Thanks to a recent bit of activity at Bonham’s, we’ve got a front row to the newest…oldest…production motorcycle in the world – the first to make the term ‘motorcycle’ stick, in fact.
This pretty bit of punch is of Hildebrand & Wolfmüller ilk, considered to be the first mass-produced motorcycle in the world, and sitting pretty on the title of “the first such device to which the name ‘motorcycle’ (motorrad in German) was ever applied.”
She was a curious sort for her era, to be sure; instead of steam, her 30mph top speed was achievable by diesel ponies. Oil was put away inside a section of her tubular frame (looking at you, Buell), and stopping duties were represented by an obligatory system where two rubber pads lowered to the tire’s shoulder, just beside the tread (a choice that would have caused hilarious performance figures as temperatures fluctuated, given the bike’s weight).
The rear mudguard even doubled as a water tank – a fun thing, considering steam counterparts preferred to keep their reservoir between their two wheels (via American History).
Sadly, only several hundred of these innovative units were made – and that means the emergence of one is a huge rarity when surfacing like this.
“Purchased from the prominent Spanish collector Carlos Garriga in January 1990, the example we offer is presented in wonderfully untouched condition, with the obvious exception of the tyres and bands, although one of the latter is perished and needs to be replaced,” contributes Bonham’s description of the bike.
Fancy a guess as to what the bike went for?
“Sold for €195,500 inc. premium.”
With antique beauties like this paying homage to the world of possibilities we know today, we look forward to seeing what shows up for the next season’s chop block.