Two grand prix 250cc Benelli racing motorcycles were top of the huge Bonhams’ ‘live and online’ summer sale, held behind closed doors from August 14-16.
Offered from the much-anticipated sale of the Morbidelli Motorcycle Museum collection, the bikes broke the auction world record for the marque at the virtual Bonhams summer sale - achieving a total of £3.67 million over three days.
A 1950 Benelli 250cc Grand Prix motorcycle, ridden to world championship victory by Dario Ambrosini, was the first to set the new record, selling for £138,000, only for it to be broken minutes later by its stablemate, a 1964 250cc Grand Prix machine, winner of that year's Spanish Grand Prix, ridden and signed by two-time world champion Tarquino Provini, which sold for £149,500, the top lot of the weekend's sale.
Meanwhile, a concours 1979 Ducati 864CC Mike Hailwood Replica – a landmark model paying homage to 'Mike the Bike's' historic Isle of Man comeback victory in the 1978 Production Race – sold for £36,800.
With the late Giancarlo Morbidelli having a particular passion for Benelli, the oldest Italian motorcycle manufacturer also founded in Pesaro, the marque's success in the sale was no surprise. An ex-works 1959 Benelli 250cc Grand Prix example, one of only four built, sold for £83,950.
Ben Walker, International Department Director for Bonhams Collectors' Motorcycles, said: "We were very proud to have been entrusted with the sale of this stunning collection, carefully put together over 40 years by Giancarlo Morbidelli, which was a fitting tribute to this master of the motorcycling world."
He added: "Here was a unique opportunity for international motorcycle collectors and enthusiasts to bid for some truly special lots and we were pleased that the collection received strong interest from across the globe. We're also delighted that several lots will continue to be displayed publicly at various internationally acclaimed museums around the world."
A contemporary rival of the Benellis – a 1963 Honda 250cc CR72 Racing Motorcycle also raced home to a new owner, selling for £89,700 on Day Two of the sale, while the ex-Texaco Heron Team Suzuki 1975 750CC XR11 Formula 750 racing motorcycle sold for £51,750.
Veteran and vintage motorcycles performed particularly well, with a 1916 Harley-Davidson, 1,000 Model J & Package Truck Sidecar realising £56,500, while a 1909 Minerva 31/2hp with Wicker Side car, a regular participant in the London to Brighton Pioneer Run, achieved £29,900. An extremely rare 1928 Montgomery 680cc 'Twin Five', a Banbury-concours winner known as 'Rommel', sold for £37,950.
Beautifully-restored machines were also stellar performers. The successful bidder of the aforementioned Mike Hailwood Replica also bought a 1956 BSA 499CC DBD34 Gold Star, the subject of a total restoration in the early 2000s, for £23,000 from the same vendor.
James Stensel, Head of Bonhams UK Motorcycles, said: "The new live and online format has performed incredibly well and exceeded all expectations, with more than 1200 bidders registering for the sale.
"The appetite for important motorcycles and for one owner collections continues to grow and the results achieved over our three-day Summer Sale clearly demonstrate a resilient and buoyant market."