10 Most Expensive Vintage Motorbikes Made In America

Vintage Motorbikes
Credit: SplitShire / Pixabay.com

Over the last quarter-century, vintage motorbikes have been climbing in value. And for those who love motorbikes in the U.S., owning a vintage, American-made motorbike is often at the top of their wish list.

So as prices climb, these are some of the most expensive vintage motorbikes made in the United States (and amazingly, a Harley-Davidson isn’t #1).

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Are Vintage Motorbikes Worth Investing In?

(photo: unsplash)

Vintage motorbikes are something worth investing in. Like all investments, you need to understand and know the market you’re trying to get into.

Those who are inexperienced with motorbikes, in general, should opt for some heavy learning, but if you’re a fanatic who wants to get their hands on some real history with these bikes, then it’s a great option.

This is one of the many options that you can get into and see that these bikes are worth more as the years go by. Several of these vintage bikes are one of the first builds of many, and if you can get your hands on some of the more rare, unique, and few bikes, you’re looking at having a pretty good investment.

What Makes A Motorbike Vintage?

But looking through the list, you might be wondering what makes a bike vintage.

Simply put, these classic, vintage bikes have to be at least 25 years old. Several of these listed below are over that time frame, getting into the 70 or even a hundred years old. That being said, vintage simply is the age of a bike.

Most Expensive Vintage Bike Ever?

If we’re looking at all vintage motorcycles in the world, there can be a lot more added to the list. However, we’re only looking at America here. But what if we looked elsewhere? Which vintage motorcycle is the most expensive compared to them all?

Interestingly enough, it’s not the one on our list. The 1951 Vincent Black Lightning is the most valuable vintage motorcycle.

This motorbike was a Vincent-HDR motorcycle that was first built in September 1948 at the Vincent works in Great North Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK, and was produced from 1948 to 1952. At this time, this bike was also the fastest in the world. The bike sold at Bonhams auction for an astonishing $929,000.

Most Expensive Vintage Motorbikes Made in America

10. 1942 Crocker V-Twin Big Tank – $385,000

Most Expensive Vintage Motorbikes Made In America
(Photo: Mecum.com)

The California-based Crocker only produced 72 V-twin motorbikes and the Big Tank is one of them.

The manufacturing process was halted after the Second World War, which increased the value of its motorbikes – making them rare and expensive.

The bike features aluminum fuel tanks, along with a 3-speed transmission. With countless other features, the 1942 Big Tank was the most advanced motorbike at the time of its production.

It was sold for $385,000 at the EJ Cole Collection sale in 2015 making it the most expensive Crocker bike ever sold.

9. 1911 Flying Merkel Board Track Racer – $423,000

Most Expensive Vintage Motorbikes Made In America
(Photo: Mecum.com)

The 1911 Flying Merkel Board Track Racer only raced for one year before World War I:

Its distinctive fuel tank shape and orange paint gave it a unique look. The design was built to conquer the then-newly established dirt track.

This bike was owned by the Suttle family and had been in storage for over 70 years after the Second World War. It was auctioned at a Mecum auction in 2015, where it was sold for $423,000.

8. 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650 – $450,000

(Photo: cycleworld.com)

The 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650 is a 650cc high-compression vintage motorbike – that was manufactured in England…

So why is it on this list?

Well, only 174 bikes were manufactured over two years of production. One of which was owned by American musician Buddy Holly.

This icon of music made the bike famous – or infamous depending on your perspective, as Buddy Holly died in a plane crash back in 1959. This bike, at a Guernsey Auction in 2014 sold for $450,000.

7. 1912 Henderson Four, $490,000

(Photo: autoweek.com)

In 2017 there was a sale in Las Vegas that sold over 1,000 vintage motorcycles, and one of them with a price tag of just under half a million.

This top-seller was the 1912 Henderson Four, an unrestored model made in the first year of Henderson’s existence that still has the original paint and tires. Amongst all of the cycles there, this was not only the most sought-after but the top bid.

The four cylinders total 934 ccs, or 57 cubic inches, with inlet-over-exhaust valves and a single-speed chain drive. Three other Hendersons made the top-10 seller list as well, but this one holds the prize for being one of the most expensive vintage motorcycles made in America.

6. 1939 Crocker Big Tank, $550,000

(Photo: mecum.com)

One of the most expensive vintage motorbikes comes once again from Crocker. Another big sale at Mecum auctions has collectors everywhere turning their heads.

The 1939 Crocker Big Tank is the second motorbike on the list, which only shows the importance of preserving these vintage rides. This bike in particular is part of the MC Collection of Stockholm and listed in the Crocker Rigstry.

It is a restored bike that was done in Germany, however, it was overseen by a Crocker expert, Chuck Vernon. During the auction in Las Vegas in 2019, this bike was sold for over $500,000.

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5. 1910 Winchester 6HP, $580,000

(photo: newatlas.com)

Winchester Repeating Arms holds a big place in American history for producing the “gun that won the West”. But besides guns, the company commissioned Edwin F. Merry Company of San Francisco to build 200 motorcycles bearing its name from 1909 to 1911.

Out of all those bikes, only two are still known to exist, and they both crossed auctions at Worldwide Auctioneers in 2013, with a 1910 model setting a world record at that time with a staggering $580,000 value, and the other being a 1909 model with a $520,000 value.

The 1910 bike is powered by a single-cylinder, six hp engine, has a total-loss battery ignition system and a direct belt drive. It’s incredible that something so rare and unique crosses the auction block, and is a worthwhile purchase for collectors.

4. 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank – $650,000

Most Expensive Vintage Motorbikes Made In America
(Photo: Hemmings.com)

Every bike lover knows about Harley-Davidson but the 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank is a rare gem, as only one of them still exists.

The last surviving piece of the 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank is currently living a retired life at a museum in Oxnard, California. Completely un-restored the bike is still in its original position.

The estimated price of the bike was $800,000 to $1,000,000, but surprisingly it was sold at a much lower price of $650,000.

The 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank holds the title of being the most expensive Harley-Davidson bike ever.

3. 1937 Crocker “Small Tank”, $715,000

(photo: mecum.com)

Another Crocker motorbike enters the list, and it won’t be the last. This 1937 Crocker Small Tank bike was sold in Monterey in the 2019 Mecum auctions.

With a high price tag, the winning bid was above $700,000, making it one of the most expensive vintage motorbikes made in America.

In 2013 it was a full restoration by 1356Venice engineers Les and Jolly, and is one of the most sought-after vintage bikes.

2. 1936 Crocker “Small Tank”, $825,500

(photo: mecum.com)

Similar to the one above, this is yet another Crocker Small Tank bike that was sold in Monetery in the 2019 Mecum auctions.

What makes this one so unique, however, is that this vintage motorcycle is one of the original 14 hand-built Crockers by Al Crocker and Paul Bigsby and is believed to be the only unrestored true Crocker.

If you’re a vintage motorbike collector, definitely keep an eye out for more bikes like this in the future, as they’re worth quite a bit to get your hands on.

1. 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer – $852,500

Most Expensive Vintage Motorbikes Made In America
(Photo: Mecum.com)

The 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer is one of the rarest motorbikes ever manufactured in the United States.

There are currently only 12 of these bikes in existence, from the 300 manufactured during a three-year production run.

One of the 1915 Cyclone Board Track racers owned by actor Steve McQueen was sold at an auction for $852,500 back in 2015.

Nikole Stewart is a writer and editor with three years of experience writing keen articles on topics such as... More about Nikole Stewart