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Although we know it as Monterey Car Week, there is more to this fancy event than just cars. For some reason, the monocle crowd allows us knuckle-dragging bikers on the manicured lawns. Ok, maybe painting the folks bringing 7-figure motorcycles to Monterey as “knuckle draggers” might be a stretch. Either way, here are the top 10 most expensive motorcycles for sale at Monterey Car Week 2022

1937 Crocker V-Twin tank
The gear shift of a 1937 Crocker V-Twin 1000cc motorcycle | Tim Boyle/Newsmakers

What is the most valuable motorcycle in the world? 

There are a few celebrity-owned bikes like Elvis Presley’s Harley or the Captian America chopper from Easy Rider that trade this moniker but also is entrenched in weird ownership histories. Either way, these bikes don’t count. 

The bikes for sale at Monterey Car Week 2022 are the cream of the crop. These are largely production motorcycles that are old and rarer than hen’s teeth. These bikes are more “Ferrari Daytona” than “Harley-Davidson.” 

1926 BMW R42

1926 BMW R42
1926 BMW R42 | Mecum Auctions

These early BMWs are incredible. Maybe more so than any other legacy motorcycle brand, these early BMWs still look more or less the same as modern BMW motorcycles. That may sound absurd at first but really look at the motor construction, exhaust, and drive line. These look like primitive versions of modern bikes. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find many bikes of this age that are as sophisticated as this. Early BMWs don’t have quite the same value as American motorcycles from the same period, but New Atlas predicts these bikes will continue to grow in value. This 1926 BMW R42 is expected to fetch somewhere around $60k-$70k. The record is $92,000

1910 Harley-Davidson Belt Drive Single

1910 Harley-Davidson Belt Drive Single
1910 Harley-Davidson Belt Drive Single | Mecum Auctions

There were motorcycles before 1910, but not many. This 1910 Harley-Davidson is one of the earlier production efforts from the now legendary American bikemaker. If you notice, with these really early bikes, the construction and controls are far from what we are used to today. 

This numbers-matching bike has been meticulously restored after 112 years of staying together. This motorcycle is estimated to go for somewhere between $80k-$100k. 

1926 Indian Altoona

1926 Indian Altoona profile
1926 Indian Altoona | Mecum Auctions

Drink this one in slow, y’all. What a lovely thing this early Indian is. Named after the Altoona Speedway – the 1.25-mile board track located in central Pennsylvania that hosted American Board Track Championship races during the 1920s – this Indian is far more than just a pretty bike. 

Bike sales were heavily dependent on winning races during the 1920s. Indian, as well as other manufacturers, cared a lot about making bikes that could really perform – and this bike could perform. So, not only is the 1926 Indian Altoona a stunning bike to behold, but it’s also unfathomably rare and fastern’ greased lightning. This little monster is estimated to bring between $110k and $120k. 

1916 Excelsior V-Twin with Sidecar

1916 Excelsior V-Twin with Sidecar
1916 Excelsior V-Twin with Sidecar | Mecum Auctions

At the time, the 1,000cc Excelsior V-Twin was one of the fastest motorcycles in the world. That is usually a good recipe for becoming one of the most expensive motorcycles too. Harley, Davidson, Indian, and Excelsior were the big three at this time. This bike was a big deal. 

While this bike might appear to be a military surplus vehicle, it isn’t. This bike was fitted with a sidecar from the factory, and it even sported the very luxurious (at the time) feature of horse-hair upholstery. Chances are this bike will sell between $100k and $120k. 

1938 Indian Four

1938 Indian Four
1938 Indian Four | Mecum Auctions

By the 1930s, American motorcycle makers were beginning to zero in on what we might now recognize as modern motorcycle manufacturing. Engines were getting bigger, more powerful, and complicated. 

Aside from the Indian’s rare and shockingly original factory options, this bike sports the 1,265cc four-cylinder. This bike comes three decades before the most famous four-cylinder, the Honda CB750. These bikes were before their time and are a true rarity today. This bike is estimated to fetch as much as $140k. 

1920 Harley-Davidson Dewey Sims Board Track Racer

1920 Harley-Davidson Dewey Sims Board Track Racer
1920 Harley-Davidson Dewey Sims Board Track Racer | Mecum Auctions

Despite this Harley-Davidson being celebrity owned, its value isn’t just because Dewey Sims owned it but because he famously raced and won the 1931 Peoria 5-Mile State Champion Race on this bike. 

As New Atlas points out, this lot is more than just the bike; the lot comes with the winning trophy from Peoria, photos, and correspondence from the legendary board-track racer. This isn’t a bike; it’s a museum exhibit. 

Steve McQueen’s last motorcycle: 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross

Steve McQueen's last motorcycle: 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross
Steve McQueen’s last motorcycle: 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross | Mecum Auctions

Steve Mcqueen is the King of Cool. I know, we said all that stuff about this not being about celebrity-owned bikes, but I feel like making an expectation for Steve McQueen’s last motorcycle is a worthy exception. 

There’s no sugar coating it; the Husqvarna 400 Cross isn’t the most collectible or rare motorcycle in the world. Still, its connection to McQueen is all any motorcycle collector needs to know. 

1954 Vincent Black Shadow

1954 Vincent Black Shadow on display
1954 Vincent Black Shadow | Mecum Auctions

This is one of the baddest motorcycles ever made. The Vincent Black Shadow was rare in its day, making them impossibly rare today. 

This Black Shadow was not just restored by Harris Vincent (one of the most well-respected names in classic motorcycles), but with the addition of 12-volt electrics, an electric starter, and some quality engine internals (such as Maughan & Sons’ new premium flywheels), it is arguably considerably better than new. 

This gem is estimated to fetch upwards of $200,000. 

1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead

1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead
1936 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead | Mecum Auctions

As we near the top of the list of the most expensive motorcycle for sale at Monterey Car Week 2022, we begin to approach the big V-Twins. Those of us who know these bikes might feel our hearts flutter a touch when you spot something like this ’36 Knuckle. 

This is a beautifully restored first-year model for the venerable Harley-Davidson Knucklehead. Although restored, this bike is home to a host of rare original parts. Knucklehead nerds will freak to see parts such as the mid-1936 open rocker heads, small brace front fender, original dash and speedometer, and the toolbox. Even the gas caps and fluid lines are originals, plus there are a lot of NOS parts. 

The record sale price for this model is $200,000. This example is estimated to bring as much as $225k. 

1942 Crocker Big Tank Twin

1942 Crocker Big Tank Twin
1942 Crocker Big Tank Twin | Mecum Auctions

While the Harley-Davidson Knucklehead is probably the most famous, highly-valued big twin, the real breadwinner is the Crocker “Big Tank” Twin. 

These bikes are rare. Lots of bikes are rare. Despite there being an estimated 60-something Crocker V-Twins, the most alluring part of these bikes is their inherent American-ness. These bikes were big in a time when that wasn’t super common. 

There is also the fact that these motorcycles are some of the most beautifully designed bikes ever made. And if these things weren’t enough, Crocker’s huge engines were performance monsters. On every level, these bikes deliver. It is because of all of this that this Big Tank V-Twin is estimated to fetch up to a cool million. This will likely be the most expensive motorcycle of the week.


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