Saturday, December 05, 2009


Indicating just how fashionable and chic vintage motorcycles have become in the wider world of design and finance, the Wall Street Journal Magazine ('WSJ' - a blatant aping of the New York Times 'T' quarterly design magazine), in their holiday 'artisan issue', has no less than three photographs of motorcycles, two of which are vintage.

First mention is seen (below), quietly, in a feature on wunderkind industrial designer Yves Behar, whose Mission One electric sportbike was débuted here. The sportbike is pictured in a kaleidescope of Yves' work, which includes the $100 'one laptop per child', which has already sold one million units. (Full disclosure; Yves is a pal of mine and is business HQ is in SF - Fuseproject - his business partner Mitchell Pergola is like family to me.) Seeing the Mission One in the conservative WSJ was an eyebrow raiser.

Mid-magazine shocked me with the top pic of Mario Moretti Polegato and his collection of vintage Moto Guzzis...Polegato happens to be the owner of Geox (the 'breathable shoe') and has a net worth of $1.5 billion (of course the article mentions his wealth - it's the Wall St. Journal!). Polegato's collection began when his father discovered a '27 Guzzi in one of the tunnels beneath thie family home, the 17th Century Villa Sandi (clearly the family had a head start on their current billions). His collection now included eight vintage motorcycles, as well as a modern Honda Gold Wing and a Valkyrie. "I like to drive motorbikes because when I use the helmet nobody knows me." When he spotted a '52 Guzzino in the shed of a local oenologist's estate "My enthusiasm surprised him, and he sold me the bike for a ridiculous price." Obviously Mario is well-bitten by the Vintage bug.

But wait! Theres' more! In their Top 10 artisanal gifts for the holidays, the Riviera Café Racer is available, without a quoted price, from Walt Siegl, who builds custom motorcycles in an 1833 New Hampshire textile mill. The pictured machine was built for Tyler Hays (the artist and furniture maker) - as Hays wanted a Harley engine, the Riviera has a Shovelhead motor with modified bodywork (that tank looks very very much like a re-badged Benelli Riverside). A former motorcycle racer from his native Europe, Siegl was a toolmaker in Austria before becoming a cultural attaché for the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, then sculptor in steel in Long Island. Today his sculptures roll, and roar.


YJH said...

great sharp & keen post, Mister great Observer_
and may I add that French AD has quoted in their December issue page 28, #2 of 100 ultimate gifts the P120 Fighter Combat by Confederate_last month during a special Carine Roitfeld Vogue evening avenue Montaigne, I saw my friend Marie Kalt editor of AD riding on a Moto Guzzi, wearing a Chanel suit_what else, as George says

daveinnola said...

i found the times article on shlitz beer very intresting

Sleeping Dog said...

Fashionable? Chic? There goes the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

Re the WSJ, a few years ago I published an article in the inaugural
issue of _International Journal of Motorcycle Studies_ (March 2005) with
the following lead-in: "In March 2004, the Business Section of _The New
York Times_ discovered the classic British bike scene. 'Before the
Japanese began volume production of large-displacement motorcycles,' the
paper’s correspondent wrote, 'the most popular import bikes came from
England. Owners endured many of the same frustrations that bedeviled
drivers of British sports cars, including oil leaks and balky electrical
systems, but the bikes’ powerful engines and excellent cornering
compensated for those drawbacks….Acquiring the top-grade machines today
is no different than dabbling in fine art—an expensive proposition.'"

At least twice in the last month or so, the _Times_ ran a full-page
color ad for BlackBerry with a photograph of an AJS single posed against
a mountainous--US Southwest?--landscape. Looks like the bike was a '49
or '50 rigid-frame Model 16 (350) or Model 18 (500), export version.
It's impossible to gauge the cylinder capacity from the photo. I posted
it to the AJS-Matchless E-Group, and another member observed that the
girl on the motorcycle (so to speak) must have been dedicated, to ride
pillion across such a rugged terrain. I'm attaching a copy of the ad, so
you can determine for yourself.

Feel free to use any of this that you think may be of interest to your
(ever multiplying numbers of) readers.

Best, and thanks for the recent posts.