Last year’s smashing Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction at Bally’s Hotel & Casino represented several prestigious private collections, attracted buyers from around the globe, saw a world record made for the 1939 BMW Rennsport 255 Kompressor at nearly a half-million dollars, and achieved more than $2.6-million in total. Following that success, Bonhams is now very pleased to announce that it will represent another significant private collection at the January 2014 auction: 50-plus motorcycles from the extensive Wayne Pierce family museum, all offered at no reserve.
Among the machines is the earliest known Harley-Davidson Sportster in existence, a first-year model believed to be the 10th XL883 produced in 1957. Also on the block will be a restored 1933 Harley-Davidson VLE police bike that saw actual duty on the streets of a Chicago suburb before being cast in the Kevin Costner gangster movie The Untouchables.
In business for 55 years, Pierce Harley-Davidson was one of the last remaining true “Mom & Pop” dealerships that formed the backbone of motorcycling in America. Wayne “Pappy” Pierce started his shop in the 1950s in a one-room tin shed in DeKalb, Illinois. From the beginning it was a family operation, with wife Eleanor tending the books. The Harley dealership quickly grew and at one point Triumph motorcycles were added to the showroom, several of which are included in this sale.
The earliest machine in the collection is a 1926 Harley-Davidson JD with unique canoe-style sidecar. Among the rarest is a 1971 Harley Sportster XLH with the controversial Willie G. Davidson-designed “boat tail” bodywork that was available for just two model years. This restored bike also wears the optional 4-gallon long-range gas tank and stock Siamesed exhaust system, both very hard-to-find items.
Barn-find aficionados will be interested in the Pierce’s authentic and unrestored 1947 Knucklehead wearing period aftermarket accessories. And for military collectors there’s a fully outfitted 1942 WLA, complete with gun scabbard and rifle, shovel and stocked first-aid kit. Additionally, two virtually showroom-fresh Baja 100 racers from the 1970s will also be offered.
In later years, son Wayne Jr. took over day-to-day operations of the dealership, and daughter Marylou also helped out, but the elder Pierce could still be found at the shop until his passing in 2008, telling stories, entertaining customers and tinkering with the bikes in his beloved museum, which numbered as high as 120, almost all in running condition.