Community Classic and Custom Motorcycles Racing at 100mph with no Brakes: McQueen Indian to Bonhams

Racing at 100mph with no Brakes: McQueen Indian to Bonhams

1914 Indian Model F
1914 Indian Model F

1914 Indian Model F on the Bonhams Auction Block

The 1914 Indian Model F will join machines from three collections as part of a 240-strong offering of Pioneer, Vintage and Collectors’ motorcycles at the Bonhams sale at the International Classic MotorCycle Show in Stafford, UK, on Sunday, April 28.

This Indian will be the highlight due to being an early racing motorcycle once owned by legendary Hollywood actor Steve McQueen.

The 1914 Indian Model F, estimated to realize between $33,600 – $42,800 (£22,000 and £28,000), is an example of a board-track racing motorcycle. These early purpose-built motorcycles lacked a clutch, throttle and brakes, and were push-started and run flat-out – often reaching speeds of up to 100mph – until the end of the race, when the rider would short the magneto to stall the engine.

Restored by a marque specialist, the 4hp machine was purchased by its current owner at a Bonhams auction in Carmel, California, USA, in May 2010, and has since been housed in his private collection.

Ben Walker (Head of the Bonhams Motorcycle Department) says: “The men who raced these early board-track motorcycles were not only pioneers and champions of early motor racing but must also have been incredibly brave. In this age of health and safety the idea of riding at up to 100mph with no helmet or protective clothing, knowing you have no way of stopping in a hurry, is a terrifying thought – but this is what they did.”

The Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale will offer a total of 242 motorcycles, with many coming from private collections.

An eclectic selection of 31 machines owned by the late Clifford Jones features a number of 1950s ‘cafe racers’, as well as much modern-day racing and superbike machinery including several Ducati 916 Sennas and 999 Desmosedici Casey Stoner Replicas.

Some 28 motorcycles from another single-owner collection include 15 Triumphs, from a 1953 Speed Twin to a 1982 TSX, with estimates ranging between £2,000 and £8,000.

Among other sale highlights is a trio of Broughs – including a 1926 Brough Superior SS80/100 (estimate £160,000 – £200,000)  and a 1931 SS80 (estimate £50,000 – £70,000) from the same vendor – and an early Brough, a 1921 Model G estimated at £20,000 – £30,000.

Meanwhile the fully-restored ex-works Vincent Black Shadow which formed part of the factory’s bid to set a new 24-hour speed record at Montlhéry in France in May 1952 is estimated to realise between £110,000 and £130,000.

Among an array of Pioneer machines on offer is a largely-untouched 1913 Excelsior 61ci Model 7C Twin from a significant private collection (estimate £35,000 – £45,000), a fully-restored 1913 Rex 896cc V-twin (estimate £18,000 – £22,000), and a restored 1905 Peugeot 3½hp V-twin (estimate £18,000 – £22,000).

Ben Walker say: “Our annual spring sale at the International Classic MotorCycle Show – our first on the UK auction season calendar – has traditionally been a very successful sale for us.

“We are delighted to return to Stafford with another wide and eclectic offering of important motorcycles, ‘barn-find’ restoration projects and affordable classics.”

To view the online catalogue for this auction visit: bonhams.com/auctions/21135.

The sale will take place at the Staffordshire County Showground, ST18 0BD. Lots included in the auction will be available to view between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, and from 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 28.

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