Monday, June 1, 2009


Rick Parkington from Classic Bike recently wrote with his notes regarding the changing 'scene' for old motorcycles; it's worth sharing.

Hi Paul,
Did you get your Rex-Acme yet? I reluctantly gave Ewan McGregor his TT8 back, he seemed pleased with it. He was also very taken with my grubby old '35 Inter. I tell you, change is in the air; over here there seems to be an attitude shift, kids are as likely to give an old vehicle a thumbs up as catcalls. I feared that
with bikes now principally the preserve of the over-40s, kids would view them like caravans and golf trolleys - but apparently not. Additionally there is much more interest in unrestored bikes and charm seems to score over concours shine, may be wishful thinking on my part but I had an interesting conversation with a friend my age at Stafford. He was keen on an unrestored New Imperial 500 ohv at £5000.
A very established collector friend scoffed at the price but Rob had the money and liked the bike. I didn't find out whether he bought it - but the point was the 'established collector' was ridiculed 15 years ago for paying 'stupid money' for a basket case SS100. Needless to say he has since sold it for a huge profit. Things change. The collector will have seen a not particularly special thirties bike, factored in the cost of painting, plating etc and decided that the price wasn't justified. But, Rob wouldn't want to restore it so these costs are immaterial and if, as I suspect, unrestored bikes are the future, that New Imp will have a value because of its condition, regardless of the provenance of the marque or model. I never really lusted after a cammy Norton but I bought mine simply because of its condition. When Ewan rode it he said, "If you ever find another one of this condition and everything I mean..let me know"
I rest my case!

Jim Moore at the mag [Classic Bike] was banging on about the series A Vinnie that sold for £250,000 and how it was a disgrace that old bikes are removed so far from the reach of ordinary enthusiasts... but I had a thought about that too. First as I pointed out to him, they only made 80-odd series As so they are out of reach anyway but there's more. Absurdly valuable old bikes give the whole movement some kudos in the eyes of society. The neighbours of the guy working on his Francis Barnett in a tiny council house shed whisper 'I heard that some of these old bikes are worth a fortune' and the guy gets a bit more respect. It has a knock on effect that makes everybody feel involved although at different levels, isn't that why fake designer labels sell? Maybe it's not exactly the same as the celebs wear but it's in the same ball park...
I reckon if old bikes have celebrity style kudos with the general public it can only help make them interesting to young people and keep the whole thing going. It will be different to the steam-fair and swap-meet world of the past, but if the choice is between that and all this stuff going to the scrap yard it's no contest!
Thought for the day, all the best,


(the photos were taken at the Coupe Moto Legende in Dijon, May 30/31, 2009, and show a broad age spectrum in attendance... hope for the future?)