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To Be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at RM Sothebys' Dare to Dream Collection event, 31 May - 1 June 2024.
Offered Without Reserve | $60,000 - $80,000 USD

  • America’s original “superbike,” capable of 96 mph
  • Previously restored by specialists with correct colors and equipment
  • A striking and significant piece of motorcycle history, ideal for display

Please note, this lot is located in Canada and import duty will be applicable to all countries outside of Canada, including the United States. RM Sotheby’s will be available to assist buyers with importation to the United States.

The automobile developed at a blistering pace in the early 20th century; the only thing faster—figuratively and often literally—was the evolution of the motorcycle. Joseph Merkel of Milwaukee, Wisconsin began tinkering with powered bicycles in 1901 and started selling to the public the following year. Less than a decade later, the meticulously engineered Flying Merkel Model 471 was capable of 96-mph speeds—if only one could find a road good enough, and rider brave enough, to push the envelope!

Offered here is a Model 471 V-twin track racer, exactly as it was presented from 1910 onward, when one could purchase the Flying Merkel from a catalogue. It sports a single-speed transmission and the desirable final chain drive, rather than the belt drive that was an option. It boasts a headlight, mounted on correct brackets, as well as a sporty foot-operated cut-out on a new “silent” muffler. Behind Merkel’s patented Truss Spring Front Fork, the improved loop frame is built from AA1 standard welding tubing, with Double D reinforcement at the joints and flexible joints covered by oiled leather. Despite 28-inch wheels, the Flying Merkel’s suspension permits a low seat height. A Musselman rear coaster brake is activated by back-pedaling.

A previous owner researched this motorcycle’s history back to the early 1950s, when it was owned by noted racer “Shorty” Tompkins, of Sacramento, California. Tompkins was renowned for the quality of his collection, which also included the famed 1915 Cyclone board track racer. Following Tompkins, the Flying Merkel was owned by collectors Stu Laidlaw and Loren Burch for many years, and it is, indeed, believed to have been a California resident since new, as evidenced by the 1914 California license plate.

After passing into the collection of a subsequent owner, an expert in Flying Merkels, it benefitted from a ground-up restoration in correct and appealing colors, including eye-catching “The Flying Merkel” tank graphics. Remarkably, after the completion of the restoration, the bike has reportedly never been fired and has been shown only once, at the 2009 Newport Concours d’Elegance in Rhode Island, where it was awarded Best Bike. In 2013, it was acquired by the Dare to Dream Collection, where it has been carefully maintained as a fascinating display piece.

Surely one of the finest extant examples, this 1914 Flying Merkel Model 471 is a testament to a daredevil age, evocative, powerful, and rare in equal measure. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at

  • 0 Miles
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 AUTOMATIC
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • RefCode: 4AEA62C4-8316-661D-8501-40046E0955CD