You've heard the old adage "Everything old is new again" and in 2015 it still relevant, what with Triumph Bonnevilles, Brough-Superiors, Indian Chiefs and Scouts, Norton Commandos, Kawasaki W800, Paul Smart replica Ducatis to name just a few. So why would a manufacturer make a old model new again, easy it's called easy money, Willie G Davidson said that the biggest threat to the Motor Co was not the Japanese it was his own product, earlier models ( this was before Polaris Indian) so manufactures make the replicas, machines of the past they where they won their loyal customers from. Most of the article here will be on more popular versions generally available and I won't be covering hens teeth motorcycles ,racing motorcycles, or the only one was made and none that ever got to Australia
The question on replicas are they worth investing in, back to 2005 the Vincent Owners Club manufactured a brand new 1952-53 Vincent Black Shadow to prove that they had all spares in stock to build a new motorcycle eventually it was put on the market and it sold for £10,000 less than a original machine, why? The VOC even stamped the crankcase in the old works yard in Stevenage Herts (now a school) it was as good as the ones made in the fifties but no it didn't sell as well as a old worn out version. So what's the story with all those Egli-Vincent's they are a good investment but at $100,000 they are ranging on buying a Vincent Rapide and having change, Norvins are the same never worth as much as a real McCoy
Getting on to sham models ie the new Norton and Triumph Bonneville, the T100 /T120 if you squint in a rainstorm on a foggy day at 50 yards it might just have you thinking it's a 1969 model, sadly it's a poor imitation not a sincerest form of flattery, it's heavy, with a "dumpy" back wheel and a motor that's full of air Edward Turner never spared money on hollow castings and minimalist in use of metal, Triumphs were lean and mean and were value for money unlike this stranded whale. The Norton has worse problems you can buy two 850 Commandos restored for the price of it (unlike the Triumph you can buy one 1970 for the price of the T100) so what makes it that good, well umm nothing.
We can cover the Moto-Guzzi V1000 replica of V750S and Ducati 1000 GT replica of 750GT and its the same the originals outgun the new versions as a investment. Indian Chief and Scouts are the same story again great bikes but as a investment, sorry but they have all got the gong
So what is a blue chip investment these days, easy a couple of hard and fast rules to adhere to
1. If it's old doesn't mean it's valuable
2. If it's as found it's worth much more, don't even clean it if it's over 60 years old
3. Grey Porridge (ride to work bikes) were sold cheap and cheerful and are not worth buying
4. Exotica was expensive and still is, good investment material
With these simple rules in mind you can buy a investment motorcycle to enjoy and break even, or buy a motorcycle like a BSA Gold Star that won't be nice to ride but it rises in price annually. Motorcycles like Sunbeam S7-S8, BSA A10, Norton ES2, AJS and Matchless singles and fragmenting Twins, Royal Enfields singles and twins are all enjoyable to ride but not investments. So what is rising Vincent Comets have gone from $20,000 to over $30,000 in under 12 months, Vincent twins rose about $5,000 to $10,000, Ducati 750 GT has risen $7,000 in the same period, Velocette Thruxton have gone up $5,000, BSA Gold Stars are about the same, the Ariel Square 4 is starting to accelerate $20,000. Triumph X-75 Hurricane are ballistic well over $30,000 a great investment, Pre-unit models are starting to move up when was the last rigid model you saw under $7,000 there all closer to $15,000 for clean original versions and double that for Bonnevilles of that era. BSA Rocket Gold Stars if certified are $25,000, Norton Internationals are close to $20,000, Indian 4s $80,000 to $90,000 every year rise. Chiefs rigid prewar models are almost impossible now to find and are heavily sought after $30,000 -$50,000, Scouts are starting to rise with none under $10,000 and some getting $25,000, British machines are worth much more it they have on some versions and makes a matching frame and engine number but beware of counterfeits, if you not sure get a expert in as the price can vary thousands of dollars
