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Commando Sales Prices and Buyers

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by 1up3down, Feb 14, 2020.

  1. 1up3down


    Jan 12, 2011
    Like many of you I was an early 70's buyer of new Commandos.
    I am 70 now, need my electric start to get it going, and ride less and less.
    So how is the present market for Commandos?
    Are prices softening yet, is new blood coming into the market or are we just
    buying and selling amongst ourselves?
    When our generation is gone in not too many more years who will buy Commandos?
    Do the younger guys really want to own pretty high maintenance old British bikes?
    nortriubuell likes this.
  2. maylar

    maylar VIP MEMBER

    May 13, 2007
  3. NPeteN


    Nov 20, 2018
    I guess I am young person. I don't see many people my age buying older bikes and my Norton is the only Norton I know of near me.

    Most older bikes are "high maintenance" by modern standards and so only the best will carry on, that is why I own a Norton.
    Craig likes this.
  4. Tornado

    Tornado VIP MEMBER

    Dec 5, 2017
    I think there are pockets of interest from younger folks. I see it all the time at events like distinguished gentlemans rides and even at local coffee shops. Riders have certainly taken to the fake vintage bikes like Triumph and now Royal Enfield. This gets them keen on true vintage. Biggest hurdle seems to be being mechanically inclined.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  5. dynodave


    May 28, 2003
    I would fully concur. There are a few (3? ) younger guys locally that are running commandos. I had surmised that our old club was predominantly people in the trades and few were "academics" or keyboard jockies as a career. Using tools and technical work with help within the club got us all to the starting line come ride day. But that was the old days...

    The lure of doing a bike by credit card makes the mechanical and engineering intellectual challenge seem like too much work. For over 8 years I did free tech/work sessions 1 or 2 times a month on nortons. Now all the nortons sit in the corner of their garage and "IF" they were to show up it's on a BMW, Ducati, Harley, moto guzzi, or any number of jap bikes. Even then, I could not get anyone to talk about nortons, so I closed down the tech sessions to "by request only".

    Very true... buying old nortons? I have been given 3 for $0, rather than the folks junking them they told me "come and get em". I use them for research now.
    xbacksideslider and nortriubuell like this.
  6. illf8ed

    illf8ed VIP MEMBER

    Dec 30, 2003
    Angel in the NCNOC is the only chronologically young member and as time permits he does ride it. I turn 67 on Feb 18. My story is when I joined the club at age 28 I was one of the youngest members and still am. Seems US demand is dropping, but as long as there are Aussies buying and sending these home the prices should stay high.
    nortriubuell likes this.
  7. MichaelB

    MichaelB VIP MEMBER

    Jan 14, 2004
    Now, that's funny right there.........
    nortriubuell likes this.
  8. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Jul 12, 2015
    The last four bikes I've sold were to people in their forties and none of them have any mechanical skill which causes me to get a lot of phone calls.

    One guy rides lot, but never owned a bike before, and wanted the bike to be safe but look its age - he thinks it is "cool" to ride a bike older than him. He started with a BSA B25 and when it was hit parked in a parking garage, traded it in for me to build him a replica Triumph T100D. (Disc front end, otherwise a T100R)

    One has been into vintage cars for years and wanted to get into vintage bikes. I had a show winning 72 Combat and a nicer 75 850 available, both for $11,500 - he chose the Combat.

    The other two just wanted something they saw when young. One Commando, one Bonneville.

    My 50 something stepson rides an Interstate and a widow maker (Kawasaki H2). My oldest grandson talked me out of my BSA B50 MX and he's race it a few times. The last time, he was the youngest rider and he was riding the oldest bike. He won his class.

    So, there are some young riders, but most of the ones I know haven't a clue about keeping a vintage British motorcycle on the road.
    nortriubuell likes this.
  9. xbacksideslider

    xbacksideslider VIP MEMBER

    Aug 19, 2010
    The manufacturers have failed to nurture young riders. In my opinion, long ago, there should’ve been a continuous effort in the form of 100cc or 125cc or even 250cc singles offered as “loss leaders” where the dealers are expected to sell them at break even prices to build the brand, encourage and popularize, and to build a lifelong constituency. These bikes could’ve been promoted As inexpensive high school or college or first job commuter bikes and touted for their fabulous gas mileage. Instead we got a $4000 CB350RR grand $4000 Ninjas from Kawasaki. Meanwhile in the third world the same companies sell disc brake single cylinder electric start 250s for under $2000
    trident sam likes this.
  10. Eric Bauer

