30 Most Expensive Vintage Motorcycles, Ranked by Value
Many classic motorcycle riders and collectors simply have a passion for vintage motorbikes and love to ride them in rallies, tour with them or just keep them on display. However, vintage motorcycles are also an increasingly good investment.
Sales of vintage motorcycles have doubled since 2000, and prices have risen steadily. Bikes with documented histories that show famous owners or a history of race wins can easily sell for low- to mid-six figures. Pre-1970 motorbikes seem set to double in cost every 10 years.
Some brands routinely command the highest prices — think Brough Superior, Crocker and Vincent. That's because they're from the pre- and post-World War II eras, which created small runs of handmade motorcycles, with engines and frames tailored to individual customers, who were typically race-car drivers or former racers.
Due to the small production nature and high cost of these motorcycles, few were made at the time, and even fewer still survive. For these reasons, these vintage bikes are highly collectible and very valuable. Many surviving bikes have been fully restored with original parts or modern replacements; however, this has no effect on price.
An Inside Look at Vintage Motorcycle Projects
Before we dive right in, we wanted to make a note about a few motorcycles on this list that are listed as projects. Projects are bikes that need (replacement) parts or even overall restoration. Some can still be ridden, while others aren’t in working order.
However, if a project bike carries a highly prized name, such as Brough Superior or Vincent, it can still command a high price. So few models of these high-end, customized, fast motorcycles were ever manufactured that they are highly valued collectibles today no matter what their condition.
With all this in mind, here are the 30 most expensive vintage motorcycles in order of current value, adjusted for inflation.
30. 1938 Brough Superior SS100
Last sold in 2021: $306,571
Current value: $320,992
George Brough, a motorcycle racer and engineer, built customized, powerful, fast motorcycles for Britain’s wealthier classes before World War II. When the Brough Superior SS100 model was launched in 1924, it was considered the world’s fastest production motorcycle. Each new SS100 was sold with a guarantee that it had reached a speed of 100 miles per hour in testing.
Today, there are only 71 Brough Superior SS100s remaining. This 1938 model retains the original frame, engine and gearbox.
29. 1939 Vincent HRD 998CC Rapide Series A Project
Last sold in 2016:$330,700
Current value: $390,926
In 1928, a teenage racer named Phillip Conrad Vincent bought out the failed HRD Motorcycle Company and began producing powerful V-twin engine racing bikes. Sales were initially slow until riders on Vincent bikes began to win races. The Rapide bikes could reach speeds of 110 miles per hour.
As this project bike shows, Rapide models in any condition will still command high prices. After all, even at its height, the Vincent factory turned out only 1,100 bikes a year.
28. 1946 AJS ‘Porcupine’ Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle
Last sold in 2021: $406,200
Current value: $425,307
A.J. Stevens & Company (AJS) was a British motorcycle company from 1909 to 1931 when they were taken over by Matchless. AJS developed the “Porcupine” with a supercharged multicylinder engine. The bike was powerful but hard to handle. The press dubbed it “Porcupine” due to its spiky head fins.
Racer Les Graham rode on one to win the Grand Championship in 1949, the only time an AJS bike won. This particular motorcycle was restored in the mid- to late-2000s and had not been ridden since then.
27. 1939 Vincent HRD 998CC Rapide Series A
Last sold in 2015: $380,888
Here’s another one of the about 50 1929 Vincent Rapid Series A bikes still in existence.
This restored model was one of the last produced by Vincent before World War II stopped production.
26. 1932 Brough Superior ‘BS4’ 3-Wheel Austin Engine
Last sold in 2013:$377,950
Brough bikes were known for their powerful V-twin engines, but in the early 1930s, founder George Brough created a model with a four-cylinder Austin light car engine and three-speed gearbox for touring.
This one sold for a hefty price in April 2013 and is now in the Imperial War Museum.
25. 1942 Crocker V-Twin Big Tank
Last sold in 2015: $385,000
Current value: $460,856
Al Crocker was a motorcycle racer who went on to establish a company that made bikes with customized engine capacity and horsepower, tailored to a customer’s needs. Crockers were the most powerful American racing bikes of their time.
