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Bonhams 1793 Ltd – Motorcycle dept
101 New Bond Street, London
Tel:  020 8963 2817
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  • £15,000 Auction Estimate
  • 1954
Message the seller
Price £15,000 Auction Estimate
Ad Type For Sale by Auction
Category Motorcycles
Make NSU
Year 1954
Country UK
Region Oxfordshire
Telephone 020 8963 2817
Status Trade
Date 21-Jul-2020
Ref C1248061
This motorcycle is to be auctioned at our Live and Online Summer Sale, Hanger 113, Bicester Heritage, OX26 5HA.

Friday 14 August Spares & Memorabilia (Lot 1 - 212) 10am
Saturday 15 August Motorcycles (Lot 301 - 462) 10am
Sunday 16 August Motorcycles (Morbidelli Collection) (Lot 501 - 704) 10am

In light of the current government guidelines and relaxed measures we are delighted to welcome viewing, strictly by appointment. All the lots will be on view at Bicester Heritage in our traditional Hangar 113. We will ensure social distancing measures are in place, with gloves and sanitiser available for clients wishing to view motorcycle history files.

Please contact Bonhams Motorcycles with your preferred date, time and vehicle registration number to book an appointment.

Wednesday 12 August 1pm to 5pm
Thursday 13 August 9am to 5pm
Friday 14 August 9am to 5pm
Saturday 15 August 9am to 5pm (Lots 501-704 only)

Please note that whilst public viewing is available by appointment, the auction itself will be conducted from a remote saleroom, behind closed doors without public access, in accordance with the current government guidelines. All bidding will be conducted via Online, Telephone and Absentee Bidding. Please contact our Bids Department to register.

Hangar 113
Bicester Heritage
Buckingham Road
OX26 5HA

FRAME NO. 215515
ENGINE NO. 789 854R
• Bought by Dickie Dale from Jack Forrest in 1958
• Present ownership for 32 years
• Restored in the 1980s
• Running condition

From the start of the 1955 season, the NSU Sportmax was simply the fastest over-the-counter 250-class racer on the market. As well as providing works-supported rider Hermann Müller with the 1955 250cc World Championship, the Sportmax was one of the most competitive lightweights of any kind available to the privateer, and in the right hands proved capable of a respectable showing in national events well into the 1960s. Other prominent stars Sportmax-mounted for '55 included John Surtees, Sammy Miller, Pierre Monneret and former NSU works rider Hans Baltisburger, while later in the decade an up-and-coming Mike Hailwood used the ex-Surtees example to spectacularly good effect. Some sources estimate the total number of Sportmaxes produced to be 34, with a number of others constructed from spare parts after the NSU race shop was closed and sold off in the late 1950s. Today genuine examples such as that offered here are keenly sought after by collectors.

This Sportmax was purchased by its preceding owner, John Leatham, from the estate of the late Dickie Dale following his tragic death at the Nürburgring in 1961. Born in Lincolnshire, Dale was a regular Grand Prix competitor throughout the 1950s, the highlights of his career being second places in the 350cc World Championship behind his Moto Guzzi team-mate, Bill Lomas, in 1955 and '56. Dale acquired the NSU from Australian rider Jack Forrest soon after the 1958 Isle of Man TT and rode it for the first time at the Post-TT meeting at Mallory Park that season.

Leatham took the NSU with him when he moved from his native Ireland to Canada in the early 1960s. He raced the Sportmax in Canada before taking it off the track and restoring it in the 1980s. Kept in John Leatham's living room following restoration, the machine was purchased directly from him by the current owner in the late 1980s.

This particular machine, frame number '215515', falls in the sequence of other well-known examples, '215516' being the ex-Terry Hill machine and '215517' the ex-Surtees/Hailwood bike). In highly original condition, the Sportmax features Weinmann wheel rims, replacing the original Borranis which were included in updates made when 'loaned' bikes were returned to the factory for rebuilding at the end of the 1955 season. Restored in the 1980s, the machine was last started in 2018 and is presented in running condition. A substantial quantity of valuable mainly engine spares and tools are included in the sale (list available) together with a Sportmax instruction book.

£15,000 - 20,000
€17,000 - 22,000

As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.

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