It might be the beginning of a whole new year, but some things remain the same. For one thing, collectors are going to collect—and you know what? Vintage bike lovers really love Brough Superiors, extremely rare early-1900s racing machines, and 1970s-era Italian motorcycles. (I mean, can you blame them?)
Most of this is probably not surprising to you in the least, but it’s always interesting to see what kinds of prices these machines of yesteryear are commanding at auction. Lucky for us, the Classic Motorcycle Channel did a handy roundup of the top 10 most expensive bikes that sold at UK auctions throughout 2022, and as you’d expect, it’s quite a list.
While there are some museum pieces in CMC’s list, what’s perhaps most impressive about it is that many of these bikes—regardless of age—are in rideable condition, or are, at the very least, running. Also, although many of these bikes have been fully restored, not all of them have been—including the most expensive bike sold in the UK for the year.
The 10th most expensive bike sold in the UK in 2022 was a 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands ‘Hundred Model’ Lacey Replica machine, which was raced back in the day by Edmond ‘Boy’ Tubb. It reportedly went for £90 when it was new. That means, adjusted for inflation, that it would go for about £7,315 in 2023. What did it actually sell for at auction? This rare machine brought in a cool £74,750.
Other standouts on the list include two different MV Agusta 750S machines (one from 1970, the other from 1973), a 1929 Coventry-Eagle Flying 8 E120, and a staggeringly gorgeous 1974 Ducati 750SS with a restoration so clean, you could probably eat off of it.
Two American machines also made a dent. The first was a 1927 Indian speedway machine with full documentation dating all the way back to when it was new. Ridden by famed racer Art Pechar, it broke speed records, is fully authenticated, and also fully restored. When the hammer came down, it sold for £92,500. This made it to CMC’s number seven spot on its top 10 most expensive UK auction bikes sold in 2022.
Coming in at number four on the list was a 1934 Crocker. However, unlike so many Crockers we’ve seen in recent years, it wasn’t a twin. Instead, it was something that may be even rarer—a single. This ultra-rare machine was also fully authenticated and restored, and was raced to great success in its time by “Red” Rice. This machine pulled in £126,500.
A total of three Brough Superiors made the CMC list in 2022. The channel’s number eight most expensive machine was a 1924 Brough Superior SS80 with a full restoration and documentation dating all the way back to when it was new, which must be absolutely amazing to thumb through. This bike pulled in £80,500.
The other two Broughs on the list took the top two spots, and are a pair of SS100s—but that’s where the similarities end. The number two most expensive bike on this list is a 1936 Brough Superior SS100 with a Matchless engine, and is considered an extremely early example of this specification of bike. It’s not in perfect condition, despite having a full restoration sometime in the late 1960s, because apparently it didn’t have the best storage for the past decade or so. That’s why it only (only) went for £235,750. (Hey, everything’s relative, right?)
Holding down the top spot was perhaps the most special Brough Superior SS100 still in existence. (At any rate, it’s definitely got to be somewhere on that list.) It’s a 1929 Brough Superior SS100 ‘Alpine Grand Sport’ Sprint Special, in total barn find condition—not at all restored, and with an incomparable patina.
This bike, at one time, belonged to racer Reg Barton, which is cool enough. However, cooler still is the fact that it’s been heavily modified for competition since sometime in the 1950s. The JAP engine inside is not at all original, but it’s extra-extra-super-duper-can't-even-be-quantified-levels-of-special.
Why? It was modified and tuned by none other than land-speed record holder (at that time) Eric Fernihough, prior to his death at the age of 33 while trying to set another land-speed record in Hungary. This extremely special, one-of-a-kind machine fetched £253,000.