Unfortunately, we all just missed the opening party; the New York Times 'Design' magazine this Sunday had a page devoted to "The Well-Curated Home (Fine Artists Collaborate with Design and Fashion Houses)".
One of the artist's works on the page was a custom motorcycle - which certainly caught my eye as it has a single-cylinder engine - definitely not your typical custom (see top photos of the machine). The suggestion is to 'install the art in the garage'... if you're so inclined. I think at the price being asked, they're more likely to be hung on the wall...
The Ippodo Gallery (in NYC and Tokyo) is hosting the 'Chicara Liquid Chrome' exhibit, from Nov. 7 - Jan. 31. The artist/builder is Chicara Nagata, and he's won quite a few prizes for his custom motorcycles. He typically spends around 7500 hours hand-crafting every piece on his bikes, and has three of his two-wheel creations in the exhibit. Nagata won the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in 2006 (I didn't even know there was such a thing), and placed second in 2007. The motorcycle in the top two photos is the 'Chicara III', which uses a 1950 Meguro racing engine, Triumph gearbox, and Schebler carb; everything else is hand made.
The Meguro engine looks like an Ariel Red Hunter crankcase mated to a JAP speedway cylinder and head; such were the hybrids being produced in Japan in the early years - 'copy the best'.
The lower photo shows 'Chicara Art I', which was the 2006 winning entry, and is built around a '39 Harley Model U engine (1200cc flathead). It represents a more typical layout for a custom, although the work appears to be an order of magnitude better than most customs I've seen. Still, a bit shiny for my taste - but no more than 'Copperknob' or 'Silverknob'! And, for the kind of money being asked, you could buy many genuine Vintage racing machines, with provenance....maybe even Copperknob itself!
If you're thinking of buying one one of Nagata's machines from the gallery, they're asking a cool $1 million each. That works out to about $133/hr of Mr.Nagata's time, but galleries usually take half on sales, so unless he has a deal worked out, he's only making $67/hr, which sounds shockingly reasonable... by the hour, if not the total!
What do you think of the first RETAIL MILLION-DOLLAR MOTORCYCLE?
UPDATE: A documentary about Nagata's motorcycles has been posted on Current.com. Chris Winterbourne, the film-maker, wants us to vote for the video on the site, so he can continue making documentaries on interesting subjects!
See the documentary here.