Three Crocker Motorcycles To Headline Bonhams Auction At Quail Lodge In August

Crocker was created in and shaped by the culture of pre-WWII Los Angeles, California, by former Indian distributor Al Crocker. Known as the “Duesenberg of motorcycles” Crocker is the definitive American motorcycle, handmade, powerful and fast. Very much a Hollywood “hot rod” bike. These 3 Crokers and other exquisite models from Indian, Harley-Davidson from a prominent private collection has been entrusted to Bonhams for their annual Quail Lodge sale held during the famed Pebble Beach Car Week. Bonhams’ 2012 two-day sale will take place Thursday (dedicated to motorcycles) and Friday (dedicated to motorcars), August 16th and 17th at Quail Lodge in Carmel, California. “Having three documented Crockers in one sale is very momentous,” says Malcolm Barber, CEO of Bonhams Group. “Very seldom does a Crocker ever come up for sale, so this is an extremely unique opportunity for collectors and one we are privileged to present.”

As a bespoke machine, each Crocker was made to the specifications of its buyer. This expensive and time-intensive approach meant that quality remained high but production output low. Total Crocker numbers never exceeded more than 125 units before World War II forced the firm’s closure, and today only around 50 of those units are accounted for, making Crocker motorcycles extremely rare.When it debuted in 1936, the upstart founder brazenly challenged world dominators Harley-Davidson, boasting of superior technology, performance, handling and raw power. In fact, Al Crocker famously advertised that if any of his bikes were ever beaten by a stock Harley, he would refund the owner’s money. No refunds were ever requested.

After fading into relative obscurity for half a century, two major events transpired that vaulted Crocker to the consciousness of collectors worldwide. First, the Guggenheim Museum’s ground-breaking 1998 exhibit The Art of the Motorcycle prominently featured a Crocker (owned by famed auto collector Otis Chandler). Then, the seminal 2006 Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance presented Crocker as a featured marque with a record-breaking 20 examples on display. The attention provided by these two events – highlighting the marque’s unique history, success and rarity – suddenly made Crocker one of the most desirable and expensive motorcycles in the world.

Bonhams is accepting consignments of rare and pedigree motorcars of all vintages for a limited time.  Interested sellers may e-mail usacars@bonhams.com

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15 Responses to “Three Crocker Motorcycles To Headline Bonhams Auction At Quail Lodge In August”


  1. 1 Seymour Apr 19th, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Perfect design and execution.

  2. 2 Joe Cree Apr 19th, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Beautiful motorcycles. Love those Crockers.

  3. 3 GuitarSlinger Apr 19th, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    After listening to Jeff Decker’s interview on his website about current Crocker prices I’m almost afraid to see what the final tally will be on these three bikes when the bidding is done . I’ll guess a very healthy six figures … approaching if not exceeding seven . Each !

  4. 4 Doc Apr 19th, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Great to see those old L.A. Crockers. Too bad some rich guy who will never ride it will buy it and warehouse it until another rich guy buys it to be stored somewhere else. Those things should be in a museum at least…or my garage…

  5. 5 Kirkland Apr 19th, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    “Al Crocker famously advertised that if any of his bikes were ever beaten by a stock Harley, he would refund the owner’s money. No refunds were ever requested.”
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    Al’s world, on his terms – because there was nothing about the Crocker’s he didn’t know, right down to the flywheels. Yea knowledge is power, along with the balanced frame proportions that provided empirical handling. Al never really got the chance to showcase his machines for a comparison test with Harley, probably (no doubt) because HD® owned one or more Crocker’s and knew Al was right.
    I’ve never heard about any mechanical flaws within the Crocker at all.
    The original “look” of old OHV bikes will never go away.

    V-Twin is producing the 1954-57 frames in Taiwan now. There’s no repop 1954-57 frames in the USA presently at all. I own one but it needs the rear tank mount moved up about 1/4″. V-Twin could no longer survive with problem frames being returned for ANY reason. When the frames arrive from Taiwan, they will be perfect and as well made as the originals. When correct replica frames are consistently uniform and in stock, the market will begin to pick up.
    You can’t repop a Crocker, but you CAN build a rigid Pan that has that same “3rd gear Ferrari “growling windup” feel in the saddle that feels like your ripping 6 feet of 14 oz. canvas with your bare hands. A Full 74 cu. in. of pull. With a 31-tooth motor, 47-clutch and 50-tooth rear wheel ratio, 3rd gear can run 33 mph (at a nice comfortable lope), or run up to 47 mph without over-winding the motor, and still make a smooth transition to 4th, but in run 4th gear as low as 35 mph on level ground without lugging the motor one bit. That’s range my friends – on a Pan or Knuckle. Remember the days of high winding 4th gears (like the trans. wanted a 5th)? Those days are over now, thanks to the newest addition of the 50 tooth rear sprocket. It’s still alive out here.

