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Tuesday, June 16, 2009
The Bell 500-TX Helmet - Worth its Weight in Gold!!!
As far as I know the Bell 500-TX helmet was first produced in 1962 but I've been watching the 1968 examples like the one shown here on Ebay. It boggles my mind that these helmets sell between $850 - $2,045 ($2,045 is what the pictured helmet sold for). I was told these helmets are more form fitting and don't appear like a huge egg on your head, thanks Tjebbe, but man does that justify the exorbitant prices they fetch? I can't say as I've never owned or tried one on but there has to be something special about these gems in order to grab over a grand each, even with a shot lining. Also, it appears the white ones are the most sought after but I've only seen white and orange. If anyone knows the secret behind these helmets please fill me in!
This 1968 500-TX sold on a Japanese helmet site was considered MINT; it has the foam piece on top. Geez, I wonder what it went for??? Acutally, I was doing a little reading online and saw that the 500-TX was the first helmet to get the Snell rating, however I'm doubtful that milestone plays much of a factor in its high value???
Here's a link to an earlier post of 500-TX that I thought to be late 50s but according to Bell it could only be as early as 1962 but as you will see it has very cool Bell and Bates waterslide decals on it: http://nostalgiaonwheels.blogspot.com/2008/06/1959-1960-bell-helmet-distributed-by.html
The two photos above come from an early 60s car accessory catalog I picked up at a local swapmeet today. The helmet pictured appears to be the same vintage as the one in the link above!
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Jeremiah has one of these in white. Hit him up. He may have some knowledge.
Jeeze, I think my first helmet was one of these. It was a white Bell that was a NOS (second), in 1975 when I bought it at a surplus store. It was kept in great shape as I almost never used it cause it was a little small for me and this was before the CA helmet law. The foam inside came un-glued from the shell ( I think that's why it was a second),but I still held on to it for a long time. I even tried selling it a couple times at the Long Beach Swap but finally tossed it thinking it was worthless. That was probably more than 10 years ago.
Crazy prices people with too much dough!!
Yeah I guess so!
Bell Helmets were seen back then as the quality helmet, something akin to Arai Helmets today.
As mandatory helmet laws spread across the USA helmet sales went way up and lots of off-brand helmets popped up on the market. Other helmets of the time were thought to be somewhat or very inferior to Bell who advertised "If you have a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet." I wanted to wear a Bell in those days but they were just too expensive for my after-school-job budget.
Later on I had some Bell Helmets and they were very nice, fit well, and looked good. It was a time when Bell was first forced out of USA production and finally out of business and I had to find a new brand, in this case, Arai.
Seeing the Bell brand return as cheap, branded merchandise sold at Wal-Mart is akin to seeing your high school sweet heart working as a hooker on a street corner.
Look through old racing photos and see how many Bell Helmets were worn. I have not but I'll be there are plenty of Bell products to be seen on famous racing heads.
Other good brands of the day were Buco, Hap Jones, and Fulmer but nothing had the cache of a Bell.
I have no idea why an old Bell Helmet should bring rediculous prices except that '60s era motorcycle style seems to be more "in" these days. Guess I should have kept all my old riding gear. I wonder what my old mx leathers are worth? Those I still have. I can get one leg part way in them. They seem to have shrunk over the last 39 years.
I forgot to mention I kept the original box the whole time I had the helmet. Collectors would have loved that.
For more helmet memories I just saw that Noot just posted a couple of Buco ads.
Doug - I had no intentions of questioning Bell Helmets' superior quality or historic place in drag racing and motorcycle history as Bell Helmets are and have always been top on my list. I just find it hard to believe that my 1970 Bell Star full face helmet cost $150.00 whereas if I was looking for a 500-TX two years earlier I would have to pay $1,000 more. Its a supply and demand deal and talking with my Japanese friend he believes that they have driven up the market for these helmets. I will post a link to an earlier post showing a very early Bell 3/4 helmet with Bates water slide decal. That helmet I could see going for $1,500 or so just because it appears to be late 50s or very early 60s.
Please don't misunderstand, I wasn't taking exception at all to your comments. I'm with you, it's nuts to pay that kind of money for an old motorcycle helmet unless it has some verifiable link to an important person/event. Just because it's old and slightly evocative of an era doesn't make it valuable, at least not to my wallet.
Is the 500-TX a special racing model? I have a 1962 Bell helmet and I am wondering if it is 500-TX or maybe something not so special. Anyone know how I can tell what kind I have?
I have a white 1962 mint condition bell that has a super early bell sticker on the front and doesn't even have a serial number on the snell tag. Valuable?
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