Two Wheels

1954 AJS E95 Porcupine could smash auction records at $750k

1954 AJS E95 Porcupine – Click above for high-res image gallery

A rare motorcycle coming up for auction looks poised to break records when the gavel drops at Bonhams' auction at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California, come this August.

Called the Porcupine (due to the spiked cooling fins on its cylinder heads), this 1954 racing bike was one of just four built by British motorcycle manufacturer AJS. (Another of the four, incidentally, won first place when Pebble Beach inaugurated its first motorcycle class in 2009.) The centerpiece of the collection at England's National Motorcycle Museum, this particular example has recently undergone an extensive overhaul and is expected to fetch upwards of $750,000.

The AJS is just one of the 50 motorcycles on the docket for the annual event this year, part of Bonhams' extensive motorcycle auction circuit that sells around 1,300 motorbikes – or about $8 million worth – every year. Follow the jump for the full details in the press release.
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Bonhams adds exceptional two-wheelers to its famed two-day sale at The Quail.

16 May 2011 - San Francisco – Bonhams is delighted to announce that the 218-year old auction house has been selected to represent the ultra-rare 1954 AJS E95 "Porcupine" at its renowned August automotive sale in Carmel.

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.)

"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. Incidentally, it was an E95 owned by the Barber Motorsports Museum that won First in Class at the 2009 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the very first year motorcycles were ever accepted.

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.

"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 The Quail as highly complementary to rare motorcars."

Indeed, Bonhams is no newcomer to the two-wheeled market. The firm 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 (April), as well as combined motorcar/motorcycle sales at the Petersen Auto Museum (November) and Le Grand Palais in Paris (February), 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 "crème de la crème" 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:
Nick Smith, US Director of Motorcycles, Los Angeles:
David Edwards, Motorcycle Specialist:

The Bonhams Sale of Exceptional Collectors' 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.

For the consignment of exceptional motorcars to go alongside the likes of the 1979 BMW M1 Pro Car painted by Frank Stella from the collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, please e-mail

For press inquiries and photos, please contact or 415-503-3316.

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