1911 Flying Merkel
1911 Flying Merkel

$20 million bikes collection to be sold at a stand-alone auction

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After spending 50 years building an impressive collection of 239 bikes produced between 1903 and 1991, 90-year-old E.J. Cole – a former Texas fireworks man – decided it was more than time to pass the torch (no pun intended) and hand over his legacy to other (wealthy) bike enthusiasts who will get more out of them.

As long as it was a motorcycle and American-made and I didn’t have one, I went after it. I just mainly tried to buy one of everything there was, and that’s about it. I just went for everything – E.J. Cole, owner and founder of the E.J. Cole Collection

Headliners, to name just a few, will include a 1907 Harley-Davidson Strap Tank and a 1910 Flying Merkel Twin Racer (Cole’s two personal favorites), both in original and unrestored condition, as well as a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer formerly owned by Steve McQueen, a 1907 Indian Single, a 1942 Crocker Twin and a 1912 Minneapolis Single.

The 1917 Henderson Model G was terrifically modern for its time: It came with a three-speed gearbox, kickstarted, clutch, and rear drum brake. Another bike once owned by Steve McQueen, this Model G is one of just four known examples with the optional generator that powered the front and rear lamps and the horn. Estimated price: $135,000 to $175,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
The 1917 Henderson Model G was terrifically modern for its time: It came with a three-speed gearbox, kickstarted, clutch, and rear drum brake. Another bike once owned by Steve McQueen, this Model G is one of just four known examples with the optional generator that powered the front and rear lamps and the horn. Estimated price: $135,000 to $175,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
This 1907 “Strap Tank” (for the steel bands holding the fuel and oil tanks to the frame) was the 94th bike Harley-Davidson even built. Mecum calls it “the best unrestored “strap tank” Harley in the world.” Estimated price: $800,000 to $1,000,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
This 1907 “Strap Tank” (for the steel bands holding the fuel and oil tanks to the frame) was the 94th bike Harley-Davidson even built. Mecum calls it “the best unrestored “strap tank” Harley in the world.” Estimated price: $800,000 to $1,000,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
It wouldn’t be a real motorcycle collection if it didn’t somehow involve Steve McQueen. Bullitt owned this 1915 Cyclone, equipped with a V-twin that produced 45 horsepower, and no brakes. Estimated price: $650,000 to $750,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
It wouldn’t be a real motorcycle collection if it didn’t somehow involve Steve McQueen. Bullitt owned this 1915 Cyclone, equipped with a V-twin that produced 45 horsepower, and no brakes. Estimated price: $650,000 to $750,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
In 1913, the Minneapolis Motorcycle Company informed customers, “as to gracefulness of outline and sturdiness of build,” its bikes were “all the most exacting buying could demand.” This Model S-2 De Luxe Twin has a two-speed gearbox and comes with original paint.
In 1913, the Minneapolis Motorcycle Company informed customers, “as to gracefulness of outline and sturdiness of build,” its bikes were “all the most exacting buying could demand.” This Model S-2 De Luxe Twin has a two-speed gearbox and comes with original paint.
In 1912, the Minneapolis-based Theim Manufacture Co. sold this Model G two-speed, which produced some four horsepower from a 400cc engine, for $200. Mecum says it’s “remarkably complete,” including a backrest and Klaxon horn, but a new front wheel would be a good idea for anyone who wants to ride. Estimated price: $65,000 to $75,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
In 1912, the Minneapolis-based Theim Manufacture Co. sold this Model G two-speed, which produced some four horsepower from a 400cc engine, for $200. Mecum says it’s “remarkably complete,” including a backrest and Klaxon horn, but a new front wheel would be a good idea for anyone who wants to ride. Estimated price: $65,000 to $75,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
Before the “Merkel” name was associated with Europe’s most powerful woman, it was a Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker with visible influence on its neighbor, Harley-Davidson. This 1911 Flying Merkel was made for racing and is in remarkable condition. Estimated price: $350,000 to $400,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
Before the “Merkel” name was associated with Europe’s most powerful woman, it was a Milwaukee-based motorcycle maker with visible influence on its neighbor, Harley-Davidson. This 1911 Flying Merkel was made for racing and is in remarkable condition. Estimated price: $350,000 to $400,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
This 1907 “Strap Tank” (for the steel bands holding the fuel and oil tanks to the frame) was the 94th bike Harley-Davidson even built. Mecum calls it “the best unrestored “strap tank” Harley in the world.” Estimated price: $800,000 to $1,000,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
This 1907 “Strap Tank” (for the steel bands holding the fuel and oil tanks to the frame) was the 94th bike Harley-Davidson even built. Mecum calls it “the best unrestored “strap tank” Harley in the world.” Estimated price: $800,000 to $1,000,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
This Indian was the first motorcycle off the line in 1942, the last year the motorcycle company produced four-cylinder bikes. It’s been restored, and is sold with the title. Estimated price: $85,000 to $110,000.  Courtesy Mecum Auctions
This Indian was the first motorcycle off the line in 1942, the last year the motorcycle company produced four-cylinder bikes. It’s been restored, and is sold with the title. Estimated price: $85,000 to $110,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
One of the newest bikes counted among Cole’s “main attractions,” this 1942 “big tank” Crocker was restored in the early 1980s. It’s one of the last bikes Al Crocker ever built; the war interrupted his production and he didn’t restart in peacetime. Estimated price: $300,000 to $350,000.  Courtesy Mecum Auctions
One of the newest bikes counted among Cole’s “main attractions,” this 1942 “big tank” Crocker was restored in the early 1980s. It’s one of the last bikes Al Crocker ever built; the war interrupted his production and he didn’t restart in peacetime. Estimated price: $300,000 to $350,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
By the late 1920s, the increasing popularity of dirt racing and hill climbs called for longer frames, chains on the rear wheels, and more horsepower. This 1929 Excelsior OHV Super X obliged. Estimated price: $105,000 to $120,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions
By the late 1920s, the increasing popularity of dirt racing and hill climbs called for longer frames, chains on the rear wheels, and more horsepower. This 1929 Excelsior OHV Super X obliged. Estimated price: $105,000 to $120,000. Courtesy Mecum Auctions

All 239 bikes of the the E.J. Cole Collection, will be sold by Mecum Auctions on March 20th – 21st 2015, in Las Vegas. Initial estimates for the entire collection are around $15-20 million.

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Source: Wired / Mecum Auctions


When: Mar 20, 2015 – Mar 21, 2015
Location: South Point Casino and Exhibit Hall, 9777 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas NV, 89183
Cost: Adults: $20.00 per person per day Children: 12yrs and younger free.
To Register: Click here for more information or call Mecum Auctions at (262) 275-5050

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