Top 10 Most Expensive Vintage Motorcycles

by Deepak on November 9, 2010

Today we have a very special article, available only for Bikeadvice.in readers! We will see ten most expensive vintage motorcycles ever! This will be interesting, you don’t want to miss this, trust me!

Keep in mind, prices are only estimated. Most prices are based on actual auction values. Also I did not include a few motorcycles like Mars 1921. For example, this particular model is not even for sale, and prices can’t be found anywhere in the web. Here we have short technical overview and story of each motorcycle, as well the estimated value. Let’s begin from the least expensive motorcycles first!

10) 1966 Yamaha “The Batcycle” – $50,000

This one is very unusual. It was created for first “Batman” movie. As you see it is not a stock motorcycle, but it’s based on rare Yamaha Catalina 250. While engine was only 250cc two stroke parallel twin, it was modernized, and even with all additional weight and customization it was able to hit around 150 km/h.

Body was build almost entirely of fiberglass, and sidecar was made of steel. Go-cart that you see in the sidecar was fully functional and equipped with 50cc engine! Paintwork and fantastic styling made the price of this vintage motorcycle very high, at around 50,000$. Some replicas can be found for much lower price, but quality drops as well.

9) 1915 Indian 8-Valve (Boardracer) – $60,000

This bike is from Golden Era of racing history. It has humongous 1000cc 8-valve engine, in 1915’s this was unbelievable feat of technology! Rumors are that Indian’s top speed was 212 km/h! It was fastest motorcycle in the whole world!

Can you believe it? Indian, just like the other board track bikes didn’t had any brakes, clutch and throttle. Throttle was wide open, and only way to control it was a kill switch. There was also a version for civilians, equipped with brakes, clutch, throttle, and of course more comfortable and safe. Aside of that Indian is extremely rare and valuable piece of history. If you want to acquire one, get ready to pay more than 55k for fully restored exemplars!

8. 1928 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying 8 – $85,000

Flying 8 was one of the most iconic bikes at that time. And it was for a reason, it had fantastic looks, wild power and the character of a true motorcycle. In fact, it was almost as good as the legendary Brough Superior! The engine of this beast was 980cc V-twin with overhear valves.

Power unit allowed reaching speeds of 134 km/h, and that is excellent result for a side-valve. Also it was pretty lightweight bike despite “heavy” looks – 180kg. Unfortunately, last Flying 8 left the factory in 1930, because of world financial crisis. After that manufacturers concentrated their efforts on cheaper and lighter models. By any standards Coventry Eagle Flying 8 was impressive machine. Also it was second most expensive motorcycle at that time.

7) 1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow – $110,000

The Black Shadow was introduced in early 1950’s, and it was superior hand-built sports motorcycle every one dreamed of. It was meant to be more powerful than its predecessor – Vincent Series A Rapide. While size of the engine was the same (998cc), it was heavily modernized – compression was boosted to 7.3:1 and connecting rods were polished. Some additional minor changes were done too.

With such setup Black Shadow was able to reach 201km/h! Surprisingly, maintenance for this incredible machine was made even easier than for Vincent Rapide. It was named Black Shadow because all parts of the motorcycle were painted black, including the engine. Needless to say, that was a piece of art and true technological innovation. Vincent Black Shadow is one of the most sought after vintage bikes, and that’s why it costs more than 100k usd!

6) 1952 Vincent Series C Black Lightning – $160,000

Black Lightning was exclusive racing version of the Black Shadow. Almost every steel part was remade in aluminum or using the magnesium alloys. Also engineers of Black Lightning removed every unnecessary part from a motorcycle. Results were astonishing! New creation was on 38 kg lighter then Black Shadow! (170kg) Engine remained the same, although strong modifications were made: it had racing carburetor, stronger connection rods, polished rocker gear, special electric generator and dozens of other minor improvements.

Because of these modifications, compression in some models was as high as 12.5:1! Needless to say that resulted in 70bhp(52kW) and top speed of 240km/h! The Vincent Black Lightning wasn’t built for mediocre bike fans, it was so expensive and rare (only 31 original Black Lightning’s were made) that only luckiest and wealthiest people could acquire it.

5) 1924 BMW R32 – $165,000

This was the first motorcycle ever to “wear” BMW original emblem (as we see it today). For it’s time it was a very impressive machine, with top speed of 100km/h, 8.5bhp, 3-speed transmission and stunning looks.