Grey Porridge can be nice but BSA A65, B31-33 Bantams, C10-C12, M20, as a rule of thumb any BSA model starting with C or M prefix is the greyest of grey porridge, Francis Barnett, James Captain, Triumph Cubs 3TA-5TA although T140V and late Trident BSA A65 (some versions) are memorable and many other brands are not worth investing in for a high return but are nice bikes to enjoy with a slow return which is sad
So what about Oriental and Italian, Ducati SS up to 1977, big dollars early 900SS R/hand gear change around $60,000 and green frame 750SS $80,000 plus Laverda SFC twins are phone numbers in price, the MV 750 the same. Japanese are starting to rise Z900 Kawasaki and the first Honda CB750 Four around $20,000,early Honda Z50 mini bikes are ridiculous prices, as are old Kawasaki W1 and W2 models and H1-H2 Triples, but Suzuki water bottles and rotaries not at all, the Honda 6 is another slow returner, things like Suzuki Hybusa are a great investment especially early carbureted versions, as are Yamaha early XS 650 twins, old Honda Dreams and 450 Black Bombers. I have a mate that rode RD & YDS Yamaha when he was younger and bought a new YDS in the crate for $30,000 3 years ago (now worth under $20,000) which proves that for younger generations the popular machines of their era are there idea of a Triumph Bonneville or BSA Clubman GoldStar is to older generations
These are hopeless unless it's a Zundapp, Adler, Horax, Victoria, or DKW. BMW are valueless unless a pre 1969 and R69s at that then they are great to ride and profitable the only other late model that rates is a R90s around $17,000 a sound model that most people want.
Indian, and especially the 4's, Pope, Flying Merkel, Thor, Henderson, Ace, and many others are sound investments, what about H-D you say not so good in comparison especially to their old rival Indian but some models the pre-war, & Knucklehead, XR-750, and the CR 1000 to name a few yes, others are not solid gold investment as the Motor Co advertised, more like scrap metal prices for some versions especially ones that are now made in India. Buell will with some models start to appreciate especially early versions before H-D became involved, all AMF Harley's are chronic and only now starting to very slightly appreciate so not a bike to get a large return on
Classic Bikes have become more desirable around the world and everyone has heard of the $8,000 Bantam, but generally good blue chip machines are wanted world wide. A mate of mine Cliff Rushworth from Ace Classics motorcycles in UK discussed this with me recently after bring a 40 ft container of pre-unit Triumphs back home from the USA he's flat out restoring and selling as many as he can get and buisness is brisk building Steve McQueen replicas that was like the one used in the Great Escape film, three sold this year and pre-unit Bonnevilles have standing orders most selling in US but European sales are up as well
Current motorcycles, hard to polish the crystal ball, short run models less than 1000 and one off versions that set the pace in a era like Suzuki Katana, radical designs can make them sought after they will come out and within 20 years if still in the box or crate will be desired
Components and parts are a good deal, speedos are a great example Corbin off Indian $1,800, British Smiths 3" Chronometric $350-$700 and Tacho's are the same these things are great if you can get them cheap, Vincent 5" Shadow speedo $2,000 speedos are always desired so are headlights ie Moto Lamp off Indian or Guide off H-D. Early Brass carbide or electric lighting sets are good investments that you can't go to far wrong on. Carburettors Amal GP and TT over $1,500 & Linkert, Schebler bring $700-$1,000! Literature and brochures have a strong following as well and it's worth checking prices on Amazon some out of print editions are up in the hundreds of dollars
Engines Vincent Twin $30,000 to $40,000 and odd things come along I saw a set of authenticated racing carbs of a record breaking Vincent sold recently for over $10,000 USD and a seat from a Lightning for the same price
Literature original manuals, brochures and factory parapanalia all good for profit
Basic thing to remember are, if a manufacturer had reintroduced a past era version again it's because it was desirable (unless it's a Iron H-D Sportster it's the exception which is still scrap metal price) the current clones will never be worth much but you can guarantee the original is so if you can get one for a reasonable price buy it as it's collectible.
Phil Pilgrim 2018