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CraigsList Craziness: Best Collection Ever?

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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49 Comments

  1. holly says:

    What a beautiful collection. I am interested in the VanTech bikes. We are trying to get y dad, Bill VanTichelt of VanTech motorcycles nominated to the AMA Hall of Fame for design and engineering. If you are interested in sending in a letter of recommendation to support his nomination, please feel free to e-mail me at holly@veruslawgroup.com, and I will forward the letter form. thanks, holly

  2. adrian says:

    That NSU sportmax is my dads bike that he built back before he passed away.. So nice to see it again.. Wish i could get my hands back in it..

    • MGNorge says:

      Do you have any data on it?

    • Fred Mork says:

      Hi,
      I picked up this machine from Gary Davis Friday April 4th and am interested in any
      previous info you would be willing to pass on to me about it and your Dad’s involvement.
      I would also welcome you and at my residence any time you want to see it again
      My home phone number in California is 1-925- 228- 5117 and email again
      is fred@waltermork.com Sincerely
      Fred Mork

  3. Jon says:

    I see a Rich King RS750. I sent Rich the link. Be cool to see bike and rider reunited

  4. dino says:

    Just noticed in several photos, the little oil catch pans under the motors… A good thing the way I see it, as that means they have likely been running and riding many of these, as they should be! I would retire and just work on keeping that fleet in proper order!

    Someone mentioned the Barber Museum collection (Birmingham, AL) Been on my bucket list since they opened! Gotta get there soon!

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Been on my bucket list since they opened! Gotta get there soon!”

      HUSTLE UP…!!!

    • DB says:

      Been there, well worth the trip. There is also Barber Vintage Days in the fall, eye candy overload!!

  5. Guylr says:

    Not one but two Tohatsu 50 Runpet Sports! That fellow has great taste in bikes.

    • MGNorge says:

      Reminded me of the Yamaguchi Autopet 50 a friend had when we all started riding. Good stuff! I see a Honda Motosport 90 there, a bike I lusted for when I was 14.

      • Guylr says:

        Yeah, the Motosport 90 was a one year model and I don’t remember ever seeing any of the blue ones.

        • MGNorge says:

          We were very much into trail riding and just exploring. There was some mining in the area along with power line roads which seemed to go on forever. For its day the Motosport 90 seemed a good jump up from many of the other bikes of the time.

  6. Morgan says:

    They pale into insignificance compared to the TZ750 dirt tracker he had. Wondder if that sold?

  7. joe b says:

    obvious, many of us who frequent this site, like old bikes.

    • bikerrandy says:

      Maybe it’s because we’re older than the bikes and these bikes bring back a flood of our MC memories? Kind of like old songs do, at least for me.

  8. Bob L. says:

    I see a Cushman, Isetta, Honda S90, CB160, 305 Super Hawk, etc. Jeez, even an old sleigh in the rafters and that plane, hanging from the ceiling….can’t tell the scale, as there’s no reference. This is the kind of place we could just sit in a lawn chair, sip a cold brewski and listen to Gary tell us how each one, came into his possession. How fun would that be?
    I love the Matchless!!

  9. Craig Jackman says:

    Wow.

    It’s only money, right? I’ll make more, won’t I? My wife wouldn’t find out, would she?

    I love those old Honda twins. The 305 Scrambler and CB 350. A friend had one around for days when he didn’t want to ride his Harley. Said it would still run all day at 75mph. The “Narley” does it for me too … and the RS.

    I should stop now.

    • Eric says:

      I also love the ’70′s Honda scramblers and have owned several going back 40 years. Been a long time since I’ve had one in the garage. What’s stopping me is everyone in the northeast seems to think they own a ‘bobber’ or ‘cafe racer’ in the making and want $2500 for a rusted POS CL350 with hack sawed venders and butchered exhausts. Wait, here’s a nice original CL175 for $1900 Obo…

  10. Daytona James says:

    I’m not sure if I’m going to spell it right but ahhyuumm ahluuuuuh-mmm ooooahh.
    Tongue now covered in dirt but that was delicious. Thanks Gabe.

  11. Bones says:

    Fantastic.

  12. Austin ZZR 1200 says:

    Totally, totally overwhelmed. My idea of heaven

  13. Hot Dog says:

    And when I pushed the old barn doors open, air was sucked out of every port of my body! WHOA!

