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Lot 399: 1903 Excelsior 550cc Motorcycle with Wicker Sidecar

Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams (16 October 2005)

Bayliss, Thomas & Co. built the Excelsior motorcycle at Lower Ford Street in Coventry from 1896 and can truly claim to be pioneers in this field. Like so many of their pioneering contemporaries they utilised proprietary engines, notably the ubiquitous De Dion Bouton engines, which they built under licence, and the locally produced MMC units from The Motor Manufacturing Co. Ltd., formerly part of Lawson’s Great Horseless Carriage Co. Ltd. Contemporary advertising in 1903 for Excelsior motorcycles boasted of world speed records while claiming “no equal as a touring or business vehicle”.

This highly original combination is believed to be of 1903 manufacture and records suggest first registration in Perthshire, Scotland in January 1904. It was supplied new to the local doctor in Crieff who later traded it in with the original supplier in that town. The present owner bought the machine from that cycle shop where it had lain for almost 60 years in 1961 for the sum of £3.10s. Having collected the motorcycle, some weeks later he was asked why he had not collected the rest of the bike and this turned out to be its original wicker sidecar which had been stored elsewhere. The Excelsior Motor Co. Ltd. of Tyseley undertook the restoration of this machine in 1962 for just another £3.10s – the invoice is on file!

Since restoration the outfit has been used on appropriate events, tackling the gentle Perthshire foothills with vigour with two aboard. It is to original specification in all major respects and is presented in black and silver livery with gold lining and correct transfers, retaining some of its original green upholstery to the sidecar although the cushion has been replaced. It runs well on its original surface carburettor with atmospheric inlet valve. It comes with old and new style registration documents and was last MoT’d in 2003 since when minimal mileage has been covered. This rare and charming machine is currently SORN registered.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams, Classic & Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number399
Estimate£10000-£12000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£11500
Hammer Price (inc premium)£13225
Year1903
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine numberMMC3384
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors