In between whoops from bros at the Reel ’Em In slot machines, hoots of drunken bachelorette party girls, and the mobs of conventioneers, you could see a curiously different crowd strolling the Las Vegas casinos last weekend—auctioneers and bidders. Auction houses Bonhams and Mecum rolled into Sin City at practically the same time, with mind-boggling portfolios of two-wheelers in tow. These huge motorcycle auctions have been staged in mid-January for the last several years, with Bonhams’ one-day affair on January 24 at the Rio, and Mecum’s massive cache of more than 1,700 machines offered at a six-day mega-auction on January 22–27.

Of the two, Bonhams is probably the more sedate setup, and the auction house holds the new record for the most expensive motorcycle sold at auction—$979,000 for a 1951 Vincent Black Lightning last year (as of this writing). Over at the Mecum hoedown it’s another story, with a carnival-like vibe, rapid-fire transactions, and three times as many bikes being offered and sold over the course of several days. Mecum claims to be the world’s top auction house for vintage and antique motorcycles, and its 2018 Vegas event was the largest single auction of motorcycles ever. It makes for a prime weekend if you’re a heavy collector or bike enthusiast, when some of the rarest and most sought-out motorcycles in the world all gathered in one city.

Turns out dueling gavels is a good thing.

1938 Triumph Speed Twin
1938 Triumph Speed Twin: Steve McQueen’s old 500cc Triumph Speed Twin, restored by Dave Ekins, held court at the Bonhams auction in Vegas.Courtesy Bonhams

The Bonhams event held some top-shelf metal, including a 998cc 1949 Vincent Black Lightning Series B and a 1938 ex-Steve McQueen Triumph Speed Twin, which was restored by McQueen’s buddy Dave Ekins and sold for $175,000.

Then there was the outrageous 1974 Münch Mammoth TTS-E 1200, arguably the world's first superbike; two years before Honda's game-changing CB750, Münch had already produced the world's first modern inline-four. This one sold for $112,000.

1974 Munch Mammoth TTS-E 1200
1974 Munch Mammoth TTS-E 1200: World’s first superbike? Maybe. The inline-four Münch Mammoth preceded Honda’s blockbusting CB750 by two years.Courtesy Bonhams

This year’s Vegas auction featured plenty of diverse lots, many of them older two-stroke Japanese models, which for some reason haven’t seen much love on the auction block. But with the sheer volume of bikes on offer this year, we had to narrow it down to some favorites.

1937 Crocker Small Tank 61-25
1937 Crocker Small Tank 61-25: Albert Crocker’s bespoke, 1939 Crocker Big Tank V-twin garnered the priciest bid, fetching a whopping $704,000, but this 1939 Small Tank example isn’t too shabby either. Each Crocker was handmade, with specs often adjusted to customer’s preferences. Al Crocker even offered a money-back guarantee to any rider “beaten” by a Harley-Davidson or Indian. This 61ci displacement model sold for $423,500.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1925 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport
1925 Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport: It’s rolling art, right? It’s no wonder George Brough’s 998cc machine was called the “Rolls-Royce of motorcycles.” Sporting a JAP KTOR overhead valve V-twin—already a top-shelf race engine in its time—this 1925 Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sport saw even more tweaks, which explains its selling price of $357,500.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1925 BMW R37
1925 BMW R37: According to Mecum, the R37 is “one of the rarest BMWs offered for sale,” with only 152 units of the production racer ever made. At Mecum, it sold for $220,000.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1912 Henderson Model A
1912 Henderson Model A: This first-year 965cc Henderson four-cylinder, part of the MC Collection of Stockholm, sold for $302,500.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1975 Ducati 750SS Green Frame
1975 Ducati 750SS Green Frame: A rare factory production roadracer, the Super Sport Imola replica was an instant design icon and the fastest production motorcycle in the world when it came out. This 750SS sold for $247,500 at the Mecum auction.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1954 Adler MB Twin 200
1954 Adler MB Twin 200: This two-stroke twin with a plunger rear suspension was the German factory’s most popular model. Selling price at Mecum was $24,200.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1976 Kawasaki KZ900
1976 Kawasaki KZ900: The cool KZ900 was the son of the legendary wicked-fast Z1, but Kawasaki only produced it for one year; the KZ1000 was hot on its heels.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1978 Hercules W-2000 Wankel
1978 Hercules W-2000 Wankel: The 294cc air-cooled Hercules is the first mass-produced Wankel-engined motorcycle. This model sold for $18,700 at the Mecum auction.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1980 Honda CBX
1980 Honda CBX: Not necessarily rare, but as it was the first production six-cylinder streetbike, Honda’s monster CBX is still the epitome of cool. This was the second year for CBX.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
Courtesy Mecum Auctions
1966 Yamaha TR2B: How sweet is this 350cc Yamaha racebike? It was in the movie Little Fauss and Big Halsy and ridden in the AHRMA Battle of the Legends by Dave Aldana and Jody Nicholas. All good reasons for its $20,000 selling price.1966 Yamaha TR2B
1977 H-D XLCR
1977 H-D XLCR: As the Mecum brochure puts it, the “XLCR is simply the baddest factory café racer ever built.” Willie G. Davidson got the go-ahead from AMF bigwigs to capitalize on the custom motorcycle trends of the 1970s and hit it out of the park with this beauty, which sold for $24,200 at auction.Courtesy Mecum Auctions
2009 Buell Righteous Fueller
2009 Buell Righteous Fueller: Taking more than two years to complete, this "Righteous Fueller" custom was built by Bryan Fuller, originally for the Biker Build-Off TV series. There's a Buell 1,203cc V-twin Thunderstorm engine hiding in plain sight, bookended by two rare CNC-machined wheels and surrounded by a gaggle of custom parts. A Buell XB12 it is definitely not, though the Buell fork, brake systems, engine, transmission, and wiring harness were all retained. Sale price? A cool $12,100.Courtesy Mecum Auctions