387 vintage bikes may bring in a cool million at custom shop
By KEN BECKSpecial to The Wilson Post
The eyes of motorcycle enthusiasts from across the United States and around the world will be on Columbia Thursday when Sam Goodman sells off nearly 400 classic and antique motorcycles.
Sam Goodman, right, and Ronny Mangrum pose between a 1934 Brough Superior and a 1933 Royal Enfield V-Twin, two motorcycles that could fetch more than $100,000 at a classic and antique motorcycle auction at S&G Custom Cycles in Columbia, Tenn., on Thursday.
KEN BECK / The Wilson PostGoodman, 56, has operated S&G Custom Cycles since 1973 and during the years took in anything on wheels as trade for labor. His eye-popping showroom once held Harleys, BMWs, Triumphs, Suzukis, Yamahas, Hondas, Kawasakis, Indians, Cushmans and Simplexs, but now most are either beneath a big tent out back or parked across an acre of grass.
The auction stars 387 motorcycles and scooters from over the globe in every condition, from perfect originals and nice restorations to bikes with old paint and that need a bit of work. The bikes include dozens of Harley-Davidsons from the 1930s to the 1970s, as well of bikes of every brand as well as engines, parts for classic bikes, cars, trucks, memorabilia and even an airplane that Goodman crashed nearly two years ago.
“We sold about 100 bikes in 1995, and we plan to retire in six, seven or eight years,” Goodman said. “There‘s no reason to keep all this stuff. We’ll start collecting again, revamping and recleansing.”
Retired Lebanon orthodontist Don Freeman, who raced bikes professionally in his younger days, has known Goodman for about 30 years and took a road trip out West with him in the 1980s to the Rockies, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone.
“I always loved motorcycles. Sam worked on my Harley,” Goodman said of the XR1000 he used to drive. “Sam’s real intelligent, good-hearted, and he carries a sense of adventure with him and the feel of freedom you get on a motorcycle. He has a very amazing shop with room after room of motorcycles, hanging from the ceiling, stored everywhere.”
Goodman, his staff and extra help have been preparing for six weeks moving, pushing and cleaning bikes. “What’s gonna pull people in is this incredible variety of motorcycles at an absolute, no-reserves auction,” said Glenn Bator of Bator International from Ojai, Calif., who is partnering with auctioneer J. Wood of J. Wood & Company out of Crystal River, Fla., to promote the event and sell the bikes.
“Sam had a wandering eye and collected some very rare stuff. There are bikes here from Sweden, the Eastern Europe bloc, Japan, Canada and the United States,” Bator said. “I was like a deer in the headlights when I walked into the shop and saw his bikes. I was awestruck. It was hard to absorb it all at once.”
Normal shop hours for S&G Custom Cycles at 1114 Galloway St., in Columbia, are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday and closed Sundays-Mondays. Toll-free phone: 1-866-380-0202; local phone: 931-381-7282. For more information, go to www.sgcustomcycles.com.The motorcycle auction runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday. Today is inspection day.
For auction terms and more details, go online to www.jwoodandcompany.com or www.batorinternational.com.The list of nearly 400 motorcycles to be sold at auction includes the following: 1934 Brough Superior, 1933 Royal Enfield V- Twin, 1948 Scott Flying Squirrel, more than 50 Harley-Davidsons, including Big Bikes, Sportsters, Sprints, Hummers and Toppers–1942-1981, six BSA’s 1940-1971, 50 Hondas 1964-1982, nine Cushmans 1943-1965, 10 Allstates, Triumphs, Simplex’s, Rokon, Hodaka, Suzuki, Whizzer, Puch, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Lilac, 1947 Indian Chief, 1971 Indian 50, Zundapp, Ural, Dnjepr, mopeds, scooters, mini-bikes, Mustang and NSU.
Among the cars to be sold: 1930 Ford Model A Sedan, 1923 Ford Model T, 1917 Ford Model T, 1929 Ford Model A Roadster Clown Car, 1967 Ford Galaxie 390, 1957 Chevy Pickup, VW Bug Pickup.
Bator, who with Wood, handled this past spring’s Daytona Antique & Classic Motorcycle Auction, said they anticipate from 1,000 to 3,000 potential buyers at the auction.
“Every hotel room around is booked,“ he said. “Total sales could top $1 million. It all depends on the economy and how hot it is.”
The antique and classic motorcycle broker estimates the 1934 Brough Superior could fetch from $55,000 to $90 grand, while a 1933 Royal Enfield V Twin should bring between $15,000-$20,000.
Mechanic and businessman Goodman recently has turned his attention to the 700-acre farm that his father left to him after his death in October. So, he is spending time at both shop and farm. But the bike shop remains his big passion.
“I love everything about this place,” said Goodman, who sports a flowing brown moustache that merges into his gray beard. “It’s never the same here. Every day is different. I go from being a brain surgeon to a marriage counselor to motorcycle mechanic, all in one day.”