  6. 6 Kirkland Apr 19th, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    I can see several machines in the Crocker. The frame resembles a 1920’s HD Twin Cam after is was “cut-down” and re-balanced in the late 40’s by the Boozefighter’s era C.B Clausen and friends that really knew what they were doing. Those guys Crockerized the Twin Cams and JD’s, if you look at some of the bikes still in existence (Chuck Wesholski’s yellow JD cut-down is one of them), like the blue one, have that close neck rake and tight-bend high bars so your wrist aren’t bent when riding.
    The kick arm assembly is definitely “Indian”. The push rods (2 under one p.r. cover) seems Brit. Headlight’s perched up high like a knuckle. These are real motorcycles.

  7. 7 Lightnin`Larry Apr 19th, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    I was at the 2006 Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance and to see 20 awesome Crockers in one place was totally a once in a lifetime expierence! Love the look and the history, wish I had a really large excess of $$$$$ so I could bid on one, or maybe even two!!!

  8. 8 Jason Hallman (Steelchoppin) Apr 20th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I don’t know the first thing about these but damn…those are the sexiest bikes form that era!

  9. 9 Larry R Apr 20th, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Those are really beautiful bikes well made before their time. Thanks Cyril for sharing and who ever gets them, I congratulate them for perserving a place for them.

  10. 10 David Nelson Apr 22nd, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    I saw a Crocker at Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley NC. If I remember right the guy that owns that place was riding it around inside the museum. What a job to have!

  11. 11 Tony M. Apr 23rd, 2012 at 11:31 am

    For those that don’t know, Crocker has been resurrected. http://www.CrockerMotorcycleCo.com. They also have a Page on Facebook.

  12. 12 Kirkland Apr 23rd, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    “The Crocker Motorcycle Company has made a commitment to produce enough parts so a customer will be able to build his own Crocker piece by piece or by purchasing parts in kit form. Will these same parts help a restorer complete a high quality restoration? Absolutely, they are already fulfilling that role.”
    •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    Crocker could help finance their adventure with steady sales of exact replica 1951-1953, 3.5 gallon tanks using their cad programs. Create a “cash cow”. There’s a backlog of slack-jawed neanderthals waiting for 3.5’s (including me), that will pay $800. a set retail. If you have no returns for quality issues, then your shelf stock is “all asset” like gold, but not if it’s an “interpretation” of what Crocker “would have done” if he was on a budget or had insane parts-jobbers (many times the case today).

    Then you’d have “junk” on your shelf. The early Harley market still doesn’t get that. Like a monkey clutching a dollar bill in a jug. Can’t let go. Starves to death.

    Facing facts, the Crocker was priced out of reach for most people in the 1940’s. Big Twin Panheads were always priced out of reach too, at least $1,200. beyond the price of a 650 BSA in 1959. So they were motorcycles you aspired to.
    No different than today, we should expect to pay (in parts-lot installments) 30 to 50 thousand $ for essentially hand-made and inspected Crocker parts (plus your own free assembly labor). However, if the Crocketeer’s have it mapped-out from start to finish, they’ll be a wagon train of pilgrims insured of a promised-land on a rolling replica that will blow minds every single time they ride it in public. That’s therapy. :)
    Crocketeers will have a guided-expedition, unlike the repop knuckle and panners ….who spent the same amount of money in returns and fixes, but making their way to 1,000 miles on the odometer is still as sweet once they’re on the road.
    Bon voyage!

  13. 13 Barry Brown Apr 23rd, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    First of all the guy at Wheels Through Time riding the Crocker was most likely the museum owner Dale Walksler, a great guy and a true enthusiast.
    Second point, the Crocker has not been resurrected unless you consider tail light and tee shirt sales resurrection. That effort is a long and sordid tale.
    Thirdly , Crockers were great bikes but like anything they were far from perfect, one of their Achilles heels was weak shifter forks.
    Finally , I love Crockers, they rule . I have owned a few.

  14. 14 Kirkland Apr 23rd, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    “Crockers were great bikes but like anything they were far from perfect, one of their Achilles heels was weak shifter forks.”
    ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
    Interesting! Another anecdotal investigative reason for a motorcycle company’s failure.

    The first company being Indian, with their Achilles heel being it’s Big Chief oil pump. Never perfected. When the pump failed to push oil, the entire motor had to be disassembled?

    Harley, on the other hand, succeeded during those years because they perfected their 4-spd transmission in 1940 and their oil pump by 1948. Facts to ponder.

  15. 15 Barry Brown Apr 23rd, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Legendary Crocker rider and racer John “2 cam” Cameron told me when he went to Al Crocker to get yet another shifter fork they became unavailable and John put his 90 incher ( originally intended for a midget race car) into a JD chassis. he said it handled better than ever, although seat post tube fracturing was a problem. 2 of my Crockers had bent, repaired , broken shifter forks. Homer Wood told me Al lamented the fact he hadn’t used a 4 speed box similar to that on English machines of the period so all told, although good in theory the integral box just like the entire bike could be considered a prototype in production. Cylinder head heat was also an unresolved problem. Early bikes had some nasty handling quirks resulting in tank slappers.

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