Yesterday I asked whether collectible motorcycles were collectible by intention or accident. It seems the intentional collectible is a kind of hopeful fantasy, on the part of both manufacturer and buyer. They want lightning to strike twice by recalling the former glory of a model long gone, or sometimes on the company’s part, they want to create something special out of thin air. One of the comments, by Akbar, was quite good:
I have been a rare book, collectibles, art and antiques dealer for over 25 years now (ouch) and the thing is, intentional collectible(s) really never are collectible after some time. They are still desirable, but never become rare as the people who buy them in the first place take care of them. Thus, an ultra expensive, limited edition bike produced now, will be stocked away in someone’s garage, or at least enough of them will be that 25 years from now, you will be able to buy one at anytime, given money.
As far as limited editions go, well, if the edition is more than, say, 250, it is really common as dirt.
The stuff that I have always seen gain the most money over the years is quality items (sometimes just interesting items) that nobody at the time knew they would be so desirable later. E.g. the first generation Buell, the Battle Twin, is now worth a fair amount of money; small production numbers, important bike, and not a lot around, the people who bought them, rode them, they did not go instantly to a museum or collection.
The bike likely to be sought out in the future has memories and experience attached to it. If the only thing it ever did was sit under wraps, it just becomes an expensive museum piece traded among others who will, likewise, cover it up and never use it. Whether it’s an old motorcycle or Shelby Mustang, the high value originals built up a lot of history from owners (maybe you or me) who used them hard and often and we remember it. Remaking them now in “limited numbers” tries to cash in on the history of the originals which the remakes will never have.
The many thousands of CB750 owners who used and abused them built up a lot of memories. The bike was common as dirt for years but now the clean ones are getting scarce and there are many more riders to remember those common bikes than there would have been for a “limited edition CB750 anniversary special” of some sort.
The more people there are with fond memories of a motorcycle in years past, the greater the future demand. Anything pre-identified as a collectible is, oddly enough, almost guaranteed not to be.
Even models produced in more limited numbers that became collectible weren’t treated as such when new, they were raced and ridden and fully enjoyed. If they were all stored away from day one they would be nothing more than an interesting curiosity.
The fully capable Ducati Desmosedici RR is in danger of entering this category. I just noticed Tom Cruise gets the first one in the US. He’ll run around with it for a while then sell it and the machine will forever carry the “formerly owned by” price markup. Will any Desmosedici owner run it hard and really enjoy it or will they all be carefully preserved under glass? Most likely, they will all be treated as so special the risk of actually breaking it would be unthinkable and they’ll be traded as investments instead of motorcycles, after all, they’re collectible. There will never be a large owner base, due to limited numbers and high price, no one to look back and remember the days when he ripped around town on his old Desmosedici. They will be interesting curiosities to all but a few.
Many of us have owned collectibles over the years, it’s just that we owned them new and sold them later when we bought something else. When that former bike runs up in price we wonder how we could have missed such an obvious future classic and vow never to let it happen again. The factories are happy to oblige with all of these “specials” that we figure will undo our mistake, … right.
Collectible motorcycles are more likely to be somewhat common and one day cease production because they no longer sell well and then 5 or 10 years later someone, probably a former owner, says, “You know, those were nice bikes, I should buy one,” and the process begins.
Related: Collectible Motorcycles – Intentional or Accidental?
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Related: Collecting Vintage Motorcycles
Related: Custom Motorcycles – Long Term Collectibles?