Swedes in Vegas!

Rarities under the hammer in gambling capital of Nevada

The Crocker Big Tank, built in 1939 and just one of only 72 vee twin Crockers. Previously a resident of Indiana, will it return?

It’s logical to think that any kind of museum will always be going to hold onto all of its exhibits ad infinitum, but that’s not always strictly true. Sometimes it’s due to financial reasons, occasionally it’s thanks to local politics, but the most common reason – and the situation that we see here – is due to a relocation to a smaller venue.

With all of the factory’s go-faster goodies, this Velocette Venom Clubman hails from 1968.

The collection in question is the MC Collection, in Stockholm, Sweden, and the curator and owner, Christer R. Christensson, is editing the impressive stable of bikes that he owns at the moment down to 120 machines. This still sounds like a lot of bikes, but the fact is that there are no less than 235 motorcycles being taken out of the MC Collection! The remaining bikes will soon be on display at Tidö Castle, just outside of Västerås in Sweden (about 100km from Stockholm), and the new museum will be opening in Spring of 2019 (look at www.tidoslott.se for more details).

Set to achieve a premium price, this Honda CB750 is one of the earlier models with ‘sandcast’ crankcases (actually permanent mold castings) before the die cast cases of the later models.

The impressive collection has been gathered by Christer over many years, having first bought a Husqvarna in 1957, he started actually collecting with a silver Norton Dominator – which began a fascination with British bikes – in the Seventies. While clearly an avid motorcycle fan, it was the variety of design that truly fascinated Christer and during the following decade, whilst having a passion for Swedish-built bikes, he started looking further afield, at bike designs from around the globe, but his focus was still on interesting design.

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He then started a restoration shop, being helped by Ove Johansson for many years, with Ove lending a helping hand from just eight years of age! The primary objective was to find bikes that had been kept, long term, by families in Sweden. There are even rarities, such as 1900s Indians and Harleys, that have stayed in the same Swedish family for well over 100 years! Around 80% of the collection was of bikes that were originally sold in the Swedish market – not just home market machinery, but bikes from around the world too.

This elegant little 100cc single is a 1952 Imme R100. As the tank logo suggests, Imme is German for ‘bee’, and the buzzy little two stroke has many interesting features such as an exhaust running through the swinging arm, and a single-sided front end.

Restoration was always back to original spec, if any restoration was undertaken at all. Christer collected many original sales brochures, to be able to learn the original finish of parts, whether they were nickel plated or whatever. As he points out, too many restorations are totally unlike the original, with modern triple plate chrome instead of nickel-plating, for example.

The museum has been running for 20 years, and originally opened to the public when Christer realised that the bikes couldn’t just stay in a garage or basement, but had to be seen by the public. He bought them because the design fascinated him, and he wanted others to understand that fascination too.

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A replica of the NCR race Ducatis of the Seventies, this Swedish bike was originally built using race components from the factory!

But, for now, you want to know about the bikes being sold. They’ve been shipped from Sweden to Las Vegas, and will be sold off in an auction coordinated by Mecum in January. Christer has kept many really rare, Swedish and European bikes, although some rarities, such as a 1939 Crocker Big Tank that was the only example of that model in Europe, have headed back across the Atlantic. As Christer said “Sometimes bikes just need to be where they need to be!”, and you do have to wonder just how some bikes, like that Crocker, ended up in Sweden in the first place!

82 of the bikes due to go to auction are now on show in Las Vegas, and the collection will be sold, in individual lots, at Mecum’s 28th annual Las Vegas Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction, scheduled for January 22-27.

The 1929 Husqvarna Model A, built for dirt oval racing, uses a 250cc overhead valve JAP powerplant, Druid forks and a three speed Sturmey-Archer gearbox.

And, although the sale in Nevada will mean that many machines will remain in the States – Christer is hoping that is where the Crocker will stay – the international market that supports large auctions such as this dictates that potential bidders will be watching from around the world. Some of those bikes will certainly be coming to Britain! You can see the bikes due for auction at www.mecum.com/motorcycles

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