Commando Values

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Sep 25, 2004
Picked up a Classic Bike Guide at the newstand and next to it was a copy of Vintage Motorcycle Price Guide by Old Cars. Out of curiosity I bought it. I was totally stunned at what I found inside. I've been informed I can purchase a near perfect "#1" 1969 750S and a nice rider "#3" of any other model of the same year, both bikes, for app. the same price as say any #1 condition 1971 model. And to top that off I can buy a couple of #1's and a rider quality pre 1971 Commandos for the price of one #1 850 Commando. I personally know of two #1 Commando's, a 1969 Mk1 Fastback and a 1975 E-start Mk3 and I can assure you that my friend who owns them values them about equally and that if push comes to shove the E-start would go first. What planet are these people buying their Commandos on? What really chapped my hide was that a common oil-in-frame late 70's Bonneville in top condition (much more easily attained/obtained) is valued at twice the price of my Mk1 Fastback. Remember those, the bike that won numerous engineering awards, along with the "S" and Roadster stood the motorcycling world on it's collective ear, staved off the Jap performance bikes almost single handedly and brought honor and pride to the dying British motorcycle industry? Some things just are'nt fair and this "price guide" is'nt one of them! Are the first generation Commandos, the same ones that set all those performance records and adorned all the magazine covers becoming the Rodney Dangerfield (God rest his soul) of motorcycling? These publishers need to stick to old cars... Grrrrrrr!
My two cents (and that won't even buy a BSA!)

Those guides tend to play fast and loose with a lot of so called "values".
In the classic bike world, a bike is truly worth what you can sell if for tomorrow if you have to move it out the door fast.
Having said that, the bike will probably have a lot more "value" to the seller than the buyer, as usual. If you were to actually try to move a bike at the prices suggested for some models (extraordinarily high) it will take a long time. Nothing new here really.
Take the prices with a large grain of salt for sure.
Funny thing about Triumphs, they have become very "in" in the last decade or so with prices through the roof. No doubt a clean Roadster is twice the bike any Bonneville ever was, yet it seems that only true die hard motorcyclists know this. Or people who have owned both!
Too many people just don't get it when it comes to owning a Norton. They don't take the time to appreciate the history of the Commando, nor its realtivly easy to get along with demeanor. They want to torture themselves with Triumph ownership while trying to look like Fonzie or Marlon Brando.
The good news is, that keeps Commando prices reasonable...until the cat's out of the bag or the Japanese collectors start getting a chubby for them. Nortons, that is, not cats!
I have a pretty large exposure to modern classic motorcycle sales and values because of my own interests and the fact that I have a couple of good friends who are serious collectors/investors, buyers and sellers of a fairly large quantity of bikes. I've got a pretty good idea of what Commandos are worth by asking prices and sales. I don't for a second believe that a 1975 E-start Mk111 in top condition is worth $17,000 (very big maybe) and a top condition 1969 "S" model is only worth $7600 (definitely fair) by comparison as this price guide suggests. I realize a lot of people really love the 850 models, but they don't sell for as much of a price differential as this guide would suggest. In fact of the five bikes I have recently viewed, two pre 71 Fastbacks went for $5000-$5500, one '72 750 roadster went for $3500, one '73 750 roadster went for $3800 and one '73 850 roadster went for $3200. All were what would be called #3 bikes by this guide. I also know of two 1979 Bonnelvilles that recently sold, a #3 for $3800 if I remember correctly and a #2 bike that sold for about $5000. If you can view a copy of this guide, do so for a laugh, just don't pay for it. I know Triumphs are popular, they always have been and probably will be. But to divide the Commando bikes the way this guide has is ridiculous. $11,000 for a Hi-rider versus $7600 for an "S"! I don't really know what to think of this publication, I'm just baffled.
For a Hi-Rider??

That much for a Hi-Rider instead of an S model?
Not only is that guide a laugh, but dangerous too!!!!!!!
I always thought that Hi-Riders were only sold to people too fried to know what they were buying. Looks like my observation still holds.
GASP! Well, if you want a nice, clean and well sorted Commando over here in good ole Germany, expect to pay serious money. Crap Commandos go for at least EUR 6000. You won’ t find anything half decent under EUR 8000,00, if you want to obtain a mint condition roadster, that’s EUR 9.500 to you, sir. And if you really desire a rare model (S Type, NPR, Fastback), you are talking telephone numbers (EUR 10.000 and a lot more).
People over here are very keen on characterful, charismatic vintage bikes (American, Italian and English) and they put their money where their mouth is. It is just like that. Go out and buy a H-D („Oh my god I am such an individual custom biker and get all the babes”) for at least EUR 20.000,00, or spend half that and savour the pride and joy of owning a true Norton Commando.
Prices have risen over here in the last decade, though. People become more and more aware of vintage bikes from the past.
I recently bought my mint condition Commando 750S for EUR 9.500,00. And I am a lucky bastard, because you won’t really find a lot of them over here. That’s the kind of money you fork out fork a brand new H-D 883 Sporty, or a Duc Monster 800ie or the new Buell XB 9 CityX.
I’d rather have my Commando...

Cheers from Hamburg! Matt
I realize that top condition bikes can and do fetch five digit figures here in the USA, but what is really distressing me and what I can't figure out about this price guide is why do they list the early Commando (1968 thru 1970) at such low value figures as compared to the 1971 and later bikes? They're talking about thousands of $ less (many), model per model, in all conditions. Unless those USA readers are'nt familiar with Old Cars Price Guide who publishes this motorcycle guide, they have been in business for many years and have a large circulation. I think that they're doing an injustice to the early Commando, which in my opinion, is a bona-fide British classic, not just some "also ran" like it is classified in this guide. I was looking for feedback from people who could shed some light on their sales experiences with the early versus later Commandos. I plan on contacting the publisher of this guide and querying them on what data they use to establish their guide. As I stated before, it's my experience at least with the nicer quality early versus late Commando that there is not a huge difference in the selling prices of theses bike. I would say that generally the 850 brings a little higher money than the average 750, but not that much! Maybe I should let this lie. I think I'll go out to the garage and tell my nice clean Mk1 Fastback (now nicknamed "Rodney") that it's average old Triumph Trident (don't get me going on this one) stablemate is worth more money in the collector world and don't expect too much respect!!

Ye gods, man! You let your Commando sleep with your Trident?!
Hush the little ones inside lest they see such things!
Reminds me of the old Triumph rider's mantra:
I would rather be riding my Triumph...
(because Norton riders always catch me pushing it home). let's work out those accomodations to reflect family values shall we?
Here are the results from the 2005 Daytona auction.
These prices need to have the 10% buyer premium added but reflect "real world" values. I try not to go since there is always some old POS that I end up dragging home. Then I see the results when I don't go and kick myself for missing out on a bargain. Only 2 Commandos sold and both looked about right. There was an Atlas that looked real good but it's hard to tell from the photos. The Triumphs didn't bring the big bucks like last year maybe the "investors" were out buying tulips or custom choppers this year.

(hope I logged in right) :roll:
The P11 was a reasonable buy too. It was about 80% correct. I was real curious about the '59 and '60 Bonneville with "factory race packages". I had never seen these before. I guess they never met the owner's reserve as they aren't on the list. After last year when Dick Brown's immaculate pre-units brought such eye-popping prices ($22K for a Bonnie!?) I expected even more this year, but didn't see them.

The market in old bikes is fickle. If you do it as an investment, you chose the wrong one.
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