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Lot 309: c1905 FN Four Cylinder

Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams & Butterfields (12 November 2005)

Like BSA, La Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (‘FN’, for short) began as a munitions manufacturer, turning to the production of motorcycles in 1900. Today the Belgian company is best remembered for its sensational four-cylinder models, the first of which appeared in 1904 and was first exhibited publicly at the 1905 Paris Cycle Show. Designed by Paul Kelecom, the FN was the world’s first practical four-cylinder motorcycle, its smooth, almost-vibrationless operation setting it apart from rival singles and v-twins. Advanced for its day, the 362cc air-cooled four featured ‘atmospheric’ inlet and mechanical (side) exhaust valves, a robust five-bearing crankshaft, individual crankcase oil wells ensuring adequate lubrication for the connecting rods, and reliable Bosch magneto ignition. Shaft final drive was another innovation. Supported on ball bearings, the drive-shaft ran inside the right-hand frame member to a bevel gear on the rear axle. At first there was no clutch, the direct-drive machine being started by pedalling away until the engine fired. Two brakes (drum and rim-type) both operated on the rear wheel. The engine was enlarged (to 410cc) in 1906 and again in 1910, on this occasion to 498cc, and in 1911 the factory introduced its own two-speed transmission, similar to that already offered by Horstmann in Britain, which was contained within the drive-shaft housing.

This very early FN four-cylinder motorcycle is offered for sale in very presentable condition and would be ideal for use in any number of early motoring events. This machine is sold with a bill of sale.

Lot Details
Auction Sale of Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams & Butterfields, Petersen Museum, Los Angeles, CA
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number309
Estimate$50000-$70000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$40000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$40000
Year
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine number5M516
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors