San Francisco - Bonhams is delighted to announce that it will be offering the ultra-rare 1954 AJS E95 "Porcupine" at its renowned August automotive auction in Carmel, California on Thursday 18th August.
One of just four E95s completed by the factory, the Porcupine (so nicknamed because of the spiked cooling fins on its cylinder head) was created as a works racer by British manufacturer AJS and is perhaps one of the most legendary motorcycles in history owing to its brief, sunburst racing success and extreme rarity. (See complete history at the bottom of page)
"As far as motorcycles go, the Porcupine is at the very top," says Bonhams CEO Malcolm Barber. "It is arguably the most beautiful, graceful and innovative racing motorcycle ever built, the perfect blend of technology and art. Comparisons are impossible but bikes of a similar caliber - rarity, significance and worth - could include a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer, 1955 Moto Guzzi V8 or a mid-1960s RC Honda Grand Prix. This AJS is an utterly important machine whose appearance at auction cannot be underscored enough."
Because the number of AJS Porcupines is so scarce, each machine is well known with all 1954 models being accounted for (most earlier Porcupines were scrapped by the factory). Until recently, this particular example had been on display for more than two decades, occupying pride of place at the world-famous National Motorcycle Museum in England, its motor having been overhauled by Team Obsolete Equippe. It is estimated to bring upwards of $750,000 at auction.
Now in its 14th year, the Bonhams automotive sale at Quail Lodge is the longest running auction during the most famous collector car event in the world - Pebble Beach Car Week. Held in conjunction with the prestigious The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, Bonhams is proud to introduce motorcycles to its successful two-day auction format and is now accepting highly select consignments, strictly limited to 50 of the finest and most iconic machines, to go alongside the AJS Porcupine. Incidentally, it was an E95 that won First in Class at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the first year motorcycles were ever admitted.
"Motorcycles are consistently attracting the interest of discerning motor vehicle enthusiasts and collectors, and their rising values confirm this," says Ben Walker, Bonhams' International Director of Motorcycles. "As the world's premiere auction house in the sale of exceptional motorcycles, we see the addition of rare motorcycles at Quail Lodge as highly complementary to rare motorcars."
Bonhams has the longest-established department dedicated to motorcycles of any auction house and sells, on average, more than 1,300 motorcycles, or $8-million worth, annually around the globe. Its list of leading sales and world-record prices is renowned and includes motorbike-specific auctions at Las Vegas (January) and the International Classic MotorCycle Show in England, as well as combined motorcar/motorcycle sales at the Petersen Auto Museum, to name just a few.
This is the first time a dedicated live auction of motorcycles will be held during the Pebble Beach Car Week and the opportunities for sellers are unprecedented. Owners interested in consigning "creme de la creme" motorcycles to this anticipated event may call 415-391-4000 or e-mail one of the following Bonhams motorcycle specialists:
* Ben Walker, International Director of Motorcycles, London: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Nick Smith, US Director of Motorcycles, Los Angeles: email@example.com
* David Edwards, Motorcycle Specialist: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bonhams Sale of Exceptional Motorcars, Motorcycles & Related Automobilia will take place at Quail Lodge in Carmel, California, on Thursday and Friday, August 18-19, with the select group of motorcycles to be sold on Thursday.
History of the 1954 AJS E95 Porcupine
While statistics show that the Norton is Britain's most successful post-War Grand Prix racing motorcycle, the country's first success in the modern era's World Championships was achieved by another marque with an equally illustrious racing history: AJS. And the machine that carried Les Graham to his, and AJS’, first and only World Championship was, of course, the legendary Porcupine. And unlike the Nortons, the Porcupine is a totally unique design, owing nothing to the production models.
Typed E90, but dubbed “Porcupine” by the motorcycling press because of its distinctive spiked cylinder head finning, AJS’ new challenger debuted at the 1947 Isle of Man TT piloted by Les Graham and Jock West, the pair finishing 9th and 14th respectively after a variety of problems. (By way of consolation,West’s best lap was only three seconds down on the fastest) Two years later, in 1949, the ultimate victory was achieved as Graham won 1st place in the inaugural Grand Prix World Championships astride the Porcupine, a win that was to become AJS’ and Graham’s only major title.