When a stash of old Norton motorcycles recently turned up for auction, still in their delivery crates, still unassembled, the debate began over what any prospective new owner should do. Should they be uncrated and prepared for display, prepared for riding or left in the crate as-is. There are opinions on all sides and some of you might have a fast answer but have you thought it through? These were not one example of a motorcycle thought to have disappeared forever, these are Nortons, there are quite a few still on the road in all conditions.
It’s easy to say they should remain in the crates as found, preserving the value. This is the investor view. The motive seems to be buying it to resell later at a higher price to someone who will do the same in an endless cycle of buy, hold and resell. The bikes may never see the light of day, they may even deteriorate unless completely sealed in some way, but they will forever be totally original. Perhaps they’ll be shown to a select few who may talk about the wonder of these original Nortons but you can almost hear the buttons on the calculator in their heads, adding up the future value of these holdings.
Some would at least uncrate and assemble the bikes, not to be ridden, but shown in a museum type display. Visitors could see these complete originals, untouched, unridden, unmodified and as new as could possibly be. The idea is to preserve them for current and future generations to view. It’s a nice idea but there are quite a few Nortons already on display in museums around the world, how many do we need? If someone wants to see one up close, all they need to do is travel to one of the displays already in place. These aren’t like an endangered species that must be numerous enough to reproduce or they’ll die out, as long as we preserve a small number, they’ll be there.
The Showman Collector
Another group would carefully assemble the bikes, preparing them for startup and actual riding, but the riding would be extremely limited. They may take them to shows or concours events some distance away but only on a trailer. Riding close to home would be to limited to just enough to keep things working. These owners appreciate the originals and want to get them out for many to see, but seeing them move on a few rare occasions is enough. Usually they’ll be sitting, waiting, prepared for the next event. There are a lot of owners in this group.
The Vintage Rider Enthusiast
This group would look at these bikes in the crate as an opportunity to ride an original and enjoy them on the road. It’s unlikely they would be daily riders or accumulate the mileage expected of a new bike today, but a weekend ride would be a regular occurrence. Preparation would likely include newer tires and other concessions to reliability. You would see these bikes ridden to shows, not trailered. Lots of folks would get a chance to see these bikes on the road as the factory intended. This is probably a sizable group as well.
There may be other variations but you get the idea. None of these positions is right or wrong, it’s completely subjective so where do you stand? It’s apparent from your comments on the original post about these Nortons that opinions vary, so let us know what you think.