    Eric Bauer

    Jan 10, 2020
    I'm 38 and bought a 73' Norton 850 two months ago. I have an old Triumph, a Sunbean an old Harley and a 69' Corvette. I like old stuff because my dad did. I like to work them. Can't say I've ever met another me, but I know they exist. Old cars from the 40's and 50's still have value even though that generation that thought those were "cool" in their teen years are gone. Norton's have never really been that expensive relative to cars and things like that so there should be interest in them enough to keep values reasonable for running examples. Cool things are always cool. But they are a lot of work (labor of love if you will) and frankly if I didn't know how to even tweak things at all I would have had to call someone at least three times already in my ownership of two months. Like when the carb balance tube came off and it was stalling at stop lights and backfiring. Kick starting that bad boy in a line of traffic when you're way too lean is not something most millenials really want to tangle with. Or people for that matter :) If you buy old bikes and such for investment, hopefully you only mean personal sweat and monetary investment, because profit is a dream. It is still a better investment than a brand new Harley. Which will be worth 80% less in 10 years. You'll never have to kick it over though!
    marshg246 likes this.
  11. Fanfan26


    Mar 14, 2012
  12. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2008
    My MkIII sold last month for near the top of the collector's price scale. Then again, Austin is a great market, especially compared to Laredo!
  13. mdt-son


    Jan 19, 2012
    Who cares who will buy my old Commando (by the time it's finished it will be almost brand new)? Enjoy it while you can.
    The "enemy" of bikes and old bikes in particular are - as was in the 60's - cars - and cheap cars in particular.
    As for the lack of the mechanically minded youth - what can be expected in the age of computer games, cell phones, weed and easy living?
    Even young so-called professional mechanics rarely have a passion to perform an honest days work anymore, and 'quality control' seems to be a foreign term. It's so annoying! Billing they do, though. Where is proudness of the trade? Long gone.

    trident sam likes this.
  14. NPeteN


    Nov 20, 2018
    And exactly how many of you guys flocked to your grand parents bikes when you were twenty somethings??

    Certainly not when there were superbike Commandos to be had. Why is this generation held to a different standard?
  15. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Jul 12, 2015
    I don't know how it is in the rest of the world or even the rest of the US, but in my area, I can't find anyone to help me. I've spent two years trying to find teenagers, college students, or whatever to work with me on motorcycles and/or Information Technology.

    For instance, I was paying a teenager $15/hour to blast parts for me. He could come and go as he pleased, get paid whenever he wanted, and if he had finished the parts needing blasting, he would have been taught to powder coat them. He worked a total of four hours and decided it was too boring.

    Then I had a 30 year old woman who whined about being poor constantly who reported to me in my real job. On the side, I was paying her $20/hour to do IT jobs and, parts organizing, and blasting. She worked quite a bit but got a better fulltime job and quit both.

    So, still looking for help!
  16. NickZ


    Oct 31, 2018
    Regarding the current market for Commandos, I attended the recent Mecum and Bonhams vintage bike auctions in Las Vegas. In 5 days of Mecum auctioning, I believe 8 Commandos were offered. They all sold and the average selling price was a little above $8,500. Median price was almost the same. One of the 8 was a 'barn find'. The rest were restored and looked clean. Bonhams only had a couple Commandos to auction and they were specialty items that I don't consider good indicators of the market. If you look at recent eBay sales, the numbers are a little lower.
  17. lazyeye6


    Feb 28, 2014
    So......one can expect a very well sorted Commando in which one has invested $12,000 (or more) to bring $8500 at auction.
    +++ those unforgettable and pleasurable years wrenching and riding.

    I recently sold mine to my nephew for $12,000. I don't feel guilty at all since it has cNw electric start, Landsdowne Dampers,
    Ikon shocks, IWIS chain, and much more. And for continuing to wrench on it I get to ride it. A win/win.
  18. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Jul 12, 2015
    It's nearly impossible to make a profit. When I don't consider my time, I make $500-$1000 rebuilding and selling Commandos. Of course, that is not a viable business. I generally start asking $13,000 and end up selling for $11,500. I can easily see them going for a lot less at auction. It not the same as talking to the builder, riding the bike, and being able to call the builder for questions/help later.

    BTW, they don't sell well on eBay either. However, Triumphs do for some reason.
  19. rvich

    rvich VIP MEMBER

    Jul 25, 2009
    I have lots of thoughts on this, mostly conflicting!

    There is a trend these days for "kids" to be buying clothing that makes them look blue-collar, right down to stains from the factory. So apparently "the look" is appealing. I would think old Commandos would fit right in there. It amazes me actually how hip I am to wear clothing that has paint and oil stains on it. It shows I'm the real deal!

    There is also a trend among "kids" to not buy disposable items. I've seen some interest in owning items that CAN be repaired. So its possible that the people who are coming up next as consumers will actually want old stuff. That its probably the gap between the baby boomers and the 20 year olds that are less inclined.

    However, its possible that they next generation of consumers will not want anything that runs on fossil fuels. So maybe we figure out an upgrade for our Commandos that makes them rechargeable! I think this last item is what will eventually dictate what happens to old bikes and cars. It may be cool to dress in stained Carhartts and boots but not so far as to actually ride a bike that leaks oil and spews gas fumes.
  20. NickZ


    Oct 31, 2018
    Some of them did sell for $12,000 or more. $8,500 was average.

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