“Holy Crap!” was the title of the email I got from MD Contributor Alan Lapp. It linked to a Craigslist ad from Auburn, California advertising a “VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE COLLECTION ALL or PART… Triumph, BSA, Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Cushman, NSU,Suzuki, Kawasaki, Indian, Tohatsu, Royal Enfield, Sears, VanTech, Steens, Bridgestone, Hodaka, Can-Am, Matchless…. Names like; Dick Mann, Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Hank Scott, Rich King, Rickman, Champion, Redline, Sonic Weld, C&J, Trackmaster.. Street Trackers, Cafe’ Bikes, Road Racer, Dirt Tracker, Moto-Crosser, Trials, Trail Bike, Mini Bike, Mini Cycle … Way too many to list…”
Okay! As the quote goes, you had me at hello. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on here, so I called the number in the listing and Gary Davis answered the phone.
Not a familiar name? You may know him from California’s vintage racing scene (especially if you’re into vintage flat-track), but if you’re a student of film, you’ll know Davis is one of the hardest-working motorcycle stuntmen in the industry. He’s been jumping, sliding, hopping and crashing motorcycles since the early ’70s, when a rivalry with Evel Knievel turned into a paying gig working as his stunt double when Evel injured himself (what? No!) yet again. “I’ve been his double ever since,” Davis told me, describing his career as a stunt man, then a stunt coordinator and stunt director on (or in) scores of movies including Viva Knievel, Rollerball, Futureworld, Grease 2, F/X, Lethal Weapon 2, Independence Day and The Amazing Spider-man. He’s done 326 jumps and never crashed a motorcycle during filming (except, obviously, on purpose), though he did break his back jumping a car while filming Smokey and the Bandit.
Davis, 63, is starting to think about retirement, and like many contemplating that big lifestyle change, wants to simplify his life. One easy way is to pare down his vast collection of 247 (yes, 247…and to think I have to stop at 3) motorcycles housed in a 10,000 square-foot warehouse—everything from custom cafe racers to flat-trackers to an array of movie-prop motos, including a Captain America machine complete with a big round shield on the front.
There are some gems still for sale, like a rare 1950s Matchless G80RR the Barber motorcycle museum is hankering for (plus he’s already sold an NSU Sportmax for $55,000), but there are also a lot of more pedestrian machines. Davis has a soft spot for early ’70s Hondas—he worked as a mechanic fixing them in college—and there’s lots of other stuff from every era and genre. We asked why he isn’t having an auction house like Bonham’s just sell everything at once, but he’s in no hurry. “It’s not a fire sale.” He gets dozens of calls, texts and emails every day, but there’s plenty of stuff and it’d probably be worth the day trip up to Auburn just to check his collection out. Look for the ad on Craigslist to get his number and give him a call. (I’d rather not invade Gary’s privacy by putting the number in this article, as it will live on long after the Craigslist ad).
Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of City Bike Magazine, and a frequent freelance contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com.