a top draw for motorcycle enthusiasts worldwide, will have a record 1,750 single lots cross the auction block.

That should mean spirited bidding, as professionals and private parties compete for that historic Husqvarna motocrosser or vintage Vincent Black Shadow.

Last year, Mecum reported $13.7 million in sales and a 92 percent sell-through rate.

Bikes on the block included several highly prized Italian motorcycles from the collection of celebrity photographer Guy Webster.

This year, in addition to the usual American and European classics from Harley-Davidson, Indian, BMW, Triumph and other marques, Mecum will offer an entire brand.

The auction house will sell the name and all the intellectual property controlled by the Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle company.

That manufacturer, once the great rival to Harley and Indian, fell upon hard times. But its classic motorcycles attract top dollar. At last year's Mecum auction, big sales included $490,000 for a 1912 Henderson Four, $150,000 for a 1913 Henderson Four, and $117,500 for a 1928 Henderson Big Bertha.

Classics from Henderson's glory days will be joined by early 1900s motor-bicycles and board track racers made by fellow early American marques Marsh Metz, Thor, Pope and Flying Merkel.

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As has been the case in several previous auctions, the offerings include bikes once owned, or are claimed to have been owned, by the late actor-racer Steve McQueen.

Motorcycle historian Paul D'Orleans, who does color commentary for the Mecum auction, predicted this year's take will greatly exceed the sales total in 2017, when 24 individual motorcycles sold for more than $100,000 each, because so many more motorcycles will be offered.

"I expect we'll see well over $14 million sold at the South Point Casino this year," D'Orleans said. "I'm being very conservative. There are 50 percent more bikes than last year."

The Mecum event, held at the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa, runs Jan. 23 to Jan. 27. Portions of the auction will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network. The entire auction will be streamed live on Mecum.com.

(c)2018 Los Angeles Times

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