The recent news of Bonham’s consignment of the remarkably original 1902 Rambler Model B from the Indian Motorcycle Museum has set the world of motorcycle collectors buzzing. Now adding to the excitement, Bonham’s has announced another headlining addition to their third annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction. Thought to be the sole surviving example of a marque lost to time is a recently discovered, complete and original, 1905 Leo Two-Cycle made by the L.A.
Mitchell Motor Company of Oakland, California. This machine is historically significant for several reasons beyond its extreme rarity. Vehicles of California manufacture are exceedingly uncommon, Leo is thought to have been produced for just one year, 1905, and this now represents perhaps the earliest surviving example of an American two-cycle motorcycle. Unlike many manufacturers of the day, the Leo was a purpose-built motorcycle utilising a motorcycle – not bicycle – frame. Its lightweight, compact motor demonstrates the brand’s progressive vision as two-cycle engines were not commonly used in American motorcycles until after World War I. Nor was this machine simply a prototype as close examination shows evidence of many miles of use, suggesting an explicit, well-sorted product. Discovered in the warehouse of a New England museum where it sat hidden and forgotten for decades, the 107 year-old Leo is in extraordinary condition, offering a freely-turning motor, strong compression and original components, such as spokes and rims, Thor pedals and Troxel leather saddle. On Thursday 10th January at Bally’s Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, this singular Leo will join other highly newsworthy motorcycles – such as the rare 1939 BMW Rennsport Kompressor and Steve McQueen’s 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross – at Bonhams’ third annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction. With its strong history of finding rare machines and achieving excellent results for pioneer and California-made motorcycles, Bonhams’ event is not to be missed.