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Cleveland Tornado Four

Last Saturday, Bonhams auctioned off “An Important European Collection of Pioneer, Vintage and Collectors’ Motorcycles” at the RAF Museum just outside London. And one of the stars of the show was this magnificent 1929 Cleveland Tornado Four. It fetched a remarkable £48,800 (US$72,600) inclusive of the Buyer’s Premium, despite having mismatched engine and frame numbers. That’s partly due to the rarity of the Cleveland brand: like some US motorcycle makers of recent years, Cleveland was killed off by economic depression. The auction notes tell the story well: “The Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company, of Cleveland, Ohio was in business from 1915 to 1929, commencing modestly enough with a single-cylinder two-stroke lightweight before progressing to a mighty 61ci four … At the 1929 New York Motor Show, Cleveland unveiled the ‘Tornado’—featuring a new, lower frame and various engine improvements aimed at boosting performance. In its ultimate ‘Century’ incarnation, Cleveland’s biggest four was a genuine 100 mph machine (each one was tested and certified prior to delivery) but its arrival in 1929 just ahead of the Wall Street Crash was unfortunate to say the least. Despite the Century being, arguably, the most advanced four-cylinder motorcycle of its day, Cleveland’s directors decided to cease manufacture later that same year after only a few had been completed. This rare Cleveland Tornado four was purchased for the Collection in 2007 from a jointly owned private collection in Spain.” Check the sale catalog for more mouth-watering vintage motorcycle goodness. [Photo used with permission of Bonhams.]