4 vintage motorcycles worth breaking the bank for

From a brilliant Brough Superior to an AED 2 million vintage Vincent, here are four retro motorcycles coming up for auction soon.

Peter Iantorno March 8, 2015

There's no substitute for history, and buying vintage is buying history.

Sure, you could always spend your money on a brand new 2015 Harley-Davidson, or this awesome Tron-inspired superbike from Lotus, but will either of those have the same heritage as a 70-odd-year-old motorcycle that survived the Second World War? The answer is "no", of course, which is why the offerings from British auction house Bonhams are so appealing to us.

Usually associated with art, the company's motorcycle department has managed to lay its hands on a stunning selection of vintage machines, which it is auctioning off in Stafford, UK. The auction isn't until April the 26th, but we suggest you use this time to start saving, as the most expensive bike - the stunning 1939 Vincent Series-A - is estimated to go for close to AED 2 million, and we defy any vintage bike fan to not fall in love with it.

Here are four of our favourite motorcycles from the show that we'll be instructing our man in Stafford to bid on:

1939 Vincent-HRD 998cc Series-A Rapide 

Believed to be the penultimate motorcycle out of the factory before production of the ultra-rare Vincent Series-A ceased in 1939, this stunningly beautiful motorcycle has, amazingly, been kept in the same family since April 1955. Capable of a rival-thrashing 180km/h in its day, the Rapide has been restored to its former glory with a full and thorough refit, leaving it matching the exact factory specs it had when it rolled off the production line, right down to even maintaining its original registration number.

It's incredibly rare to see any Series-A come on to the market, not least one in such amazing condition that has been in the same family for more than 60 years! So if you manage to welcome this beauty into your family, our advice would be to never let it go. 

Estimate: AED 1.6 million - AED 1.9 million. 

1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp

Retaining its original frame, engine, gearbox and fuel tank, this is the very motorcycle that was put on display on the Brough stand in the 1937 Earls Court Motorcycle Show. Since then it has been making use of its powerful 1,096cc engine to haul a sidecar at speeds of up to 120km/h for a Mr William Forbes of London.

It was then sold again in 1971 and its recently deceased owner spent some 16 years restoring it to its former glory. Included in the purchase price will be an old-style logbook featuring charming vintage photographs of the motorcycle and the Forbes family.

Estimate: AED 220,000 - AED 290,000. 

1928 Indian Type 401 Four

Smuggled into the UK from Czechoslovakia before the fall of the Berlin Wall, this 1928 Indian Four was clearly worth the trouble. In extremely poor condition, it was bought by its current owner in 1988, and lovingly restored from top to bottom by a team of specialists - the engine alone took some four years to get back to the way it was. During the restoration, flecks of red paint were found on the previously black bike's crank cases. This caused the owner to research the bike's history, and find that it was originally red, before it had been painted over some time in the past, so he decided to restore it to its original striking colour.

The full restoration was completed in 2000, and only a handful of miles have been completed since then, although it will of course require the customary safety checks and recommissioning, should you wish to drive it on the road again.

Estimate: AED 470,000 - AED 510,000. 

1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine

Half the battle when buying a vintage motorcycle is accounting for its history, which is why this splendid Brough Superior is such a catch. It has a carefully observed history, known right from the moment it was sold in 1930 to a Mr D. R. Venables in Oxford, through Mr Venables' continental tour to Switzerland and the South of France, the next owner Mr Chris Arthurs' 40-year ownership, and finally the present owner, who's cherished the bike for the past 44 years.

It comes with extensive documentation, old photographs and even magazine clippings of articles written about it. When you buy this bike you're buying a genuine piece of history.

Estimate: AED 510,000 - AED 730,000. 

Image credits: Bonhams