For this motorcycle BMW engineers developed a closed circuit wet sump oiling system, which was absolute innovation. Other bikes in 1920’s were still using far less efficient oiling systems. Power unit of BMW R32 was 486 cc side-valve air-cooled flat-twin, which was powerful and economical at the same time. And dry weight of this motorcycle was only 106kg! For collectors R32 is most valuable bike from all BMW models, and that’s why it is priced over 150-160k $! (for a fully restored, functional model)

4) 1940 Crocker (Big Tank) – $230,000

It was one of the most popular motorcycles in America; Crocker was a legend (and still is). All Crocker’s were hand-made, and only built upon special orders (they weren’t made for most people, it was a luxury bike). Around 60 Crocker’s were made. In terms of performance nothing even came close to Crocker. Engine size was ranged from 1000cc to even 1500cc, and that happened in early 1940’s! That’s why Crocker was capable of doing 190+ km per hour! Unlike its rival from Europe – Brough Superior, Crocker was heavy and bulky motorcycle, like American “muscle cars” from 1970’s.

All parts were big and durable; gears were oversized for strength, though only 3 gears were available. Acceleration was immense; it reached 100 km/h so fast that huge companies like Harley and Indian couldn’t believe that they were easily outclassed by new small, private company. Aside of that Crocker has the wild spirit of a true motorcycle. It is a dream of every motorcycle fan out there.

3) 1939 Brough Superior SS100 – $300,000

First SS100 was introduced in 1924. The engineering of this model was developed through racing and competition, it won over 50 events in late 1920’s. Also it held world speed record (for motorcycles) 5 times! After this Brough Superior was known as the “Rolls-Royce” of the motorcycle world. All motorcycles came with a guarantee – 160km/h, though late 1930’s models were able to reach 200-210km/h! To remain stiff at so high speeds Brough used specifically engineered Castle forks and stout chassis construction.

Engine was massive 1000cc, fours stroke v-twin. It produced 85bhp, which was absolutely terrific for that time! Brough Superior SS100 had 4 gears, which was also a rarity. Without doubt SS100 was the most desirable and exclusive motorcycle of all time – design, power, speed and handling were perfect. SS100 gave absolutely sensational feeling for every one, who was brave enough to drive it on high speeds. So, could it be the best motorcycle in the world? You decide.

2) 1939 BMW (600?) Type 255 Kompressor – $400,000

BWM invented compressor technology in the late 1920’s, and in 1929 they already set few world records with their new invention. Second generation of supercharged BMW motorcycles appeared in 1935. They were equipped with two overhead camshafts; engine was brand new development, and new four-shift transmission was highly efficient for racing. These models were built only for racing events, they were not available for public.

Several most powerful motorcycles were equipped with 600cc supercharged engines, which produced around 80bph and provided nearly impossible top speed of 230+km/h! Weight was around 138-145kg (for different models). Aside of that they are extremely rare and valuable racing motorcycles, it is almost impossible to find one with 600cc. Original would easily cost more than 300,000$!

1) 1915 Cyclone – $520,000

The Cyclone is historically important motorcycle. It is nearly 100 years old right now, but what is more impressive that only 300 Cyclones was build back then in 1910’s. In these days only 8 (12?) originals were found. As Indian, another famous board-track motorcycle, Cyclone had huge 1000cc engine, which produced nearly 50bhp! (though compression rate was only 5.5:1, which may seem low) With such power and very low weight (technically it was a bicycle with huge engine) Cyclone was able to hit almost 200km/h!

It also was completely brakeless machine like others board racers. But you might ask why Indian is almost 10 times cheaper nowadays? Well it is much easier to find original Indian from 1914-15’s. On the other hand, Cyclone is simply a monumental bike, it is rarest motorcycle in the whole world!

That was the top ten most valuable bikes in the world, I hope you enjoyed. And please leave comment what could be your favorite motorcycle from this list!

- Aleks

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

ankit November 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Thanks deepak for this wonderful post on bikes they are really very awesome. The vintage motorcycle are very amazing motorcycle and everyone loves to own it. They are very expensive and favorite among everyone and maintenance plays important role. They have to be maintained with lot of care so that the performance should not be low. i also own BSA rocket 1964,lambratta lc125,…

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Deepak November 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm

May be you can submit a review on BSA rocket 1964 & Lambratta LC125. Me and other bikeadvice readers would love to read about it.

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KIRTI KUNAL November 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm

i am waiting for such a review……..

ignatius November 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm

i like 1924 BMW R32 as it has only rear wheel drive by rod unlike chain as in other motorcycle.,…..

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ajith November 9, 2010 at 6:24 pm

thanx for posting this great topic . . . .

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Siddarth November 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Nice article!!!!!!!!!!
Keep up !!!!!!!!

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faizan November 9, 2010 at 6:38 pm

thats the legacy of our present rides…..
thanks for a share

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ankit November 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm

surely i ll do,,,,thanks for your appreciation,i also post my project i.e.i am making a cage car with 350cc engine,spoa suspension,,,at my own workshop.

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KIRTI KUNAL November 9, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Great article. I wish indian bike manufacturers learn from these legendary bikes and make their bikes durable and reliable.

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Aleksejs Zuravlovs November 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Glad You liked it guys! Deepak and I spent some quality time to get it done!
p.s. – I really like the engine of the Brough Superior SS100, it looks awesome..

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BIKER November 9, 2010 at 8:36 pm

very nice review…………..and special too..!!

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Madhu November 9, 2010 at 9:07 pm

thansk for bring the wonderful list of blast from the past

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manu November 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm

brilliant article!!!!
suggestion – could you do one on 10 fastest production bikes available today?

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Aleksejs Zuravlovs November 10, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Hello Manu!
Great idea :) I will do that soon. (perhaps on saturday/sunday)
Aleks

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Manu November 12, 2010 at 10:53 pm

thank you :D

Chinmay November 9, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Nice summary of top 10 antique vintage motorbikes….except for 1st one(almost a bicycle) all are stunning in looks..
When I was a kid, my dad used to ride his uncle’s lambretta 1960 model (it was not vintage that time) and my friends dad used to drive his yezdi 250cc twin exhaust bike, my friend always used to brag by saying his bike is having 12 horse power(12 ghode ki takat), I used to comprehend that sentence by actually imagining tug of war situation where on one side 12 horses v/s 1 yezdi on the other side. Funny na!
My dad sold his lamby for just 1k bucks, I yell at him if he could have preserved it, now it could have been vintage bike with premium tag of atleast 50k INR!!

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fas November 10, 2010 at 1:53 am

I thought there might be a Ferrari bike in there, which has been doing the rounds for some time now.

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Aleksejs Zuravlovs November 10, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Hmm.. You mean that funny looking red-lipstick bike?:) (Ferrari V4)
It is not vintage, I aimed for motorcycles created before 1970. Though, it will certainly be in the modern top 10! Like MV Agusta F4-Senna.. (120.000$) Great point!

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Amol Birje November 10, 2010 at 2:54 pm

1928 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying 8 is a real macho machine!!!
Fantastic post, would like to see more of such articles.

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bikeshunt.com November 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

A very good collection of bikes

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shahid November 12, 2010 at 2:18 pm

what a bike

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Suresh November 13, 2010 at 12:41 pm

super bike’s, Thanks for this collection’s and we need more like this.

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Arun Chand November 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for presenting the past days heroes over here…its gr8

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Ashutosh November 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm

These alll are awesome byks i love them and like1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow. itz awesome.

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sam November 13, 2010 at 6:46 pm

i like 1915 Cyclone because it’s breakless

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Aleksejs Zuravlovs November 14, 2010 at 12:59 am

Haha, good one :)

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muralidhar November 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Awesome post DEEPAK. keep posting…..

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siddu November 14, 2010 at 7:09 am

these all bikes are superb and awesome.i likes these all bikes because i am a great fan to all the vintage cars and bikes.i like those a lot.in this i like very much bike was 1915 8 valve broadracer,y bcoz its giving great mileage of 212km/h.i like it a lot.

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Aslam November 14, 2010 at 11:51 am

I love Crocker(big tank), but it is dream one. hats off your work Mr. Deepak

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Jai Singh November 16, 2010 at 8:56 am

I am searching for BSA motorcycle.It is wonderful.

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jujukemist November 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

our ancestors of the bike species seems laughable, yet awesome in the engineering as per the era of production.hmn human evolution,wonderful

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indian Bob January 12, 2012 at 12:30 am

Nice choices! The pricing is way off on the 1915 overhead valve Indian, though. $60,000 will buy a replica. A real one with original paint would sell for $250,000, perhaps more on a good day.

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R Armstrong April 12, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Nice Bikes.Shame there’s no Pics of a series A HRD Vincents twins selling for around US$250000.Cheers.

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shreenath January 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

what an awsome collection……..!!!! I liked it ……

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Paul d'Orleans February 18, 2014 at 11:31 am

Hey Alecks,
your Top 10 is pretty inaccurate! Here’s a much better list – it’s actually got the top 30 most expensive bikes sold at public auction… http://thevintagent.blogspot.com/2010/11/top-20-at-auction-updated.html

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