Auction Etiquette

A Spondon gets sold.

Auction Etiquette

I don't count myself as an expert but I have learned a few things by attending car/bike auctions of the past few years. The first is to know your limits, then stick to them.

At the Steve McQueen auction in 2006, prices were crazy but I was able to walk away with the least expensive thing (of any real value), a 1920s wooden curio case in which the actor kept his toy motorcycles. Cost $600, a bit pricey for an otherwise inconsequential piece of furniture, but downright cheap compared to the fool who ponied up $60,000 for a pair of sunglasses allegedly worn in The Thomas Crown Affair.

Another trick: Always look for the item that is out of place. At the Bonhams auction held in conjunction with the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours last year, I spied a modern Spondon aluminum frame amongst the vintage lots. Closer inspection showed it to be in pristine shape, never used, tailored for a mid-1990s Triumph Triple. Included were Marvic wheels, a WP fork, Works Performance shock, black-anodized rearsets, Brembo rear caliper, and Spondon aluminum tank, clip-ons and tubular single-sided swingarm.

In essence, a streetfighter chassis kit just waiting for a motor, tailsection, twin headlights and front brakes. It's so light, it practically needs a tether to keep it from floating away. The British company was one of the major players in the 'fighter movement, though lately things have been tough and apparently Spondon is now owned by the same fireworks magnate who purchased the rights to Dreer Norton.

Anyway, only myself and one other person even bid on the chassis, and he dropped out pretty quickly. I won the lot for $1600 plus fees. For that kind of money I may just hang it on my office wall and admire the scrumptious welds!

Turns out the frame was owned by Mike Corbin, of seat fame, who was cleaning out his impressive collection of motorcycles and memorabilia. I told him I was the new owner of the Spondon. "Good for you," he said. "Do you know I paid $9000 for that, dealer cost, back in the '90s."

Complete the bike, Mike offered, and he'd treat it to one of his custom seats. Such a deal!