Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2019

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Three rare Crocker motorcycles among gems at Las Vegas auction

Mecum Motorcycle Auction

Las Vegas Sun

A 1934 Zundapp K-800 motorcycle is rolled across the stage Friday at the 28th annual Mecum Auctions Las Vegas sale after drawing a winning bid. Zundapp, a German company, was founded in 1917 and remained in business until the mid-1980s.

Al Crocker may not be known to many Americans, but he’s a legend at places like the Mecum Auctions motorcycle sale this week in Las Vegas.

How sought-after are the late motorcycle maker’s bikes? On Friday, one sold for $704,000 at the sale at the South Point.

Not bad for a company that was only in business for about 10 years during its first incarnation and only built three models of motorcycles.

But even though Crocker didn’t last long — it opened in the early 1930s and shut down in 1942 due to supply shortages brought on by World War II — its bikes are in hot demand among collectors.

Here’s why: Crocker built some of the biggest and fastest bikes of their day, but it produced perhaps fewer than 100. As a result, the supply of surviving Crockers is limited.

And although the name was resurrected in recent years by a company that is producing new Crockers based on the original designs, the vintage models have retained their value.

So it was a coup for Mecum to be able to offer not only the one that sold Friday, known as a Big Tank because of the size of its fuel tank, but one of each of Crocker’s other models — a 1937 Small Tank and a 1934 Speedway Racer.

Mecum says the Las Vegas auction is the first in history to offer each model of original Crocker bikes.

The remaining two will go on the block today and also are expected to draw strong bids.

About 1,750 bikes are being auctioned during the event, which began Tuesday. On Friday, several hundred collectors and spectators looked on at the South Point’s equestrian arena as the sale proceeded.

Mecum, which has held motorcycle sales in Las Vegas for 28 years, touts itself as offering bikes for any price range and preference.

Its catalog for the Las Vegas event was diverse.

Bikes that were rescued from barns and sheds where they were left to rot were rolled across the stage, as were former world-class racing machines and painstakingly restored classics that had been displayed at a museum.

Oddities included a 1942 Harley-Davidson military bike — complete with a fork-mounted leather holster for a Thompson submachine gun — and a low-slung Indian motor scooter that looked like an ancestor of a modern Razor scooter.

In a special attraction this year, Mecum offered 235 bikes from a Swedish motorcycle collection amassed over more than 50 years by a pair of enthusiasts. As of Friday afternoon, the 10 bikes that had drawn the highest bids all came from the collection.

The auction continues today, with doors opening at 10 a.m. General admission tickets are available for $30 at the door and online, with children 12 and younger admitted for free.

Portions of the sale will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network, and a live stream of the entire event can be accessed at Mecum.com.