1. 1916 Excelsior Model 16-3

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  30. 1916 Excelsior Model 16-3

Lot Number
60
From The Allen Smith Collection of Significant Motorcycles
1916 Excelsior Model 16-3


Offered Without Reserve

ESTIMATE: $50,000 - $70,000
CHASSIS NO: 88294
• Renowned early American V-Twin design, built in Chicago
• Painstaking long-term restoration by expert Brad Wilmarth
• Iconic early example of streamlined motorcycle design; captivating presentation
• Signature product from the constant challenger to Indian and Harley-Davidson

61 cid air-cooled, OHV V-Twin engine, Schebler carburetor, three-speed transmission with chain drive, trailing link front fork with leaf spring, rigid rear suspension, rear brake; wheelbase: 57”


The constant challenger to Harley-Davidson and Indian during the first 30 years of the 1900s, Excelsior motorcycles were produced by Chicago’s Excelsior Supply Company and debuted in 1908 in 500 cc single-cylinder, belt-drive form. Excelsior gained its well-deserved reputation as a reliable, top-quality machine when all three factory bikes that entered the Chicago-Kokomo Reliability Runs achieved perfect scores. Since Harley-Davidsons were prized for reliability, and Indian dominated the sporting side of motorcycling, Excelsior excelled in both disciplines with the launch of its V-Twin models offering high power output with nimble handling.

Excelsior’s designs progressed rapidly, with improved handling and ease of starting and operation, plus its version of the popular Sager-Cushion front fork and a robust drop-forged frame. In addition, Excelsior’s positive oiling system enhanced engine longevity, correctly heralded by the factory as “…one of the most thorough and efficient oiling systems ever used in connection with a gas engine.” In 1911, the company was acquired by Ignaz Schwinn of Schwinn bicycle fame, who would expand the Excelsior line and continue its development of Big-X Twins as well as the four-cylinder Henderson.

Excelsior’s competition success was remarkable, with a “Big Valve” racing model scoring a convincing victory with riders Carl Goudy and Bob Perry winning a 300-mile relay race at Boston in 1915, where they clocked a 68-mph average on the dirt track. Later that year, Goudy broke all records in a 300-mile event at Chicago’s Maywood Motordrome, leaving his closest challenger (Teddy Carroll on an Indian) four laps in his wake. Other wins scored by Excelsiors included the National Hillclimb Championship. Everlasting fame was achieved in 1912, with an Excelsior becoming the first-ever motorcycle to attain 100 mph in a sanctioned race, at a time when most road bikes struggled to exceed half that speed.

Formerly owned by Brad Wilmarth of Chesterfield, Virginia, this 1916 Excelsior Model 16-3 is quite likely the finest product of his considerable vintage motorcycle restoration expertise. According to a recent conversation with Mr. Wilmarth, the Excelsior 16-3 occupies a unique transitional place in company history as a model introduced for mid-year 1916 with a repositioned shift lever. He purchased it in 1988 and invested a great deal of time and effort over the next 15-plus years locating the proper parts, restoring the bike, and then re-restoring it until he was fully satisfied with the end result in 2005. Areas of particular emphasis included the paint finish, with colors carefully matched to original samples, and the bike’s virtually impeccable metal plating. Allen Smith added this outstanding 1916 Excelsior Model 16-3 V-Twin to his renowned “quality over quantity” vintage motorcycle collection in September, 2009. Period-correct, skillfully restored by a known and trusted expert, and simply beautiful, this 1916 Excelsior Model 16-3 is a spectacular example of an iconic early American V-Twin motorcycle on every level.

1916 Excelsior Model 16-3
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