The Top Vintage Motorcycle Collectors in the World
Bud Ekins was America’s pioneer off-road racer. With a career which began with desert and mountain endurance runs and ran through to the modern era of scrambles and motocross, Ekins was one of the first Americans to compete in the World Championship Motocross Grand Prix circuit in Europe during the 1950s.
As if that wasn’t enough for one lifetime, Ekins went was also one of Hollywood’s leading stuntmen and the man responsible for the iconic motorcycle jump from the 1963 movie, “The Great Escape.”
Ekins went on to be one of the country’s leading collectors of vintage and rare motorcycles, and at one time, his collection included more than 150 motorcycles – and was considered to be the most valuable in the country.
Walksler’s Wheels Through Time Museum is a symphony in progress to vintage motorcycles, and Walksler likes his bikes, well, dirty. Walksler believes in patina, and his collection demonstrates his preference for unrestored machines.
His collection includes – as a latest edition anyway – a 1934 Harley 500.
“It’s called a CB500; they made 150 of them. This one is original condition, serial number one. I heard about this bike 20 years ago,” and it’s only one of two in his collection.
A look around the museum provides a constant source of revelation.
“That’s a 1928-29 750 overhead valve twin-port special. Only one known; only one built,” Walksler said. “I found the chassis in January. I found the motor three years ago and knew where it was.”
Wheels Through Time produces excellent short films and puts them up on their website and YouTube, and they’re not to be missed. Visit www.wheelsthroughtime.com to check them out.
Walksler is also sure to be on hand this weekend at the Lee Hartung auction north of Chicago.
Leno is a true gearhead and has the cash to indulge his passion for motorcycles as well as cars.
With a collection which includes a 1976 Hercules Wankel 2000, an array of Vincents and Brough Superiors, a 1967 Munch Mammoth and several pristine Black Shadows and a very rare Vincent Black Knight, Leno’s collection mirrors his taste and his obsession.
“I resisted for years calling it a collection,” Leno said, “but I guess it is a collection.”
Aside from the fact that his collection is worth many, many American Dollars, they’re all in working order.
“What’s the fun of it if you can’t drive it?” Adding, “Everything has to work, including the clock.”
Barber won the X2 Class for Italian Racing Motorcycles made before 1979 at this year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
His Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Alabama entered a 1956 MV Agusta 500cc Grand Prix and it took out a rare 1955 Moto Rumi Jr. owned by another collector on our list, Dan Barnes.
If you want an up-close and personal look at some 1,100 of the most desirable collector motorcycles from over 140 manufacturers, there’s only one place to go – the Barber Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
Barry Solomon put together a collection of 70 motorcycles manufacturer from 1902 thru 2004, and it all started with a blue robin’s egg blue 1948 Whizzer that he couldn’t afford as a youngster. Among the gems in Solomon’s collection, which recently went up on the auction block, a 1923 Condor, a 1930 Terrot, a 1929 Baker, a 1952 Rabiniek, and a 1936 Sparta. Solomon’s collection also included the requisite and immaculate number of Harleys, Indians, Nortons, Ariels, NSUs, Ducatis and BMWs.
The owner of J&P Cycles, John Parham recently took first place in the X1 Class for Italian Touring Motorcycles built before 1979 at Pebble Beach with his entry, a 1957 Aermacchi Chimera. Purchased at an auction last year, the bike has been on display at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. Parham also took a second place in the X1 Class with his 1956 Maserati 160 T4 LV SS0 Sport.
Morbidelli is more than just a “collector” of vintage bikes, though his collection (which numbers some 250 bikes on display) in his museum in Pesaro, Italy speaks to his acumen there, Morbidelli built bikes as well.
Back in 1967 Morbidelli built his first effort, a 125cc two-stroke Grand Prix bike, and that bike is still in his collection . That collection includes the last bike he built as well, a 1997 850 V8 sport-tourer.
In the 30 years it took him to build his fortune as a manufacturer of woodworking machinery, Morbidelli ran a Grand Prix team that won four world championships using bikes of his own design. To do it, he set up a factory (MBA) which produced competitive privateer GP bikes.
His oldest bike, a 1906 Swiss Moto Reve, is the shiniest gem in the crown, and the most recent is a late-’80s Ducati 851 Superbike.
Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle
As for you collector motocycle insurance? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a 1959 BSA valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage. You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.