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For the well-heeled motorcyclist, this past weekend was the time to reach down into the couch cushions, gather up all that spare change, and head to Chicago for the 2016 Mecum Motorcycle Auction. With a claimed 350 motorcycles hitting the auction block and projected prices of some lots reaching up into the six figure range, perhaps one would need to check the couch cushions at the main house, the beach house, and the ski lodge to gather the necessary funds. Still, for those who love rare motorcycles and have the means to support them in the lifestyle to which they are accustomed, the Mecum Motorcycle Auction provides a great opportunity to own a bit of two-wheeled history.
Now it’s Monday, and the 2016 auction is history. Let’s take a quick look at some of the bikes that sold at the highest prices.
No 10. 1939 BMW R71 – $25,000
The Boxer surpassed its estimated $17,000-$23,000 selling price by a couple thousand dollars. Hailing from the Michael Shoen Collection, the BMW R71 was listed as engine # 701256 mated to frame # 513263. As far as pedigree is concerned, a letter from BMW included in the auction dates the frame/engine’s manufacture numbers as being part of the 1939 vintage. The bike is said to be in running order and in “unrestored or old restoration” condition.
No 8: 1929 Harley-Davidson Model D 45 – $29,500
The Harley-Davidson 45 CI engine had a long production run (from 1929–1973), and this Model D 45 was produced in that very first year. The side valve engine was also the first Harley engine with removable cylinder heads, and the lightweight chassis was shared with Harley’s single-cylinder engines. With only 4,513 of the Model D built, this bike has been restored to a 97 point AMCA rating. The selling price was just $500 shy of the pre-auction estimate of $30,000 – $42,000.
No 4: 1949 Indian Arrow Steve McQueen – $33,000
This 250 cc, 4-speed Indian was part of Steve McQueen’s 1984 estate sale (lot # 621) and, if that weren’t enough, has as its claim to fame being the motorcycle that McQueen used to teach Barbara McQueen how to overhaul carburetors. Unfortunately, the bike only garnered a bit more than half of its estimated $60,000 – $72,000 price. Still, the machine is comprised of frame # 1491156 and engine # AD11156 and was restored my McQueen’s friend (and famed Indian builder) Sammy Pierce.
No 2: 1906 Indian Camelback – $41,000
One of four motorcycles sold from the Larry Pedersen Collection from Calgary, Alberta, Canada in the top ten bikes of the Mecum auction, this Indian is one of only 1,698 built in 1906. It features a F-head engine and displaces 17.6 CI (288cc) with a Hedstrom carburetor (claimed to be the first reliable carburetor in motorcycling), producing 2.25 hp. This Indian Camelback was restored by the renowned Yellow Spear Restorations using a combination of an original engine case and “masterfully crafted reproduction parts where necessary.” It is claimed to run as good as it looks.
No 1: 1912 Flying Merkel Board Tracker – $61,000
This 1912 Flying Merkel board tracker features both the original Merkel engine and the rare original Merkel carburetor. The bike also sports a period correct Bosch magneto in addition to a Corbin V-band rear hub and a Mesinger racing seat. The Flying Merkel was the name given to the Merkel race bikes and featured on the tank from 1911 to the company’s demise. Although only producing motorcycle for 15 years, the Merkel and the Flying Merkel motorcycles created a reputation on the street and board tracks that lives on today in the hearts of many motorcyclists – as demonstrated by the $61,000 selling price of this impeccable example
To see the full listing of the top 10 highest sales priced motorcycles at the 2016 Mecum Motorcycle Auction, visit the Mecum auction results page.