10 Bikes I’d Buy From Mecum’s 2019 Las Vegas Auction

These 10 wild machines would fill my dream garage if I won the lottery

Mecum’s Las Vegas Auction
Mecum’s Las Vegas AuctionCourtesy Mecum Auctions

The biannual Mecum motorcycle auction in Las Vegas is the kind of event a motorcyclist's dreams are made of. Just about every conceivable type of bike goes under the gavel, from turn-of-the-century collectibles to rare Broughs and Crockers to first-gen superbikes. The 28th Annual Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction Las Vegas featured a whopping 1,750 motorcycles, attracting a veritable who's who of collectors and historians and high rollers with deep pockets.

Alas, my pockets are not deep, but that shouldn’t keep a guy from dreaming, right? High roller that I am, I rolled down to the local convenience store, plunked down a whole dollar on a Quick Pick lottery ticket and crossed my fingers. And today, my pockets are still not deep. But after staring at pages of motorcycles in this year’s Mecum Vegas auction like a kid in a candy store, here are 10 I saw that I’d love to have in my dream garage.

1936 Harley-Davidson VLH
1936 Harley-Davidson VLHCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

Holy smokes, this is gorgeous. And if this 1936 VLH isn't beautiful enough for you, how about hearing that it reportedly used to be owned by Steve McQueen? Plus, it was the last year of the Flatheads. Mecum's highlights state, "The VLH was the top of Harley-Davidson's range, with low-expansion aluminum-alloy pistons, a Y-shaped intake manifold, and 5.75:1 compression. The engine made 38 hp at 4,500 rpm, giving a top speed of 94 mph." Did I forget to say it was once owned by the King of Cool? Bang that gavel, I'll take it! (Sold for $44,000)

1982 Honda CX500 Turbo
1982 Honda CX500 TurboCourtesy Mecum Auctions

My first motorcycle was a red, white, and blue 1986 Kawasaki Ninja 600. Since then, I’ve always held a soft spot for early-gen sportbikes: GPZs, GSX-Rs, and Interceptors. And while the 1982 Honda CX500 Turbo has that campy, 1960s Japanese sci-fi vibe going on thanks to its blocky bodywork, I dig it. I also dig vintage Japanese sci-fi. Go figure.

What makes the 1982 Honda CX500 Turbo ultra-cool is the fact that it was the first production motorcycle with a turbocharged engine. Its electronics were also state of the art; the turbo, fuel injection, and electronic ignition were all computer controlled.

"When the boost kicked in at 4,000 rpm…riders loved the kick in the pants with a peak power output of 82 hp, which was equal to Honda's much larger bikes but with less slingshot zing for the rider," stated the bio on the bike. Said to be the "most sophisticated motorcycle in the world" when introduced, it was an early indicator of Honda's drive to be a leader in motorcycle technology. (Sold for $6,600)

1939 Crocker Big Tank
1939 Crocker Big TankCourtesy Mecum Auctions

There are few motorcycles I find sexier than a Crocker. Apparently, I'm not alone as this 1939 Crocker Big Tank brought the highest price for a motorcycle in Mecum's 2019 Vegas auction—a hefty $704,000. Powered by a 1,000cc big twin (serial No. 39-61-108), the Crocker Big Tank was restored by Michael Weigert under the watchful eye of Crocker expert Chuck Vernon. Its listing in the Crocker Registry is further proof of its provenance. Keys, an old registration, miscellaneous letters and photos, and an issue of Moto Revue Classic magazine sweetened the sale.

1954 Harley Panhead Chopper
1954 Harley Panhead ChopperCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

What's not to like about an old-school Panhead chopper? You got your super-clean Pan in a wishbone frame, "rabbit ear" bars, and a sick twisted springer made by Smith-Fetrow, Donnie Smith's original company. The original owner built it in the early '70s and it hasn't been modified since. The groovy artwork on the tank is a tribute to the album cover of the 1970s band, Star Castle. A copy of Star Castle's CD is part of the package! This chopper is far out, man! (Sold for $9,350)