Al offered a money-back guarantee if any of his Crockers were beaten by an Indian or Harley-Davidson bike, two other popular racing brands of the day. The 3-gallon Big Tank model with a larger fuel capacity first appeared in 1939. This 1942 Crocker had previously been fully restored.
24. 1926 Brough Superior 981CC SS100 Alpine Grand Sport Project
Last sold in 2012:$400,000
Current value: $478,811
Brough Superior’s Alpine Grand Sport model was launched in 1926 and named after the Austrian Alpine trial motorcycle race. The Alpine featured a new frame, improved handling and a larger fuel tank.
This particular SS100 model was sold as a project in 2012, proving that motorcycles don’t need to be in tip-top shape to have serious value.
23. 1934 Brough Superior 996CC SS100
Last sold in 2012: $394,108
Current value: $487,011
As previously mentioned, Brough Superior produced expensive, powerful, customized bikes from 1919 to 1940 that were known as the Rolls Royce of motorcycles. This 1934 996CC motorcycle is a rare example of Brough’s Two of Everything model.
The specially ordered bike featured two carburetors, two oil pumps and two magnetos and was the rarest of the SS100 models. Few were made in Brough’s history, and only eight of them were manufactured in 1934.
22. 1911 Flying Merkel Board Track Racer
Last sold in 2015: $423,500
Current value: $506,941
The 1911 Flying Merkel was an innovative, simple, lightweight racing bike, and only one is known to exist. The Suttle family, who were Merkel dealers, bought the motorbike new, raced it until World War I and then stored it away.
Collector Bob Clifton discovered the motorbike and bought it. The original tires had to be replaced, but the bike is otherwise unrestored with the original paint. Clifton later sold the bike to John Parham, founder of J&P Cycles, who established the National Motorcycle Museum, where the Flying Merkel is now housed.
21. 1927 Harley-Davidson FHA 8-Valve Racer
Last sold in 2015: $423,700
This 1927 Harley-Davidson FHA 8-valve racer is one of the last of 50 models built, which were originally sold only to race drivers. The motorcycle has skinny tires, no brakes and reaches about 100 miles per hour; the wear and tear on the bikes is why most didn’t survive.
This bike had been in storage for over 50 years and was still owned by the family of the original buyer. A consortium of Australian businessmen, including Melbourne Harley-Davidson dealer Dave Reedy bought the racer at auction in 2015.
20. George Brough’s 1939 Brough Superior SS100
Last sold in 2014: $426,100
Current value: $510,659.08
Here’s a little more history on George Brough. He grew up racing bikes and working for his father’s motorcycle manufacturing company. After arguments over design, George left to set up his own company, Brough Superior, in Nottingham, England with a goal of making elegant motorcycles for upper-class English buyers that were also fast and powerful.
A Brough Superior customer could expect custom-fitted bike handlebars and controls, so each motorbike was unique. This particular SS100 motorbike is especially rare because it was owned by Brough, himself.
19. 1951 Vincent Series C “Red” White Shadow
Last sold in 2016: $434,000
Current value: $513,083
English motorcycle company Vincent claimed by 1948 to make the fastest factory-built motorcycles in the world. Between 1949 to 1952, Vincent created its Series C Black Shadow motorcycles, which could reach speeds of 125 miles per hour. The name came from the unusual black enamelled engine.
Of these,15 were customized as White Shadows, with a polished bare metal crankcase instead of black. Just one of these 15 White Shadows was custom ordered with Vincent’s Chinese Red paint, making it unique. The bike was fully restored in the late 1980s.
18. 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650
Last sold in 2014: $450,000
Current value: $539,302
This 1958 Ariel Cyclone 650 was originally owned by musician Buddy Holly. In 1958, Holly and members of his group, The Crickets, bought motorbikes to ride home from their tour. Holly purchased a limited edition Ariel model, one of only 172 made, while the others bought Triumphs.
After Holly was killed in a plane crash in 1959, country singer Waylon Jennings, a close friend of Holly’s, was given the bike. The Ariel was sold along with over 2,000 personal items from Jenning’s estate in 2014. The new owner loaned the bike to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas.
17. 1926 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport
Last sold in 2012: $453,000
Current value: $541,226
Manufactured in late 1925, this Alpine Grand Sport model went through many hands.
It was restored from 2006 to 2010, with its KTOR engine being rebuilt to the correct specification. During its restoration, it was exhibited at the Brough Superior Golden Jubilee in August 2008 before being sold in 2012.
16. 1912 Henderson Four
Last sold in 2017: $490,000
Current value: $567,154
William Henderson joined his family firm, Winton Motors, but left to found Henderson Motorcycles in Detroit, Michigan, with his brother, Thomas. Their company produced four-cylinder motor bikes with a single-speed chain drive and clutch. The bikes had a folding hand crank, a long chassis, an elongated fuel tank and were expensive for the time.
Filmmaker and motorcyclist Carl Stearns Clancy used a Henderson bike for his pioneering, around-the-world motorcycle trip. This Henderson Four was in original condition, down to the paint and tires, and is the only unrestored version of this bike left.
15. 1932 Brough Superior 800CC Model BS4 Project
Last sold in 2016: $481,624
Current value: $569,335
Brough Superior only manufactured 10 BS4 models, and only seven of those survived.
While one of these models was already included on the list, this project was incomplete and required additional parts and restoration but still sold for a typical Brough’s price.
14. 1939 BMW RS255 Kompressor
Last sold in 2013: $480,000
Current value: $584,587
In 1980, former BMW race driver Walter Zeller wanted to recreate the 1950s-era RS255 racing motorcycle. He obtained a 1951 Rennsport frame and coupled it with a genuine 1939 BMW RS255 engine and chassis. Zeller worked with Gustl Lachermaier, a BMW engineer, and using original BMW factory components, created a hybrid bike that met BMW’s racing specifications from 1949 to 1950.
BMW didn’t keep records of racing engines or frames from before World War II, so it’s impossible to know the actual history of the engine.
13. 1929 Brough Superior Alpine Grand Sports SS100
Last sold in 2014:$494,580
Current value: $592,729
This motorcycle shows the classic profile of a Brough Superior SS100 with its unique saddle tank and a powerful engine that exceeded 100 miles per hour.
The 1929 model of the popular Alpine Grand Sports line has an older frame, requested by the original English buyer. The motorcycle changed hands numerous times and was fully restored between 2000 and 2001.
12. 1929 Brough Superior SS100
Last sold in 2010: $465,350
Yet another 1929 Brough Superior SS100, this motorcycle was sold in the U.K. in October 2010.
It was famously owned by T.E. Lawrence (aka “Lawrence of Arabia”).
11. 1940 Crocker Big Tank
Last sold in 2019: $550,000
Current value: $610,364
Al Crocker's bikes were famous, custom-built bikes that were faster than other American brands of the time. By 1935, he and his partner, Paul Bigsby, had designed a new V-twin engine, which made Crocker bikes the most powerful and best-handling American motorbikes.
After 1938, Crocker started fitting his bikes with larger fuel tanks, and they became known as Big Tanks. This 1940 Big Tank is one of only 64 V-twin models made, as Crocker ceased production during World War II.
10. 1922 Brough Superior SS80
Last sold in 2012: $469,800
Brough’s 1922 SS100 model was nicknamed “Old Bill.” George Brough originally owned this bike and won over 50 races on it. Brough sold the bike to Titch Allen, a journalist and war dispatch rider, whose association made the bike even more collectible.
The 2012 H&H Classics Auction was the first time this bike had been offered for sale in 50 years, and offers came from three continents during the auction.
9. 1930 Brough Superior SS100 Project
Last sold in 2019: $561,556
As you’ve probably noticed, Brough Superior SS100s, even partially assembled like this 1930 model, are still very valuable.
This particular motorbike was originally owned by F.P. Dickson, who raced with Brough Superior owner George Brough.
8. 1910 Winchester 6HP
Last sold in 2013: $580,000
Current value: $706,376
The Winchester Repeating Arms Company is better known as a maker of guns and rifles. However, in the early 1900s, the gunmaker commissioned the Edwin F. Merry Company to make a special run of low-powered motorcycles with the Winchester logo. The bike had a single-cylinder engine with an output of six horsepower and a clutchless belt drive.
Of the 200 Winchester motorcycles produced between 1909 and 1911, only two survive, making them very valuable and highly collectible. An anonymous gun enthusiast bought the Winchester 6HP at auction.
7. 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer
Last sold in 2008$551,200
Current value: $726,345
The earliest motorcycles were basically bicycles fitted with small engines. The Cyclone Board Track Racer is considered one of the first real motorcycles. The Cyclone motorcycle had a V-Twin engine, could reach speeds of up to 111 miles per hour on the board track racing courses that were popular at the time, had no brakes and two thin tires.
Only six Cyclone board racers are known to survive, making them highly collectible. Cyclone was a well-known motorcycle maker at the time, along with brands such as Indian and Harley-Davidson.
6. 1939 Crocker Big Tank
Last sold in 2019:$704,000
Current value: $781,266
Here’s another one of Crocker’s Big Tank models. Because Crocker bikes were made in limited numbers, they rarely come up for sale. So, when they do, they’re pretty much guaranteed to earn a high price.
This model was fully restored by a Crocker expert in Germany.
5. 1937 Crocker Small Tank
Last sold in 2019: $715,000
Current value: $793,473
Crocker bikes produced from 1936 to 1938 were fitted with smaller fuel tanks than later models, so they’re known as Small Tanks. The 1937 Crocker Small Tank could reach a top speed of 100 miles per hour and was the fastest motorcycle in the world before World War II.
The 1937 Crocker underwent a full restoration in 2013, which included performance upgrades, including clutch and grip.
4. 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank
Last sold in 2015 : $715,000
Current value: $855,875
The 1907 Model Two Strap Tank still has the original paint and is considered the best unrestored example of this early Harley-Davidson V-twin motorcycle. The Davidson brothers and William Harley first debuted this model in 1907 and only made 207 of them.
Their early models were known as “strap tanks” for the steel and nickel bands that attached both the gas and oil tanks to the frame. The brand built increasingly more powerful motorbikes and racing bikes and became one of the most famous American motorcycle manufacturers.
3. 1936 Crocker Small Tank
Last sold in 2019: $825,000
Current value: $915,546
The 1936 Crocker Small Tank was one of 14 hand-built bikes created by Al Crocker, as he and partner Paul Bigsby machined and constructed them by hand.
This “boots on the ground” development of motorscycles makes it one of the most expensive motorcycles in the world.
2. 1915 Cyclone Board Track
Last sold in 2015:$852,500
Current value: $1.02 million
The Cyclone Board Track Racer was only manufactured by Minnesota-based Joerns Motor Manufacturing Company for three years, from 1913 to 1915. The Cyclone was considered the most advanced motorcycle of the time and could beat the top speeds of other popular brands, such as Indian, reaching 108 miles per hour.
Although over 300 Racers were made, only six now survive. Steve McQueen, the Hollywood star and car and motorbike collector, once owned this restored bike.
1. 1951 Vincent Black Lightning
Last sold in 2018: $929,000
Current value: $1.05 million
The Black Lightning is a rare handmade British motorbike, one of only 33 built. Only 19 of the bikes are known to survive. This Black Lightning was ordered new by racer Tony McAlpine and shipped to Australia.
In 1953, fellow racer Jack Ehret rode it at 141.5 miles per hour and broke the Australian speed record. He also won numerous motorbike races across Australia. The unrestored, running bike was bought by an unknown Australian and shipped back to the country that made it famous.