Motorcycles run deep in Goodman’s roots as he fooled around with Harleys and Cushmans during his childhood. His grandfather, Earl Jacobs, opened a dealership in 1919 in Mt. Pleasant. His uncle, Dempsey Goodman, relocated the business to Hohenwald during the World War II years and operated it until 1976 when the franchise was offered to Sam, who spurned the offer.
“We could have been a Harley-Davidson dealership but turned it down. They wanted me to turn this business into a boutique. I didn’t like that. I wanted a custom shop,” he said. “This business has been everything to me. We starve in winter and there’s never no end in the summer. It’s feast or famine.”
Sam began his original shop in Hampshire, Tenn., with $2,000 in parts. He later operated from Mt. Pleasant and two Columbia locations before moving in late 2003 to his current location on Galloway Street inside an old tobacco warehouse with 35,000 square feet of space.
“This is what a Harley-Davidson dealership looked like in the old days. This is old school here,” said Sales and Parts Manager Ronny Mangrum, Goodman‘s right-hand man. “I been heartsick since Sam decided to sell these old bikes.”
Mangrum, a native of Franklin, and a Civil War buff, came to work for Goodman in 2002. He aptly describes the place as “a Cracker Barrel-styled décor motorcycle shop.”
Three other full-time employees fuel the shop with years of experience and know-how. These include mechanics Charlie Penrod and Neal Goodman (Sam’s cousin) and bookkeeper Regina Goodman, Sam’s wife. Recently retired after four decades of work here was William Christian, a motorcycle genius and record-setting biker.
After the excitement and attention of Thursday’s big auction wind down, business will return to usual.
“We build custom bikes, repair and service all models and styles from Harley to Honda and do restoration work,” Mangrum said. “We also sell parts and give free advice over the phone.”
But this no-reserve sale is going to be big as hundreds of cycles go on the auction block. They range “from junk to classics,” Mangrum said.
“A 1934 Brough Superior is going to draw a lot of attention,” said the sales manager. “It’s a very rare English bike and the type that Lawrence of Arabia was killed on: the same year and model but not the same bike. We‘ve gotten calls from around the world, Japan, England, France, Spain about this one.
“Another rare bike is a 1942 Harley-Davidson WLA. It’s all original. Somebody quit riding it in 1979 and set it in a barn. We got it six or seven years ago.”
Among other delicacies on two wheels are a 1971 Superglide with a boat tail, a 1973 Spotter Sportster, a 1998 model 95th Harley-Davidson anniversary model, a 1940 BSA WWII military model, a rare Japanese 1962 Lilac M-39 and a sparkling 1947 Indian Chief that Sam describes saying, “It runs as good as it looks.”
Goodman’s collection was amassed through the decades as he purchased some at salvage trade shows and took others in barter as customers paid their bills.
“Some of these bikes ain’t seen daylight in 15 years,” Mangrum said. “Sam being the pack rat from hell.
“I pulled out a dozen that are not in the sale -- our favorites -- so that there will still be something here to entertain the masses a little bit, but not deluged like it was. I pulled out a real rare one, a 1977 Confederate Edition FLH.”
There is plenty more here to entertain motorcycling enthusiasts, including Goodman’s own colorful bike. He took what was reusable from the bike that his brother, Jimmy “Cornbread” Cone, died on after a high-speed wreck in Nashville in 1981 and customized it into a rat bike on which he has ridden more than a quarter million miles, traveling to almost every state as well as taking numerous short trips with his dog Belle, 14, who can be found some days at the shop.
The bathroom also proves noteworthy as the walls are plastered with photos of dozens of riders beside their first bikes and their current bikes, all courtesy of Mangrum who writes a “Flashbacks” column for Thunder Roads magazine and tells the story behind the photographs. “This is where I do my best work,” he jokes in the john.
Of all the remarkable attractions at S&G Custom Cycles, the greatest curiosities may be the cremated remains of three veteran bikers who wished to be enshrined in the cycle shop. Behind glass on shelves in the main showroom, from top to bottom, are Jeff “Toe Jam” Martin, Willis Gordon Turpin and Ralph Agee.
Turpin kicked off the trend after contracting cancer and dying in 1989.
“He had a phobia and didn’t want to be buried with bugs in the ground. So he had himself cremated in Columbia,” Mangrum said. “Then his sister came in from Louisiana and had him buried. Well, we had a going away party like he wanted, and halfway through a keg of beer, we had a great idea. We went over and got him.”
Thus, the three urns in the showroom memorialize the bikers. And Turpin even continues to travel to bike rallies as original customers pop in from time to time and tote him to various bike events.
No worry though. The boxes with the ashes are not for sale. Only vintage bikes will be auctioned, not vintage bikers.
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at email@example.com.