Ducati, MV Agusta, Vincent, and Megola at Bonhams Charity Auction
Philanthropist and businessman Robert White died in 2015, leaving his Robert White Collection of motorcycles (and various other sundries) to be auctioned off for charity. Bonhams will be handling the September 2016 auction at its New Bond Street location in London, with Ben Walker, Head of Department, Motorcycles for Bonhams acting as Specialist. White’s impressive collection includes a 1929 Megola 640 Touring, 1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow, 1974 Ducati 750 SS, 1976 MV Agusta 750S America, plus a recreation of an MV Agusta 500 GP racer.
“Robert White was a great man and an enthusiast of all things mechanical. The sale is a showcase of his life’s passion, with more than 500 lots set to raise more than £2 million for charity,” said Malcolm Barber, Bonhams Co-Chairman. “The collection is the result of a life’s passion for photography—Robert was the founder of one of the UK’s leading photographic retailers—and his adoration for motorcycles. We’re delighted to be able to offer this for sale, and for such a great charitable cause.”
White, who died of cancer, sold Brough Superiors to Jay Leno before his death, with the funds going to projects overseen by the Dorset Cancer Centre on England’s southern coast. The same charity will benefit from the Bonhams auction.
1974 Ducati 750 SS. This supersport Ducati desmo L-twin put out 72 horsepower while spinning up to an impressive 9500 rpm. Built in the aftermath of Ducati’s important 1972 win at the Imola 200, this is the first year of the SS. The 750 SS featured a top speed of 136 mph, triple disc brakes, a pair of 40mm Dell’Orto carbs, and tipped the scales at 412 pounds dry.
1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow. Producing 54 horses and capable of hitting 125 mph, the Series C Black Shadow was a serious performance motorcycle. Fully suspended (cantilever rear suspension similar to the later 1970s Yamaha monoshocks, Vincent Girdraulic forks) and weighing in at 500 pounds wet, the 998cc 50-degree OHV twin was fed by a pair of 29mm Amal carbs.
MV Agusta 500 Three. Giacomo Agostini rode MV Agusta 500s to seven consecutive World Championships from 1966 to 1972, cementing the legacy of this incredible racing motorcycle. Phil Read followed it up with World Championship runs in 1973 and 1974. Top speed was 162 mph, and the GP bike sported a 7-speed transmission. Even as late in 1973, it still used drum brakes—quad-cam in the front and twin-cam in the rear. The triple revved to 12,000 rpm and put out 78 horsepower. It’s worth noting that the bike shown is a GP replica build, rather than an authentic Read or Agostini championship mount.
1976 MV Agusta 750S America. Few motorcycles are more iconic than the appropriately red, white, and blue 1976 MV Agusta 750S America. Top speed of the exotic inline-4 was in the range of 135 mph, and it put out about 75 horsepower.
1929 Megola 640 Touring. With a five-cylinder Fokker engine integrated into its front wheel and no transmission or clutch, the Megola 640 Touring is certainly an unusual motorcycle. Amazingly, in addition to being used for touring, there were also racing versions of the German-made Megola 640 with a traditional motorcycle seat.
“Robert White loved his motorcycles, and this is no more evident than when we look at the incredible machines he had in his collection,” said Walker. “Robert had his own personal motoring museum and workshop where he took great pleasure in showing people his carefully curated items. He was a true enthusiast who appreciated each and every part of these exhilarating machines.” Godspeed, Mr. White.
Photography courtesy of Bonhams.