A rusty Raleigh Chopper which was saved from being thrown in a skip has sold for hundreds of pounds at auction. The iconic 1970s bike had spent 35 years in a garden shed in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warks., before its owner almost threw it away during a clear out.
Despite being covered in rust and having two flat tyres, the three-speed bike sold for more than six times its estimated value of £100. It fetched £692 when it went under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on Saturday.
The 50-year-old seller said: “It was in my dad’s shed. I didn’t realise it was there, just rusting slowly. It was mine in the late 1970s and early 80s when I was nine or 10.
“It’s got the original gear shifter – not the later T-bar from those pesky safety people. It was great for wheelies and potholes. I remember seeing the chopper advertised in Look-In, a kids’ magazine at the time.
“The advert featured a bike with a T-bar gear shifter but this one has a single-lever shifter. My dad came home with the Chopper. He bought it second hand from some chap.”
Auctioneer Charles Hanson said: “This was an exceptional result for an iconic bike. Due to its rusty condition, it was destined for the skip.
“However, it has now been saved for posterity. I hope its new owner will enjoy restoring it to its former glory.”
Raleigh Choppers are highly collectable items and in 2020 an MK2 model which had never been ridden sold for £1,250. The bikes became a symbol of 1970s and 80s childhoods and each cost around £34 new – the equivalent of £361 today.
The Chopper was manufactured by Nottingham’s Raleigh Bicycle Company and stood out because of the dragster-style handlebars and long saddle. However, its design has sparked debate with claims made by both Tom Karen of Ogle Design and Alan Oakley of Raleigh.
The Chopper was designed in response to the Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycle first manufactured in 1963.