CLASSIC MOTOCROSS IRON: 1959 MONARK 500:

December 5, 2011
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By Tom White

Sweden’s Monark is one of the rarest motocross machines of all-time. In 1954, they entered eight bikes in the International Six Days Trials and won eight gold medals. In 1959 Sten Lundin rode an Albin-powered Monark to the 500cc World Motocross Championship.

From its birth in 1913 to its demise in 1975, Monark specialized in chassis and suspension development. The company relied on power from aftermarket engine suppliers Albin in Sweden, Sachs in Germany and Morini in Italy. It’s hard to know how many Monark 500s were actually built. According to Nisse Wedin, himself a Monark owner and an expert on the marque, only nine machines were built. After the 1959 World Championship season, Monark stopped competing in the FIM World Championships, and another Swedish company, Lito, started manufacturing an almost identical machine (also in very limited quantities).


MXA’s featured bike was purchased by the Early Years of Motocross Museum from a collector in Holland who was riding the bike in vintage races. It had undergone many modifications. Unfortunately, those modifications included different forks, shocks, wheels, footpegs, carburetor, seat, tank and handlebars. Tom White had Don Harrell, a respected British motorcycle restorer, return the bike back its original 1959 championship look.

There are questions about whether this was one of the nine original Monark 500s or one built from leftover parts. The best guess is that this is the tenth Monark. Tom White of the Early Years of Motocross Museum doesn’t care if it was an actual Sten Lundin bike because, of all the bikes in his remarkable collection of 130 motocross machines, this is his favorite motorcycle and is a beautiful example of one of the rarest motocross machines on the planet.

1959 MONARK 500 MOTOCROSS FACTS


WHAT THEY COST
The World Championship-winning Monark 500 would be worth approximately $250,000! One of the other eight original machines would be worth around $100,000. And this authentic example, without pedigree, is still valued at $50,000.

MODELS
There are Swedish military Monarks with Triumph engines and several versions with BSA and Hedlund engines, but only nine versions of the GP bike were built. Most of the original nine bikes were repainted in Lito colors and raced. It is assumed that around 25 frames were built before production stopped.

WHERE TO LOOK
The chances of finding an original Monark 500 GP bike are slim to none. There is rumored to be an Italian that will make a copy of either a Monark, Lito or Husqvarna four-stroke for around 30,000 Euro ($42,000). Proceed very carefully! For more info go to www.vintagemonark.com

For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com

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