The 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller is officially credited as the first two-wheeled vehicle to be called a “motorcycle.” Now, one of the machines produced during its 1895 production run can be yours in an auction scheduled for April 25.
Officially billed as the “ultimate barn find,” the 1895 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller is totally unrestored and is probably as good as junk. Heck, it looks like it belongs in a trash heap. Regardless, its status as one of the earliest examples of a motorized crotch rocket makes it a veritable treasure in whatever form.
Manufactured in Munich, Germany, the powered two-wheeler features a 1488cc twin-cylinder, water-cooled, four-stroke engine, capable of putting out a measly 2.5bhp at 240rpm. It ran at speeds of up to 30mph during its heyday, which should have you leaving…errrr…wheelchairs and baby strollers in the dust. There’s no exact figure on how many such motorrads were produced, but estimates peg it at anywhere between 800 to 2,000 units. Needless to say, surviving examples are extremely rare.
According to Bonhams, who will be holding the auction, the vehicle has not been used since the 1930s (its last owners were an American family) and is virtually untouched since that period. Whoever buys it will likely have to spend a ton on restoration, but any price to bring it to life sounds absolutely worth it.
How much is this 1895 Hildebrand & Wolfmüller expected to fetch? Bonhams is looking to let it go either to serious collectors or automotive museums anywhere from £40,000 to £60,000. Now, if only your grandpa had the foresight to collect junk vehicles from his day, you’d have been rich now too.