With the Bonhams Las Vegas auction coming up next week, we thought we would give y’all another look at some of the heavy weights and showstoppers that will be crossing the auction block  out in the desert. Some of the big boys you’d expect at a highball auction will surely be there; early big twins and prominent race winners, but as Bonhams is wont to do, there are some extremely-cool weirdos sprinkled in to taste. 

From our ‘Icons of 1980s Design’ article, the Vetter Mystery Ship is a thing of amazement, and is rocketing up in value today. [Bonhams]
1980 Kawasaki 750cc Mystery Ship

“Ride, Captain ride, on your mystery ship…” Here’s your chance to follow The Blues Image’s instruction. Part of what makes this bike so cool and noteworthy is that AMA hall of famer, Craig Vetter, best known for designing the Windjammer fairing that has empowered many a retiree to rip across the country with comfort and ease, designed the Triumph X-75 Hurricane and the Mystery Ship. The 1980 Kawasaki 750cc Mystery Ship is an odd and obscure motorcycle with performance clearly in mind. The Mystery Ship in any configuration is quite rare, but of the ten built, this one is probably the most collectible due to its rare fitting of the biggest turbo option of which only two were made. Oh, and its odometer only reads, 2 miles…so there’s that.   

Oh Bud, how we miss ye! Bud Ekins’ personal pre-war Triumph Speed Twin, just how he liked ’em. [Bonhams]
Ex-Bud Ekins 1938 Triumph 5T Speed Twin

Triumph certainly turned some heads in ‘37 with the introduction of the Speed Twin. Although there were vertical twins before the Triumph, but they were largely over built, clunky things. The Speed Twin revolutionized the design by making them lighter and more narrow which resulted in a massively popular model for the British marque. 

So, on their own, these early example vertical twins are iconic on their own with small production numbers that managed to find their way across the pod these have become quite collectable, but this one in particular belonged to the legendary racer and hero stuntman, Bud Ekins. Amazingly, this bike, while being well maintained mechanically, has held onto its Ekins patina. What a sight!

Not your daughter’s Elmo! Elmo Looper’s personal Big Tank Crocker is a piece of bona fide American motorcycle royalty. [Bonhams]
1940 Crocker Big Tank

The Big Tank twin is impossibly rare. This example being only one of roughly thirty made that year puts this bike squarely in the “rarer than chicken’s teeth” category. If this Crocker weren’t rare and cool enough on its own, this particular bike was previously owned by the last Captain of the Crocker ship, Elmo Looper. 

After the second great war, Crocker decided to leave motorcycle manufacturing behind and instead continue with the more profitable, yet in-arguably less cool industrial manufacturing. Elmo Looper was the man who bought all the leftover V-twin parts and started re-building and customizing Crockers. This bike has it all, the looks, the history, and the half a million dollar estimate.

The overhead-valve 680 model was the most popular Brough Superior, the ‘poor man’s SS100’, and so it remains today. [Bonhams]
1929 Brough Superior 680 Project

Rolls Royce on two wheels —  the Brough Superior was the final word on luxury motorcycling. The 680 OHV was the lighter, sporty younger sibling to the side valve model. For a bike meant to be the smaller, lighter bike and debuting in 1927, its 80mph top speed was pretty astounding. The Brough Superior Club Machine Registrar has confirmed that this 1929 Overhead 680 is a matching-numbers (frame, engine, gearbox) bike with standard Bentley & Draper sprung frame, Castle fork, and first year dual headlamp. After a few years of misfortune and despair this bike was left largely intact, but in rough shape. Although this bike is a bit of a project, it is far from your run-of-the-mill “ran when parked” craigslist ad.

Bobby Sirkegian was barely out of diapers when he began a career of scorching dragstrips, always on Triumphs. [Bonhams]
Ex-Bobby Sirkegian 1953 Triumph 650cc Drag Racing Motorcycle

This Triumph 650cc drag bike is the real deal. Fuel drag bikes are simply in their own category. A category so mean and so touchy that only the most fearless and experienced riders are able to make it in the white knuckled world of high test drag racing — and sometimes that rider is a 12-year old. Young Bobby Sirkegian raced this nitro racer from his dad’s dealership. This bike has clearly been modified for power in nearly every way conceivable for the time; bigger valves, flowed cylinder heads, special made cams, and bored carbs. WIth this bike and all its fuel guzzling mods with bobby pulling the throttle earned four national titles and 200 individual wins. 

A pile of parts with enough DNA from the Surtees family to justify purchase. [Bonhams]
Jack and John Surtees 1947 Vincent-HRD Rapide Series B Project

Here we have a few bits and pieces of a 1947 Vincent HRD Rapide B formally owned and raced by father and son, double world championship holder with motorcycle wins in ‘56, ‘58, ‘59, and ‘60. Shortly after those world titles on a bike, John Surtees goes on to win a World Championship for Ferrari in the F1 circuit in 1964. 

This Rapide appears to have been built to a very similar specification to the legendary “Gunga Din” HRD bike. Although this bike now comes to auction in project form, the bones of this Vincent have a long and storied past not only within the story of motorcycle racing, but within the history of F1 as well. 


Peter Corn is a writer in NYC and a Contributor to TheVintagent.com