Are the most highly prized collectible motorcycles intentionally designed from the start to be collectible or do they happen by accident? Is it some cosmetic or stylish addition that makes the difference or a focus on quality and function that stands out? Asked that way, the answer may seem obvious, marketers and designers try to force the issue but buyers determine what they want.
A recent article wonders whether marketers can create trends, forcing something to happen by getting in front of the right person, as though there were only a few of these “right people.” The article goes on to show further study indicates there may be a right person that starts a trend but it could be almost anyone not just one of a select group, and there’s no way to predict it in advance.
“Trend” is simply another way of saying “demand.” If you think about it, there is a related idea, marketers trying to create demand for special editions of their products, artificially trying to create a demand for something by making it appear scarce as though that is all that matters and hoping a few of the right people buy it. It’s the idea of the “intentional collectible,” speeding up a process that normally takes a bit of time.
Look at the motorcycles that command the highest prices at the bigger auctions or on eBay, are they motorcycles with a special paint package or slightly different bodywork or are they the motorcycles with a history of popularity among buyers when they were new? Maybe they had some actual racing history, maybe they were a popular conversion, maybe they were a particularly well built example few could afford. Sometimes, the bike in question, wasn’t even very popular until after it went out of production.
Almost all manufacturers fall into the “intentional collectible” pursuit with special editions that are little more than chrome, paint and a numbered plaque. It looks like easy money but are motorcycle buyers that easily manipulated? Unfortunately, it sometimes appears so.
Think about what is bringing good money today, old Indians and Harleys, various British bikes, well preserved examples of German and Italian machines and even something once as common as the Honda CB750, certainly not designed to be collectible, brings decent money if the original parts are mostly there.
I’ve touched on much of this before and even distinguished between collectibles and affordable classics, an idea worth keeping in mind. Wouldn’t it be nice if manufacturers concentrated on making great motorcycles and let the collectibles take care of themselves?
And a question: hoyt left a comment below about a motorcycle he thinks will be collectible which brings me to an obvious question for the rest of you:
What current or recent motorcycle do you expect will become very collectible or desirable in the future?