Bonhams: Helmut Fath Sidecar for Sale


Motorcycle Auction

Bonhams annual sale of Collectors’ Motorcycles and Related Memorabilia at The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford UK, on Oct. 17, will include the historic racing motorcycle on which the legendary Helmut Fath won the Sidecar World Championship in 1968 and with which Horst Owesle took the title in 1971.

It is just one of the many highlights of the eclectic mix of machines consigned to Bonhams second annual Collectors’ Motorcycle sale at Stafford.

World Champion in 1960 riding a privately entered BMW, Helmut Fath spent the next few years out of racing following a serious injury.

Rebuffed by the German manufacturer on his return, he set about building his own four-cylinder ‘URS’ racing engine, which took its name from the village of Ursenbach in Germany where the project was conceived.

The URS was plagued by teething troubles in its first two seasons but delivered Fath his sweet revenge in 1968, when he and passenger Wolfgang Kalauch beat BMW-mounted Johann Attenberger to take the World Championship. In 1969 another serious injury enforced Fath’s retirement from the sport but the URS was not done yet. Horst Owesle took over the drive and after a promising debut season which saw him finish 7th in the 1970 World Championship, he and passenger Peter Rutterford secured the URS’s second World title the following year. Estimate £70,000 – 80,000.

The URS is offered from an important UK private collection together with another unique post-war racing motorcycle: the 500cc URS-engined Seeley prototype that John Blanchard rode to 4th place in the 1967 Ulster Grand Prix and which was raced later in 750cc form by Tony Jefferies. Estimate £60,000 – 70,000.

Divided into two separate lots, a vast quantity of URS spares is on offer also, sufficient to build several additional engines. Estimate £5,000 – 10,000 each.

Offered from the same collection is the actual 1977 MV Agusta 832cc Monza superbike that was tested by ‘The Motor Cycle’ magazine at 147mph, making it the fastest production machine in the world at that time. This stunning piece of Italian exotica had had four owners when it was purchased by the current vendor in 1991 and has covered only 6,612 miles from new. Estimate £30,000 – 35,000.

The Sammy Miller Museum in New Milton, Hampshire is recognised as housing one of the finest motorcycle collections in Europe and Bonhams is privileged to offer for sale three of its machines: a 1933 AJS 496cc Model 34 (£10,000 – 12,000), a 1934 Matchless 596cc Silver Hawk V-Four (£30,000 – 35,000) and a 1922 Velocette 220cc EL3 Lady’s Model (£3,500 – 4,500). The AJS and Matchless have been totally restored by the Museum’s own workshops to their customary impeccable standard, while the Velocette is presented in original and unrestored condition.

Vincents are always in demand and this sale provides plentiful opportunities for devotees of the Stevenage marque to expand their collections, there being no fewer than eight already consigned. Six are offered by the same private collector: a 1954 Black Shadow Series C (£40,000 – 50,000), c.1948 Rapide Series B (£17,000 – 20,000), 1949 Rapide Series C (£17,000 – 20,000), 1955 Rapide Series D (£18,000 – 22,000), 1969 Egli-Comet (£8,000 – 12,000) and 1951 Comet Series C (£8,000 – 10,000).

No sale at The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show would be complete without a selection of collectible Japanese motorcycles and Bonhams has some real rarities on offer this year. Consigned from the same private collection, these include a 1960 Lilac 300cc Lancer £3,800 – 4,200, 1959 Yamaguchi 49cc AP10 Autopet (£2,800 – 3,000), 1971 Bridgestone 350cc GTO (£4,000 – 4,500), 1966 Marusho 499cc Magnum (£3,500 – 4,500), 1956 Yamaha 125cc YA2 (£2,500 – 3,000) and 1959 Yamaha 125cc YA3 (£2,500 – 3,000). A 1919 Royal Ruby 269cc (£4,000 – 5,000) and 1953 Jonghi 250cc (£2,500 – 3,000), believed to be the only example in the UK, are offered by the same vendor.

Other noteworthy machines include a restored 1929 Brough Superior OHV 680 (£65,000 – 75,000); a one-owner 1967 Velocette Venom Thruxton (£15,000 – 18,000); and an ex-Robert Dunlop 1988 Honda RS125 (£8,000 – 12,000).

Automobilia highlights include a limited edition Graham London ‘TT Watch’ awarded to Manxman Dave Molyneux (14 times TT winner) for his and passenger Dan Sayle’s win in the 2009 Sidecar Race ‘A’ (£2,500 – 3,500); Junior and Senior Isle of Man TT race programmes dating from 1914 (£400 – 600 each); and a Brooklands silver motorcycle trophy awarded to competitor and author Charles Mortimer together with two of his books, ‘Brooklands: Behind the Scenes’ and ‘Racing a Sports Car’ (£150 – 200).

Ben Walker
(Head of Bonhams Collectors’ Motorcycle Department) says: “It’s another fabulous line-up already, encompassing the whole range of collectors’ motorcycles. Our sale at Stafford is clearly the auction to be at for anyone with a passion for old motorcycles!”


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