  14. Tommy See says:

    Fabulous collection ! Another see is JP,s museum in Anamosa. Awesome for us two wheel junkies!

    • Norm G. says:

      and yet another… Motorcyclepedia, Newburgh NY. a defacto Indian timeline that could raise Burt Munro, an equally killer HD display and other domestics like Excelsior and Merkel. also a surprisingly sorted section of Japanese kit that they don’t even mention or brag about…? but it’s there.

      http://www.motorcyclepediamuseum.org

  15. Vrooom says:

    I want that shop! The bike’s are awesome, better than awesome, holy crap awesome, but I gotta say I want that shop.

  16. takehikes says:

    Oh shit….this is only 10 miles from me! I just looked at the bank account…I can’t afford anything he has but maybe I need to look further….oh, god this may end badly….for me.

    • Provologna says:

      Dude, you are screwed. Hope you like eating peanut butter sandwiches, because that’s all you’ll soon be able to afford! Best wishes.

      That collection is motorcycle her’on.

  17. Nate says:

    Consider this a plug for Barber. If you ever… ever… get a chance to go to birmingham AL… please… mark off a whole day and spend it at The Barber Motorsports Museum.

    Words are inadequate.

    • bikerrandy says:

      This is a great bike collection, but it pales in comparison to Barber’s. In fact I can’t imagine any world wide bike collection comparing to Barber’s.

      What I like about this collection the most is all the old Hondas I grew up around and took for granted at the time.

    • Norm G. says:

      proud to say Geo Barber has been on the receiving end of my patronage 4x in the past decade. if you’re ever in ATL on business…? well there’s your opportunity. grab a rental and make a run for the border. you can cruise I-20 at 80mph all day, no worries.

      you can get to leeds, take in the scene, hop back in your car and make it to Hartsfield in time to catch your late afternoon flight out. I say this having done it. ATL’s legendary traffic problems are nothing to speak of when the weather’s fine and you’re West of the city.

  18. endoman38 says:

    Holy crap!

  19. Gary says:

    Think I would have died and went to heaven to have a garage and collection like that! Would spend most of my time there and get in trouble with the Mrs.

  20. TomH says:

    Love these types of articles. Really gets my mind going and boy would I like to have one of the Flat Track bikes for a Street Tracker.

  21. ABQ says:

    Reminds me of that motorcycle museum in central Kansas. Marseilles?
    I stopped in there one day 8 yrs ago and listened to the adventures of the old guy that owned it. I hope that this collection gets into its own museum.

  22. Tommy D says:

    Thanks for posting this. I have to share this with my girl friend. She wonders if she will ever get a spot for her car in the garage. Sorry babe that’s where my bikes go.

  23. todder says:

    Wonder if he’s gotten a call from Jay Leno yet.

    • Norm G. says:

      prolly why the ad’s been taken down. because he DID get the call from Leno. guys got nothin’ but time on his hands, and greenbacks burning holes on his pockets.

  24. johnny ro says:

    A life well lived. I have a miniature version of that with two bikes.

  25. Starmag says:

    Thanks Gabe, this is awesome. The occasional oddball Bring A Trailer-type post, especially when motorcycle news is slow, would be a good thing IMO.

  26. mickey says:

    Polaris/Indian should build something along the lines of that red Indian

    • Doug Miller says:

      A smile came to my face after seeing that little flathead, knowing that in the natural order of things a Scout can’t be that far behind the new Chiefs. Indian will respond to public sentiment after they recoup some investment capital through the sales of their new Chiefs.

  27. Kagato says:

    Incredible collection–hope Mr Davis makes out well from selling and has a relaxing retirement–I bet he won’t stay retired though : – )

  28. Brinskee says:

    The ad is no longer up… Maybe he was getting too many calls?

  29. Provologna says:

    Such splendiferousness is one of the few and rare things I miss about California since moving to Utah.

    What a collection!

    Gabe, whatever happened to Alex McClain’s collection from Motorcycle Unlimited in Corte Madera? Alex displayed several gems in the store. It still almost makes me cry thinking about Alex and the store being gone. Big hello to Alex’s family in case they visit this site.

  30. MGNorge says:

    What a blast that would be, just walking around soaking it all in!

  31. dino says:

    Holy Crap!! I feel dizzy just looking at all those bikes!!

    Now where’s my lottery tickets? I only need half that collection, starting with the “Narley”… Love it!

  32. mickey says:

    Holy Crap is right!