On April 25th, 2010, during The International Classic MotorCycle Show held in Stafford, England, legendary auction house, Bonhams, will auction a relatively clean-for-its-age but original Hildebrand & Wolfmüler motorcycle.
Sometimes the further back we look into the early history of something, the details of origin can get a little sketchy, opening the doors of debate and speculation.
This seems the case when considering the basic elements that make up what we commonly refer to as a motorcycle.
Gottlieb Daimler has been credited with building the first “motorcycle”, but it seems his two-wheeler (augmented by what are essentially training wheels) powered by a tiny internal combustion engine of his own design wasn’t referred to as being a motorcycle until after another two-wheeler came along.
Although a mix of two-wheel contraptions powered by an engine of one type or another came along before a machine developed in 1894 by Hildebrand & Wolfmüler, it was this German-born scoot that made a successful run at series production: In other words, the Hildebrand & Wolfmüler was put into mass production—or at least mass-produced for the era—becoming the first of its kind dubbed motorrad, or motorcycle.
According to Bonhams’ site, the example of the 1895 H & W has been in the ownership of a “family in the USA since at least the early 1930s, which is when it last ran.”
Owing a great deal to the anticipated selling price of between £40,000 – 60,000 (roughly $65,300 – $130,600) is the reality that the motorcycle up for auction is one of few remaining of the 800 to 2,000 units estimated to have rolled off the line at Hildebrand and Wolfmüler, according to Bonhams.