Every time you hear about a new barn find collection, do you find yourself wondering just how many more barns are left? For as wild a ride as 2020 has been, it’s a bit comforting to know that some rather good things don’t change.  

Sure, not every halfway-decent wrench turns out to be a known Norton tuning legend, but an awful lot of people share that same passion. Maybe you know someone with eight bikes tucked away in a shed as projects, in various stages of completion. Better still, maybe that’s you.  

Take Joe Ryan, a Northern Irish motorcycling legend. A fireplace-maker by trade, Ryan found that tuning motorcycles was his true passion. His specialty was Nortons, and Ryan Nortons came to dominate the racing scene in the 1950s and ‘60s. On November 25, 2020, eight of Joe Ryan’s personal bike collection will come up for online auction through H&H Classics. 

To be clear, these aren’t Ryan’s racing Nortons. Instead, they’re a collection of bikes from the early days of motorcycling, that Ryan assembled to tinker with after his retirement. They range from 1911 to 1935—and if you’re interested in the early history of motorcycles in the region, you’ll want to see these. 

The rarest of the bunch is a Norton Model 9 Brooklands Special 500cc, thought to be circa 1922. The engine turns and has good compression per H&H, but clearly needs work if you want to get it running. There’s also a 1923 Zehnder, two early Triumph 3 ½ horsepower TT Roadsters from 1911 and 1913, a 75cc Kenilworth from 1923, an AJS E6 Big Port 350cc from 1925, a 1923 Douglas Model TS, and a 1935 Rudge 250cc Sports 4-Valve to round off this collection.  

Gallery: Joe Ryan Barn Find Motorcycle Collection

All eight of these bikes are expected to fetch between £3,000 and £10,000 ($3,998 and $13,326) apiece. The Norton Brooklands is expected to be the star of the show. You can find out more about the online auction here. While it’s sad that we never have as much time as we think we have, you could also be leaving behind a nice little treasure cache for the passionate tinkerers coming up behind you. I don’t know about you, but I find that rather comforting.  

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