Over the years, there have been many motorcycle manufacturers that have came and gone as well as many motorcycle models as well. The list below features 10 unique vintage motorcycle models that have left their mark on the world of motorcycling.
(in no particular order)
Featured below is a 1922 Ace Motorcycle manufactured by the Ace Motor Corporation, started by William G. Henderson in 1919. In 1923, Red Wolverton rode a specially prepared Ace XP-4 and broke a new record by reaching a speed of 129 mph (208 km/h), which was an incredible speed for back then. Production ran until 1924 and ceased operations after filing for bankruptcy and eventually Indian bought the rights and tooling to the Ace Motor Corporation. Because production only lasted for four years, this is an extremely rare, vintage motorcycle.
2. Indian Scout
The Indian Motorcycle Scout was manufactured by Indian, from 1920 to 1949 and is considered Indian’s best motorcycle model ever made. It was even produced for and used by the US army and allied forces during World War 2. The scout featured an engine size of 745cc in 1927 and was successful in winning several Daytona races. It has been featured in several Hollywood movies including the film “The World’s Fastest Indian” , which is about Burt Munro and his attempts at beating land speed records with his 1920’s Indian Scout motorcycle.
3. BSA Lightning
Designed as an “all round sportbike” the BSA Lightning was planned largely for export to the US market in the 1960’s to complement the Thunderbolt and Spitfire models. It had a top speed of 110mph and is considered one of the most successful models not just of BSA, but of all British motorcycles. It has also been featured in the James Bond movie “Thunderball”.
4. Harley Davidson WLA
The Harley Davidson WLA was produced for the US Army during World War 2. It’s design was based on the existing civilian model, the Harley Davidson WL. Productions started in 1940 and ended after the war in 1945, but was revived again as it was needed for use in the Korean War. Production ran from 1949-1952. What differentiates it from the civilian models is that it is does not have any chrome mirrors or other chrome parts. The fenders were modified to reduce mud build up and leg windshield guards were installed as well. Blackout lights as well as many accessories were added including leather scabbards to hold Thompson sub machine guns, cargo racks for radio equipment, and skid plates. In total 90,000 WLA’s were produced, 30,000 of which were sent to aid the Russian Army fighting against Germany during World War 2.
5. Triumph Bonneville
The original Triumph Bonneville was produced from 1959 to 1983 and 1985 to 1988. It was quite popular in its early years and originally featured a 650cc engine which was later enlarged to a 750cc engine. It’s named after the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where Triumph made attempts on beating motorcycle land speed records. In 2001, Triumph started and continues production of the Bonneville again, this time with a 790cc parallel twin engine.
6. BMW R60/2
Designed to be used as a long distance touring vehicle, this model was unique in that it featured a side car which allowed for two passengers to ride together side by side. It was designed by BMW and manufactured in Munich. It featured an engine size of 600cc and offered 30hp. Over the course of several years, BMW manufactured 20,133 of these models.
7. Norton Manx
The Norton Manx is a British racing motorcycle that was produced from 1947 to 1962 by Norton Motors Ltd. Norton was one of the first motorcycle manufacturers along with BMW and Harley. Norton took part in every Isle of Man TT race from the very first one starting in 1907 up until the 1970s without missing a beat-a record no other motorcycle manufacturer holds. The top speed of the Norton Manx was about 150mph making it quite unique and formidable contender for its time.
8. BMW R32
The BMW R32 was BMW’s first motorcycle ever produced. It was manufactured in 1919 and featured a M2B33 engine which had a displacement of 494 cc. The engine produced 8.5 hp (6.3 kW), giving the R32 a top speed of 59mph (95 km/h). Nearing 100 years old, it is an extremely rare motorcycle and has fetched upwards of $168,000 at a recent auction.
9. Brough Superior SS
The Brough Superior SS 100 was designed and built by George Brough in Nottingham England in 1924. Sixty nine SS100s were produced in 1925 making this model extremely rare and valuable. Considered the Rolls Royce of motorcycles, all bikes came with a guarantee that they were capable of doing 100 mph (160 km/h). It is unique to note that Brough’s workmanship helped developed the features of the early Harley Davidson forks on their motorcycles. The most valuable of the Brough models is the1934 Brough Superior 8/75hp. T.E. Lawrence, aka “Lawrence of Arabia”, was particularly fond of them and had owned 4 of them in during his lifetime.
10. Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans
Released in 1976, the Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans was styled as a cafe racer but built with a V-Twin engine with a longitudinal crank. The engine pushed out a total of 71 hp, throttling the Le Mans to a max speed of 130mph. It was named after the 24 hours of Le Mans endurance race track in France.
If you have any comments about the motorcycles featured in this list or would like to add to this list, please feel free to comment in the comment section. Also, don’t forget to check out our huge inventory of motorcycle parts and accessories for vintage makes we have including BSA, Norton, and Triumph motorcycle models.