What an incredible week for geeks. Porn geeks had the Adult Entertainment Expo, geek geeks had the Consumer Electronics Show, and motorcycle geeks had two, count ’em!, two high-end bike auctions in town. Heavenly.
Auction No. 1 was Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale on Jan. 6, the first time this San Francisco-based auctioneer has put on this event. Bonhams crammed about 200 very interesting bikes into a backroom at the Imperial Palace’s Auto Collections showroom, including the first machine to ever be called a motorcycle: a 1894/95 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller that fetched $161,000. That was very cool and all, but what caught this geek’s eye was the 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross dirt bike personally owned by Steve McQueen, very likely the same bike McQueen was riding in the 1971 cult classic On Any Sunday. It wasn’t for sale and wouldn’t have been within my means if it had been. Sigh.
Auction No. 2 was MidAmerica Auctions’ 20th annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction on Jan. 6-8 at the South Point hotel-casino. Billed as the “world’s largest motorcycle auction,” this one also featured short-track racing, a benefit dinner and a charity auction. All good stuff, but when there’s a Vincent Black Shadow up for grabs—in this case a 1950—everything else takes a backseat. The Black Shadow not only had the coolest name ever assigned to anything on two wheels, it was also a very badass machine in its day, and its menacing, blacked-out appearance still impresses. So does the price it commands: Auction results weren’t available by press time, but $80,000-plus is a ballpark for Black Shadows. Another one out of my means. But the good news is our city is becoming the motorcycle auction capital of the world.