I bet you had a great new year celebration with laughing, drinking, talking, dancing and staggering.
I didn’t. I had one of those 360 reviews. Well it was more an 180-degree review where the boss and the HR person told me all the things I was doing to bring the paper — sorry, global multimedia platform — into disrepute and how what I wrote last year was offensive to most people in the community and why did I leave my last job and come to The Weekend Australian? I answered “because the old company relocated and didn’t tell me where”.
Anyway, as you know not only is my business editor a motorcycle maven, the new editor-in-chief is one and so is the ultimate boss.
So, in my 360 that was really a 180 I had to promise to write more about bikes even though I think the people that ride them (with the exception of my boss, the editor-in-chief, etc) are temporary Australians who still have one-handed magazines like Playboy under their bed and who mostly work in HR.
The real job of HR persons is to make sure the boss’s tax is done and that he or she gets unfairly compensated for having the biggest office, the protected parking spot, travelling first class and having their head in the paper saying critical things about gender equality, how hopeless politicians are, how shareholders are a nuisance at AGMs and how proxy advisers don’t understand executive compensation.
So here we go today. The easiest thing to write are lists. Everyone loves them and they fill the space like nothing else. Actually, this list of the three most expensive bikes sold at auction is controversial and maybe wrong, but who cares?
Drum roll: the most expensive bike sold at auction was one of four Captain America Harley-Davidson choppers built for the 1969 movie Easy Rider. Starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Phil Spector and Jesus, the film has no plot but wonderful scenes of gratuitous violence, sex, drug taking, motorcycle riding, drug running, jail cells, anti-establishment behaviour, shootings and majestic scenery. My bible, Wikipedia, says “the film captured the Zeitgeist of a generation and became an anti-establishment symbol”.
Before you order a copy to watch with the kiddies on the LG AI ThinQ 77-inch C8 4K UHD OLED Smart TV (a tad under $10k at Harvey Norman), two things to note: the actors really took the drugs and there is no happy ending unless you have a prurient hatred of drug-taking, promiscuous, motorcycle-riding, and anti-establishment men in leather.
Anyway, civil rights activist Soney Vaughs, Ben Hardy and Larry Marcus designed and built the bikes, one of which was written off during filming and the other three were stolen. Investor Michael Eisenberg bought the remaining bike from Grizzly Adams star and bike and animal wrangler Dan Haggerty, whose beard was once set on fire by a fellow who bumped into him with a flaming cocktail. Mike owned a motorcycle-themed restaurant, Thunder Road, with Fonda and Hopper before it, too, caught fire. In 2014, Mike sold the bike for $1.5 million.
A little lighter on the pocket is the 1951 Vincent Black Lightning Bonhams sold to an Australian reader last year for $1.3m. One of 30 made, the original and unrestored Vincent set an Australian speed record in 1953 when Jack Ehret rode it to an average speed of 227km/h on a public road outside Gunnedah. Then there’s the 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer which, because it was owned by Steve McQueen, who should have played himself in Easy Rider, sold for $300,000 over the last sale of one of these at $1.1m.
While the Cyclone company only lasted three glorious years, it had the most advanced motorcycle engine built. On the racetrack there was no competition. On debut in 1913, factory riders JA McNeil and Larry “Cave Man” Fleckenstein were timed at 173km/h in a Minneapolis motordrome. JA went out next year and hit 178km/h, which was nearly 30km/h faster than the world record of 150km/h. Officials at the Federation of American Motorcyclists refused to accept the 178km/h figure.
Over the past month WART members have been preoccupied with planning the staff Xmas party, and wasn’t it a treat? Lightshades on the head, an OP Bundy and Coke and scallop pies tasting, a vertical Coopers tasting, a tasting of all 13 Penny’s Hill wines and the old fella himself, Michael McMichael, shouted us to an all-Tassie main course of Anvers chocolate meat pies sprinkled with Perigord truffles with an accompanying Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged 2004 sparkling wine.
The real point of this was to apologise for being so slow to answer your emails.
With the help of those of the team who have made it back to work after the party, we are working through your letters.
But we have made a breakthrough! If you have a problem with your car and the dealer and or manufacturer aren’t fulfilling their responsibilities under Australian Consumer Law and you live in Queensland, NSW or Victoria there is some hope through your state consumer affairs tribunal. In Queensland it’s limited to $25,000, NSW $40,000 and Victoria appears to be unlimited. If you live in any other state or territory you are stuffed.