1957 Harley-Davidson XL
1957 Harley-Davidson XLCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

It's the bike that launched a legacy, a first-year Harley-Davidson Sportster. This old Ironhead is in cherry condition. While it's the first XL, it still bears many traits of the KH including its frame, fenders, big gas tank, and fork. This 1957 Harley XL has undergone a 100-point nut-and-bolt correct restoration by Glenn Bator and reportedly was reviewed by an AMCA chief judge throughout the restoration process. Who would have thought that 62 years later the Sportster is still going strong as Harley-Davidson's longest-running, continually produced motorcycle. (Sold for $33,000)

1950 Triumph Speed Twin Racer
1950 Triumph Speed Twin RacerCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

Another sweet Triumph that caught my eye was this 1950 Speed Twin Racer. I love its antiquity, from its open chain primary to its girder fork. Its spunky little 500cc engine was popular with racers, and this particular Triumph drag bike was raced by Joe Cardozi. Sometimes the most fun is to be had on a no-frills bike like this hardtail Speed Twin. (Sold for $4,000)

1946 Harley-Davidson WL Bobber
1946 Harley-Davidson WL BobberCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

This baby looks like 750cc of wicked fun! Such a tight arrangement on the front, from the stout springer to the Hellings risers to the Flanders bars. The Flathead's been rebuilt, so has its Linkert carb. Super-tidy back end too, but I'd definitely need a kidney belt by the looks of that seat! This 1946 Harley-Davidson WL Bobber is too cool for school and easily ranks in my top three. (Sold for $17,050)

1983 Harley XR Racer Rich Rano
1983 Harley XR Racer Rich RanoCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

This Battle of the Twins XR1000 is a sexy beast, and raced by Rich Rano in the series from 1983–’86. This little bio Mecum whipped up says it all:

“The styling of the XR1000 wasn’t identical to the XR750, bearing more relationship to the standard Sportster with a small tank and solo seat, but the exhaust system was pure racer, with dual matte-black high-pipe exhaust. Combined with the twin Dell’Orto carbs sweeping backward above the primary case, the XR1000 was a very racy machine, but expensive to build in such limited numbers.… Harley-Davidson launched the new model by sending what was nominally an XR1000 racer (but was probably an over-bored XRTT) to Daytona, where Gene Church won the new Battle of the Twins series with his machine ‘Lucifer’s Hammer’ three years in a row. Church was clocked at 156 mph in 1986 at Daytona during practice, which surprised the Ducati team.… Church modestly claimed they were having carb problems, which the Ducati boys thought cheeky, but Church then lapped Daytona at 170 mph, and the world was reminded what Harley-Davidson could do to a racing motor.”

Definitely a tasty little nugget of racing Americana that I'd love to own. (Sold for $6,600)

1985 Suzuki GSX-R750
1985 Suzuki GSX-R750Courtesy of Mecum Auctions

I told you I have a soft spot for early Japanese sportbikes. This first-year 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750 helped spark the explosion of sportbikes. The Mecum bio sums it up:

“Suzuki introduced the full-on race replica in 1985. It was packed with technology previously only seen on the track and was the first Japanese motorcycle with oil-cooling and featured an all-aluminum frame. The GSX-R also had full-race features like a 41mm fork, flat-slide carburetors, triple 300mm drilled disc brakes, 18-inch wheels, and magnesium rocker covers. With its extensive use of lightweight materials in its construction, the GSX-R weighed 388 pounds, about 70 pounds less than its rivals in the 750cc class.…”

Wonder if this Gixxer could roll back the clock to 1985 again when the speedometer hits 88 mph? I'd feel McFly to ride this thing! (Sold for $18,700)

1970 Triumph Bonneville Chopper
1970 Triumph Bonneville ChopperCourtesy of Mecum Auctions

A flaked Triumph chopper with the groovy king-and-queen saddle and a rad trident sissy bar. Load it up. Think I've got an old Billy-style leather jacket with tassels down the sleeves in my closet that'd look perfect with it. The spunky little 650 looks to be in pretty good shape, I dig the prism oil tank and the skinny front end looks nice and sketchy. Would love to know who built it and the rest of the bike's history, but info was sparse. Still, there's always room for a funky little '70s chopper in my garage. (Sold for $1,870)

So the grand total for the motorcycles I’d fill my dream garage with is $845,170. I’m headed down to the corner store now—got a dollar in my pocket and I’m feeling lucky. See you in Vegas next year!