"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at

August 2011 - Issue #8

* Woe is me...3 more weeks in a cast!
But it ain't slowing me down too much.

* Mecum's first Classic Motorcycle Auction - Great new eye-popping pix from Pebble Beach!!

* BIG NEWS: I just bought a Vintage Dirt Bike! - What? I thought you had a broken foot?

To catch you up (as if you care), about 3 weeks ago I took a clumsy step off my deck while swatting a spider web out of my face, causing me to step onto a small piece of wood my faithful dog Otis had been chewing, which in turn rolled my foot sideways underneath me as I came down on it with all my weight. This fractured the bone that sticks out of the side of your foot, which is the root of your little toe. So, now you're up to speed.

I was in a cast for 2 weeks, looking forward to this last Friday when it was to come off, new X-rays taken & being given a 'walking cast', which for some reason I assumed was lighter weight & removable. So, I go in on Friday & they proceed to cut my cast off with an apparatus that looks like it could cut through a car body, scared the crap out of me & I ain't scared of nothin'! Then they tell me, "Okay, let's go take some X-rays". I'm sitting on the table with my white foot dangling..."Say what? I'm not walking on this thing." "Oh, come on, I'll help you." I insisted on a wheelchair & they made me feel like a weenie for asking. I couldn't believe it. Shouldn't I watch this thing when the cast is off? If not, then why am I wearing that damned thing? Anyway, after much ado about nothing, I got my X-rays (which my doctor showed me on his iPad, amazing huh?), cleaned up my poor lonely foot, then they started putting on another cast, just like the last one.

"Wait a minute...no walking cast?" I asked, naively. "Oh, this is the walking cast," he replies. "You mean I've been in the walking cast all along?" "Yep." "No wonder I can walk so well", I responded in my usual smart ass fashion.

I get this cast off in 3 weeks, well past the upcoming California BSA Rally in Visalia, which I was planning on riding my '79 T140D Bonneville, to, and had prepared it for. Set for Thursday through Saturday, September 8th through the 10th, and sponsored by the BSAOC (BSA Owners Club), NorCal & SoCal Chapters, it promises to be a good time, with excellent rides though gorgeous scenery, incredible Classic British Motorcycles (especially BSAs), and of course, wonderful people. I'm quite sure I will not be able to ride now, not with a cast on my right foot. So, I'll probably drive up on Friday, stay over (already have my reservations at the Lamp Lighter Inn in Visalia), then cover the main event on Saturday, with the judged show, awards ceremonies, field events, etc.

And, if I can swing it, while I'm there, I may travel the 20-or-so miles to Tulare to visit my age-old friend, Ron Clawson. Ron was a Classic British Bike Nut when Classic British Bike Nuts weren't cool...wait, that can't be right. Classic British Bike Nuts have always been cool.

Anway, I digress. Ron owned Clawson's Motorcycle Shop in Hanford CA when I was growing up & he was one of my first-ever bosses. I worked as a mechanic is his Triumph/BSA/Norton/BMW shop that also carried many obscure brands like Hodaka, Bridgestone, Clews, Carabella & (at the time) Moto Guzzi (no one in the US had heard of them yet). For the whole story on Ron & those crazy days around 1970, check out my 'About Us' page, and you may even get to see one of the only Carabella Motorcycles in captivity at the time. Ron now owns a Kawasaki Dealership in Tulare CA & has for many, many years. I haven't seen him since about 1975, so it might be fun. I spoke to him once over the phone. I'd love to meet him for old times sake, but I'd also like to interview him for this website. He is not only a wealth of information about Brit bikes, be he also lived the life back in the day, when British bikes were king! Cool stuff. Hope it works out.

Of course auctions are nothing to to Mecum Collector Car Auction Company, with over 25 years of experience & one of the top sellers of classic cars today. Recently they have been branching out, into vintage boats, planes & even farm equipment, and yes...Classic Motorcycles. They've often had small lots of bikes in their car auctions in the past, but this was their first attempt at such a large number of motorcycles at one time.

It took place at the posh Monterey Hyatt Regency Hotel & Spa, which adjoins the Del Monte Golf Course at Pebble Beach. This 3-day auction ran from Thursday through Saturday, August 18-20, as the Pebble Beach Concours d-ELegance commenced, nearby. MIDAMERICA'S AUCTION MARKETPLACE AT PEBBLE BEACH
MidAmerica Auctions also held a 3-day Classic Motorcycle Auction at Pebble Beach that week, with 100-or-so top-notch vintage bikes for sale in what they call an "Auction Marketplace" format. Rather than a live auction with an auctioneer fanning the bidding frenzy, all the bikes were on display & could be bid on at any time, with all bids being considered at the end of the 3-day event. Many had "Buy Now" prices & so could be purchased on the spot. I wish I could have attended this one, but alas my leg cast was proving too much of a strain on my fresh fracture, especially after a full day of walking Mecum's 200-bike Auction.

This 1971 Rickman Montessa 250 sold for $4,000 at the Mid America Classic Motorcycle Auction in Las Vegas this past January (2011), which I attended. I saw this bike first-hand & up-close. That's what I call Market Research.

As you would already know if you've followed my financial misadventures with my '79 Triumph T140D Bonneville Project, I don't always have the best instincts when it comes to making money on motorcycles. With the T140D, I bought it as a barely-running project bike for $3,000 & thought I could make it right for another grand, leaving me with a 'done bike' for around $4,000. Didn't happen. New tires, new chain, new clutch, new brakes (disks, pads, caliper kits & master cylinders) front & rear, carb kits, etc., etc. I'm in it around $6,000 now & while it runs well enough & is totally reliable, it is by no means 'done'. It needs everything cosmetic (paint, powdercoating, polishing, replacing) & the engine has 37,000 miles of wear on it (it clangs like a bell at an idle, the pistons are so loose that sometimes they swap holes). Anyway, that's another story. For all the money I have sunk into it, I could have just bought a really nice, finished bike that needed little. Silly me. So, I figured it was time to learn from my mistakes & try to be smarter about this, next time.

Now that's how you fit a Classic Motorcycle in a minivan! Handlebars folded flat, she just barely cleared. I had just 40 inches of vertical at the rear hatch opening.

As you know, I've been attending as many of MidAmerica's Las Vegas Auctions as I can, they're a blast & there are just too many incredible Classic British Motorcycles in one place to miss. But last year, Bonhams did a classic motorcycle auction in Vegas the same week & are returning this year. And now RM Auctions is doing the same with their 3-day bike auction at the Rio. 3 Auctions in one week in Vegas. How can I miss it? So, my mission & my challenge is to buy at least one bike during the year that I can take to Vegas & sell at MidAmerica's Auction (I love those guys) & hopefully make enough to pay for the trip.

Check this baby out! This 1973 Rickman Montessa 250 is just about as sweet as it gets.

So, I found this luscious '73 Rickman Montessa 250 for, let's just call it 'cheap'. It needs nothing. I'm going to take a few pieces off of it just to clean & polish. But, it's basically ready to sell. It starts in one kick. I'm not even going to ride it. Both tires are new & still have the nibs on them. I'm going to take a nice set of studio photos, send them to MidAmerica for their auction catalog & cover it up until January. I'm going to cover this entire process of the Market Research, the Negotiating for the bike, the Preparation of the bike, the Marketing & the Sale. It should make a great page on my website. Until the actual auction, though, I plan to keep it all secret (what I paid, etc.) I'll keep you informed.
Please pass this newsletter along to your friends (forward it) & encourage them to Subsribe as well. I'd also love hearing from you with any comments, criticisms, ideas, or suggestions on this website, so please CONTACT ME.

Enjoy the ride,