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!