Former longtime employees of Eddie Rickenbacker’s are set to receive proceeds from an auction this month of the vintage motorcycles that once hung from the San Francisco bar’s ceiling.
Norman Hobday, who died in February 2011, opened the bar located at Second and Minna streets in 1986. He had always been fond of motorcycles, his brother Jack Hobday said in a phone interview.
The family was given two years to settle Norman Hobday’s estate, Jack Hobday said, and he wanted workers to benefit from his collection.
“That’s what he wanted; they’ve been with him a long time,” Jack Hobday said, adding that his brother’s personal Harley-Davidson also will be up for sale.
Norman Hobday was a fixture at Eddie Rickenbacker’s, which was named after a WWI Medal of Honor recipient, and was often seen wearing a bathrobe and sitting on a sofa watching the History Channel.
Norman Hobday collected 30 vintage American motorcycles, including an Excelsior, Henderson and Reading. There are also British and European bikes, including an Ariel, Monark, Moto Guzzi, Motosacoche, New Imperial, Nimbus, Peugeot and Triumph.
The collection was born after Norman Hobday acquired an old Indian motorcycle and realized it received lots of attention while on display at the bar.
All the motorcycles will be up for auction during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Nick Smith, a spokesman for auctioneer Bonhams, said the set is one of the most interesting he’s seen.
“As we were pulling them down I thought, ‘This is quite a way to earn a living,’” Smith said.
Because the collection sat largely untouched for years, Smith said, it could fetch a lot of money.
“There’s a lot of interest in purity for collectors,” he said.
Some of the bikes could go for as much as $60,000, Smith said.
Most of the bikes are replicas, but one surprise was the motorcycle that had a quirky paint job. Upon further inspection, a signature from Von Dutch, the motorcycle mechanic and artist, was found on it.
“That one is super rare,” Smith said. “We knew this bike belonged to a Hollywood stuntman, but no one knew Von Dutch had painted it until we saw his signature.’