Former Top Gear duo James May and Richard Hammond added celebrity excitement to Bonhams’ Spring Stafford sale, cheerily bidding and joking with auctioneer Malcolm Barber as their 12 motorcycles all found new homes, with Hammond’s 2010 Norton Commando 961SE their top lot at £15,180.
Overall Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale was a record success, totalling £2,262,109, with 86 per cent sold. Top of the Top Gear duo’s lots (pictured in the gallery below) was the Norton Commando, pictured left, being sold by Hammond with an estimate of £14,500-£18,500. May and Hammond had declined to renew their Top Gear contracts after colleague Jeremy Clarkson’s was not renewed following a clash with a producer.
British machines proved immensely popular, with 90% of the top 10 lots legendary British marques Vincent, Brough and Coventry. The 1939 Vincent HRD Series-A Rapide motorcycle took the sale top spot. Once rescued from scrap and originally purchased in exchange for a mere £10 and an Amal TT carburetor, the fully restored Vincent pictured below sold for £275,900 to a bidder in the room.
Other British motorcycle highlights included the 1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine (£138,140); 1955 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series-D (£72,060); 1926 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying Eight (£106,780), and the 1933 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp Project sold at a stunning £52,900 – more than four times top estimate.
Ben Walker, international director of Bonhams Motorcycle department, was overjoyed at the sale’s £2.2m record success. He said: “We’ve seen some fantastic prices, with new precedents being set. The level of enthusiasm at Stafford is always brilliant, with people travelling from across the globe to attend.”
Malcolm Barber, Bonhams co-chairman and auctioneer of the sale, said the sale showed a buoyant market at this season opener. “We saw many new collectors entering the market with strong bidding from English collectors and continentals alike. We witnessed investment bidding, but the market as usual is supported by enthusiasts.”