Lot Number
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1906 Thor Single Board Track Racer

Offered Without Reserve

• Beautifully restored and presented early American board track racer
• Fascinating piece of early American motorsports history
• Formerly owned by noted motorcycle collector Bill Melvin
• Includes custom display stand incorporating Thor company logo

243 cc air-cooled, single-cylinder engine, single carburetor, chain drive, live front and rear forks, coaster brake

During the early days of American motorcycle manufacturing, the Aurora Automatic Machinery Co. of Aurora, Illinois produced Oscar Hedstrom’s motorcycle engine design for George Hendee’s Indian. Since Hendee’s bicycle production facilities were sufficient to manufacture the cycle parts of his ‘motocycles’ but lacked the capability to cast and machine the engines, Aurora was a subcontractor. Part of this arrangement allowed Aurora to use Hedstrom’s engine in the company's own Thor motorcycles, and also to sell these engines to other small motorcycle manufacturers. In return, Indian earned royalties for each engine sold.

While Aurora’s Thor motorcycle was the fruit of Indian’s need in 1902, the Thor brand existed long before and had established ties to George Hendee while he was a bicycle manufacturer in the 1890s, supplying him with Thor-branded bicycle hubs. Thor also produced America’s first sidecar in 1903. By 1908, the Hendee Manufacturing Co. finally had sufficient facilities to build its own engines and, in truth, the original single-cylinder Indian engine was becoming obsolete. When Indian and Aurora/Thor finally parted ways, the factory hired William Ottoway to improve the engine and establish a racing team. By 1910, Thor introduced all new single-cylinder bikes and a 61-cid V-twin, continuing to improve them over the following years, but eventually discontinuing production in favor of supplying forgings and components to other motorcycle manufacturers. Finally, in 1920, Aurora’s directors cancelled motorcycle production entirely, switching focus to power tools and household appliances.

While active in motorcycle production for a relatively brief period of time, Thor certainly produced some of the fastest and most visually striking early American motorcycles. Racing was part of the company’s program, with Thors regularly populating the field on America’s fast, deadly, and wildly popular board track races of the 1900s and beyond.

Looking fast even while standing still, this 1906 Thor Single Board Track Racer exemplifies the speed and romance of early motorcycle racing in America. Featuring great presence and appearing to have been used little, if at all since restoration, this Thor was acquired by noted motorcycle collector, enthusiast, and businessman, Bill Melvin, who sold it to Allen Smith during early 2009. The small but mighty Hedstrom engine displaces 243 cc and breathes through a single Schebler carburetor and long tuned intake pipe. Adding to the competition flair are the short handlebars and purposeful black tires. A custom display stand incorporating the Thor company logo provides peace of mind while storing or showing this masterpiece of vintage American motorcycling and racing culture.

1906 Thor Single Board Track Racer
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