By Shannon “Dazzlin” Venturo
Additional Photos Courtesy Mecum.com
The Mecum Motorcycle Auction has become a staple in Las Vegas now. The family-owned vehicle auction company from Wisconsin brought the motorcycle auction to town for a second spectacular event this year. Making it back-to-back years as a double-header in the city of lights.
Las Vegas has a strong international audience that appreciates classic motorcycles. Mecum is attempting to make its summer event as attractive as its more grandiose January motorcycle auction. I personally happen to enjoy the June event as Mecum sponsors a fun, informative VIP-style preview party to kick it off.
The preview party featured a Q&A session with four Racing Legends– Brad Lackey, Eddie Lawson, Kenny Roberts and Bubba Shobert.
Brad Lackey became an expert-ranked rider in the 1970s. In 1972 he won the first U.S. National Championship. He was the first and only American Motocross World Champion and went on to be inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame as well as the Motorsports Hall of Fame. We got a first-hand look at a couple of Brad’s motorcycles too! Brad was called the “James Dean of Motorcycle racing.”
“Steady” Eddie Lawson started riding competitively at about the age of twelve. He followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps. He won the 500cc World Championship four times in the 1980s and was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Kenny Roberts achieved 47 AMA Nationals wins. Kenny is known as a trailblazer in the sport. He said, “You look back and you think, “Who was before me? Who paved the way for me? If people consider me a pioneer, who were those that really started the sport, who was well before me?”
Don “Bubba” Shobert began racing professionally in 1980, earning four top-ten finishes and the title of AMA Grand National Rookie of the Year in his first year. “Bubba” shared stories, after playfully fighting over the microphone with Kenny, which had the audience full belly-laughing.
Hondas, Harleys, Triumphs and Indian motorcycles were on display at the show held at the South Point Hotel and Casino. This property is a local favorite. The auction sales totaled over $3 Million as about 270 motorcycles changed owners in 48 hours.
There was a tie for first place in top sales recognition, as each sold for a whopping $88,000. The first to go was a 1929 Cleveland Tornado Four Cylinder. This bike was from the Jim Lattin Collection, bragged of extreme rarity and possessed an ownership resume that was quite impressive.
The Jim Lattin Collection was billed as “The Main Attraction”. According to Mecum’s buyers guide, Lattin’s first vintage motorcycles were a 1908 Reading Standard and a 1910 Excelsior, both in bad need of repair. Lattin still owns the Reading Standard, and he said he remains fascinated with the engineering feats of old motorcycles, noting that, “The exposed mechanical linkage on many of these old bikes is a true work of art that I especially enjoy.” And, “It is fascinating how the early motorcycle racers competed five times a week, lived/died and were considered the rock stars of the era,” explained Lattin. “The repairs, modifications and the innovations that were implemented on these racing motorcycles was amazing.”
Although Lattin is known to be a kid at heart, he will be 82 years young in August, and he doesn’t ride bikes on the street any longer. He is currently building a streamliner that is expected to run more than 400 mph. Lattin explained, “The slowing-down process is gradual, and as part of it, I have made the choice to let go of some of the fine motorcycles in my collection.”
“After raising hell and going fast all of my life, I’m choosing to slow down a bit to enjoy my kids, my grandkids and to spend more loving quality time with my ol’ lady. Life can be a great ride!”
The other top seller was a 1913 Harley-Davidson 9A 5-35 Single featuring original paint with leather belt drive and a beautifully restored engine. Next in line among top sales was a stunning 1912 Indian Big Base 8-Valve that brought $82,500, followed by a one-of-a-kind 2008 NCR Ducati Mike Hailwood TT that sold for $77,000. I chatted with the new owner, Michael Corbino from Longboat Key, FL. He said he loves Ducati and this machine caught his eye.
The Ducati brand played a leading role at the auction. Not only did two fine examples of this iconic brand rank in the top ten for this auction sales results, but a true one-of-a-kind custom 2017 Ducati Scrambler Icon, designed by famed tattoo artist GRIME was offered for sale, with all proceeds benefiting the Shriners Hospital for Children. My father was burned terribly as a child and spent the better part of two years in the Phoenix Shriners Hospital, so this story caught my attention. The unique motorcycle was customized as part of Ducati North America’s Inaugural “Maverick” program, and Steve Myers was the bidder that heard the gavel drop to the tune of $42,900 on this sale for the Shriners organization.
Mecum also is heavily involved in raising money to benefit Curing Kids Cancer. To date they have donated over $4 million to the organization. The June Las Vegas auction was no exception. A bike built by Jesse James of West Coast Choppers crossed the block and Mr. Benoit Pecqueur is the proud new owner. He was in town for the rodeo and happened upon the auction. He beamed with pride as he was able to help an amazing cause, while scoring a very rare and limited production bike. The titled custom chopper features a 120 CI Accurate Engineering Outlaw panhead engine. Jesse James’ signature done in gold leaf is built into the fuel tank.
Time to reveal my personal show favorite: a 1912 Reading Standard Single Delivery. Also from the Jim Lattin Collection, “The San Francisco Fish Co. Moonlight Express.” These bikes were used during the early years of prohibition to sell whiskey! This delivery motorcycle supplied the thirsty residents of San Francisco with bootleg whiskey and bathtub gin. Under the watchful eye of the SF Police Department, they would hide the booze under the fresh fish and crab on ice. They would roll through the streets ringing bells and tooting their horns. I found the story fascinating. I spoke with Robert Richardson, the new owner. He told me he owns several of these types of vintage motorcycles and was thrilled to add this to his growing collection.
Greg Arnold, motorcycle auction manager, commented. “Mecum Auctions consistently brings the strongest lineup to be found anywhere.”
I chatted with the exhausted auctioneers at the close of the event. This is a top notch group of professionals. I’m told, the best in the business. They all spoke highly of the Mecum brand and were still smiling and having a great time after a long weekend.
The complete top 10 motorcycle sales at the June 2018 Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction include:
1. 1929 Cleveland Tornado Four Cylinder at $88,000
2. 1913 Harley-Davidson 9A 5-35 Single at $88,000
3. 1912 Indian Big Base 8-valve at $82,500
4. 2008 NCR Ducati Mike Hailwood TT at $77,000
5. 1942 Harley-Davidson FL at $77,000
6. 1975 Ducati 750SS at $71,500
7. 1937 Indian Chief with Sidecar at $66,000
8. 1914 Harley-Davidson 11K at $55,000
9. 1959 BMW R60 with TR500 Steib Sidecar
10. 1929 BMW R62 at $50,600
For access to complete auction results, sign up for the free InfoNet service offered at Mecum.com. According to the Mecum officials, the 28th Annual Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction will return to the South Point Hotel & Casino Jan. 22-26, 2019, with an anticipated 1,750 motorcycles to cross the auction block. I’ll see you there!
Meanwhile, join the Mecum faithful at Monterey, California for “The Daytime Auction” August 23-25. For more details on upcoming auctions, to consign a vehicle or to register as a bidder, visit Mecum.com, or call (262) 275-5050 for more information.