SOTP Vintage Series
Main Motorcycle: The one between my legs
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Upstate NY
Other Motorcycle: A few
Extra Motorcycle: Yes
Gray top seat is from the mid-60's. This bike could be nice to look at and that's it.
Look closely and make sure it is mechanically correct. Parts and Service manuals are available on-line so you can look in the parts book and determine which major parts might be wrong.
Make sure the numbers on the engine match the frame. If not, then it is a bitsa bike, made from parts and as pretty as it looks, it's just an assemblage of parts and the value is whatever somebody is willing to pay.
A nice original 500 is worth maybe $2500 in the US. They just don't sell like the big twins. Maybe worth more in warmer climates, but not in the northeast.
If the numbers match, then mechanical condition is key here. Paint color is a detail that can be fixed. If it runs well, guy has receipts for engine work, everything is straight and correct, it's a decent bike to consider. You'll spend more than $4K making a roach into a nice rider. But to make it correct, you need a correct seat. The one on the bike may be a repop seat pan so not worth much more than the cover and foam. Side cover and oil tank should be painted black. As for the foot peg rubber mentioned here, remember, this is Miami. You could put a new bike out in the sun for a year and all the rubber parts would look like a dry riverbed. So that does not concern me.
Subtract whatever you need to make the bike correct from the purchase price and that is what you should pay for it. So repaint, new seat and probably a few other details. If the numbers don't match, then it is a very pretty bike of very little value. You never get your investment back from a restoration unless it is a very rare bike. Any by rare, I mean Crocker, Brough and so for. 500 Triumphs are not rare.