Thursday, February 18, 2010


Bonhams has scored another coup in selling a large private motorcycle collection, a feat they've repeated 3 times in the past 12 months - someone is on the ball! The 'Pamplona' Collection comes up under the hammer on Feb. 27, 2010, and is a Spanish assemblage of over 100 machines, carefully selected by someone with good taste, although the collection contains enough idiosyncracies to pique the interest of even the jaded auction-hound.
My favorite machine on offer is this 1937 Böhmerland 'Langtouren' (top pic), a marque very rarely available, as only 30 are thought to exist. Designer Albin Liebisch built what he felt was the ideal touring machine, capable of carrying three passengers, the legally sanctioned limit in far-seeing Czechoslovakia. The ohv engine has has a 603cc capacity from 80x120mm bore/stroke. And what quirky machine would be complete without a 'World's First' in the description - in this case, it's the cast aluminum wheels, used nearly four decades before Campagnolo began building their own magnesium (and crack-prone) mags for Italian race hardware. The great weight of the Böhmerland's wheels may have discouraged experimentation! Nonetheless, it would take a mighty blow to deflect his innovation, whereas broken spokes were fairly commonplace on the crappy country roads of rural Europe. Liebisch also designed two-person machines with a shorter wheelbase, and even a Sports model for competitions, although I've never seen one of these in the metal, or even a photo - do any exist?
And, I promise to publish a Road Test here in The Vintagent - stay tuned.

Fabulous machine #2 is this 1933 Soyer SA5C racer, in 'as last raced' condition, with a fantastic homemade exhaust system worthy of a cameo in 'No Limit'. Soyer was founded in 1919 in Colombes, France, and used various proprietary engines, although they contracted with Swiss engineer Walter Freudenfelder to build a 'face-cam' ohc in 1929, which did well in competitions. Perhaps to avoid development costs needed to modernize their cammy racer, in 1932 Soyer used Sturmey-Archer (read: Raleigh) engines of a robust but conventional ohv construction. The marketing division as S-A must have worked overtime, for quite a few companies used this engine in their competition machinery, at the TT and on the Continent, which found but modest success. The great era of the bought-in racing engine seeing success on the racetrack were at an end: the purpose-built ohc single-cylinder racer was on the ascendant, soon to be supplanted itself by the multi-cylinder Works racer, with supercharger. This Soyer is certainly an incredibly rare opportunity to own an untouched, time-warp racer.

From the Bohhams press release:
"The Pamplona Collection represents an important group of motorcycles assembled by a prominent Spanish private collector. Over 100 in number, this extraordinarily diverse collection includes a brace of De Dion Bouton-engined machines dating from the closing years of the 19th Century, as well as nine 4-cylinder models from the likes of FN, Ace, Cleveland, Excelsior, Henderson, Indian, Nimbus and Zündapp. V-twin engined motorcycles are another predominant theme, with no fewer than 18 in the collection including examples from Harley-Davidson, Sunbeam, Vincent, Motosacoche, Peugeot, Matchless, BSA and, of course, Brough Superior in the form of a 1931 SS100. Rare marques represented include Vindec, Wanderer, Acme, Rikuo, Böhmerland, PMZ, Griffon, Standard, Diamant, Laurin & Klement, Phebus and Mabeco.The collection was assembled over the past few years for the enjoyment of the owner’s friends and family, and was housed at various locations before coming to its purpose-built museum home 12 months ago. Almost all of the machines were in running condition at time of purchase, since when they have been carefully stored."