Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike

It’s unlikely that our stateside readers will be the Sotheby’s Villa Erba sale May 27 on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, but these pictures needed to be exposed.

During the RM Sotheby’s sale, the official auction house of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, a single-owner collection of rare motorcycles will go on the block.

The collection, dubbed “Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike,” features 20 motorcycles from the past century, including race-winning motorcycles such as a 1957 Gilera 500 raced by Derek Minter, John Hartle and Phil Read.

1928 Brough Superior SS100 “Moby Dick”
1928 Brough Superior SS100 “Moby Dick”

“Moto-Icons is without question one of the finest motorcycle collections ever offered at auction. It’s both a great privilege and thrill for our team to present some of the most coveted American, British and Italian bikes from one set, in one place, at one auction,” says Augustin Sabatié-Garat, RM Sotheby’s.

“From the incredible selection of Brough Superiors, led by ‘Moby Dick,’ to some of the best Italian sports and race bikes, highlighted by the Gilera ‘Four’ and other important machines such as Egli-Vincent, the group certainly provides a unique and exciting opportunity for collectors. We can’t wait to bring the collection to market next month and look forward to welcoming enthusiasts to Villa Erba, where they can also take in the fantastic motorcycle concours.”

Following is from the official press release.

The group is headlined by the historic 1928 Brough Superior SS100 “Moby Dick”, which leads a series of five bikes from the famed British manufacturer—examples that are commonly referred to as the “Rolls-Royces of motorcycles.”

Equipped with a 1140 cc engine, and specially tuned by George Brough and JAP, the “Moby Dick” was labelled by Motor Cycling Magazine in 1931 as the “fastest privately owned machine in the world,” a title earned by clocking 115mph in top gear.

2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cilindri
2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cilindri

Easily the crown jewel of any collection, a more unique and historic road bike would be hard to find (Est. €500.000-€700.000). Additional notable highlights from the  British marque set for RM’s Villa Erba podium include a 1936 Brough Superior SS100, one of 102 SS100s built with the Matchless engine and presented in excellent mechanical condition (Est. €180.000-€250.000); a superb, concours-quality 1938 Brough Superior SS80 De Luxe (Est. €100.000-€150.000); and an earlier, V-Twin powered 1933 Brough Superior SS80 De Luxe, bought from  Brough Superior owner and CEO, Mark Upham (Est. €120.000-€180.000).

The group of stunning British bikes is completed by the 2011 Brough Superior SS100 750 “Baby Pendine”, which set a new record in both miles and kilometres at the 2013 Bonneville Speed Trials. One private owner from new, it comes to market in its record-breaking specification (Est. €100.000-€150.000).

In addition to “Moby Dick”, the ex-Scuderia Duke 1957 Gilera 500 “4-Cilindri” is also vying for top motorcycle billing at the RM sale. The last of 15 racing 500 GPs made by Gilera, this “4-Cilindri” example was raced by Derek Minter, John Hartle and Phil Read in period. Regarded by many to be the “sweet spot” of the Gilera Four iterations, which underwent many re-designs throughout its production, it’s very unusual for a model of this rarity to be offered for public sale, presenting an exciting ownership opportunity for collectors. It comes to auction in very original condition (Est. €380.000-€450.000).

1919 Indian Powerplus Board Track Racer
1919 Indian Powerplus Board Track Racer

RM’s Villa Erba sale wouldn’t be complete without some Italian superbikes, and with four MV Agustas on offer, bidders won’t be disappointed. Highlighting this group is a well-documented 2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cilindri, the last of six collaboration bikes created with World Champion Giacomo Agostini (Est. €200.000-€250.000).

The catalog also includes a 1968 MV Agusta 860 Magni, modified to 860 specification in 2007 by Giovanni Magni, son of famed Arturo Magni (Est. €100.000-€150.000), and a 1974 MV Agusta 750 S, originally owned by factory rider Gianfranco Bonera and sporting just 3,270 kilometres from new (Est. €90.000-€130.000). Also on offer, a one-of-400 production 1954 MV Agusta 125 Monoalbero Corsa, restored to competition specification and presented in stunning concours condition (Est. €40.000 – €70.000).

1957 Gilera ‘4-Cilindri’
1957 Gilera ‘4-Cilindri’

Additional highlights of Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike include the 1963 Norton Manx 30M, believed to be Jack Ahearn’s winning bike from the 1964 Finnish Grand Prix (Est. €50.000-€70.000); a 1954 BMW RS 54, one of only 24 RS54s built by BMW that year and later restored by former BMW factory racer, Kurt Busch (Est. €125.000-€175.000); an early 1919  Indian Powerplus Board Track Racer, among the first generation of motorcycles ever built (Est. €50.000-€70.000); and, a matching-numbers, freshly restored 1937 Zündapp K800 (Est. €20.000-€35.000). The complete collection set for RM Villa Erba can be viewed here.

The Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike collection is a terrific fit with the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este weekend, which also includes a motorcycle concours, being staged for its seventh year. In addition to showcasing five different classes, this year’s motorcycle concours will feature a special exhibition titled “Youth Dreams – Sporting 50cc in Italy in the 1960s/70s.”

For further information on RM Sotheby’s exclusive Villa Erba sale, please visit RM Sotheby’s.

‘Moto-Icons: From Café Racer to the Superbike’ to Sotheby’s Villa Erba Sale