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Lot 352: Henderson Four With Indian Sidecar

Motorcycle and Motorcars, Bonhams & Butterfields (14 November 2009)

One of the most charismatic names in American motorcycling history, Henderson produced nothing but four-cylinder motorcycles in the course of its 19-year existence. Founded by Tom and William Henderson in Detroit in 1912, the firm passed into the control of Chicago-based cycle maker Ignaz Schwinn, owner of Excelsior, in 1917. The Hendersons soon moved on to found the Ace motorcycle company - later taken over by Indian - and thereby had a hand in the design of all the major American-built fours. Although early models featured an unusually lengthy frame extending well forward of the engine, the Henderson, like the contemporary Indian and Harley-Davidson, was an advanced design for its day. Displacing 965cc initially, the air-cooled cylinders were arranged longitudinally in the frame and employed mechanically operated 'F-head' (inlet-over-exhaust) valve gear. There was single-gear transmission but the Henderson outclassed its rivals for convenience by having a clutch and a hand-crank starter instead of pedals. A shorter frame, folding kickstarter and three-speed sliding-gear transmission were all Henderson features by 1917. Introduced for 1920, the Model K benefited from a redesigned 1,301cc flat head engine equipped with forced lubrication, a new twin-downtube frame, strengthened front fork and enclosed rear chain. Modifications to the De Luxe (introduced for 1922) mainly concentrated on improvements to the gearbox. Top speed was a guaranteed 80mph, and with the optional alloy pistons installed a De Luxe could touch 100mph, an astonishing performance for the time and one matched by few contemporary cars. This example of one of the most desirable of all American motorcycles was purchased new by Mr Harold Simpson in Cleveland, Ohio and possesses a completely known history stretching back to the original owner. The Henderson was owned for many years by Dr Bill 'Doc' Cleveland (one of the founding members of the AMCA) and has been owned by AMCA members ever since. Repainted in 1961, the machine retains its original sheet metal and engine. The latter still has its original pistons and has never been re-bored, only ever requiring one minor valve job and a carburetor rebuild. Very little used from new, the machine recently undertook a 120-mile day trip over steep terrain, which it completed flawlessly. Said to start easily, and run and rides perfectly, this is an excellent and reliable touring motorcycle for the discerning enthusiast. Sold on a Bill of Sale.

Lot Details
Auction Motorcycle and Motorcars
Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number352
Estimate$155000-$165000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1913
Condition rating
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number1289
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors