Here’s a unique opportunity to own not just a collectable motorcycle but the whole damn brand.
The iconic Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle brand and all its intellectual property will be auctioned at the 27th annual Mecum Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction, which runs from January 23-27.
Included in the purchase will be the ownership of the Excelsior-Henderson brand name, all federally registered trademarks, web domains and includes the previous motorcycle frame and engine designs, as well as the expired patents that can only be effectively exploited by the owner of Excelsior-Henderson.
Excelsior-Henderson was once one of the big three motorcycle manufacturers, right up there with Indian and Harley-Davidson and saw its greatest successes under the ownership and direction of Ignaz Schwinn, whose mighty two-wheeled empire in Chicago earned most of its profit from bicycles.
From 1911-21, Henderson’s were the only four-cylinder motorcycles produced in the U.S and by the late 1920s, it was Excelsior-Henderson and Indian that dominated the 45 cubic-inch market with the Super X and Scout models.
Their big models—the Henderson Four, as well as the Indian Chief and Four—were admired the world over, and were in many ways the most attractive and technically interesting motorcycles built in the U.S.
In 1912, an Excelsior was the first motorcycle to be officially clocked at a speed of 100mph (160km/h).
Nevertheless, Schwinn correctly foresaw a major downturn in motorcycle sales for 1930, and decided to pull the pin on his big bikes and focus on the ones without motors, which were likely to continue selling when jobs were scarce.
And he was right; Schwinn bicycles thrived through the 1960s and ‘70s, but the company never again produced motorcycles.
In 1997, an attempt was made to relaunch the motorcycle business, with a factory constructed in Minnesota.
About 2000 motorcycles were produced, with styling based on models from the 1905-1931 period, before the company went bust.
Vintage Excelsior and Henderson motorcycles are highly collectable.
At last year’s Mecum Las Vegas auction, examples bearing both names landed among top sales.
A 1912 Henderson Four took top sales honours at $490,000, followed by a 1913 Henderson Four that brought $150,000.
A 1928 Excelsior Big Bertha also fell into the top sales hammering for $117,500.