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27th October 2014

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Buying Classic Bikes - Part Two

Stu Thomson is looking for his next classic project bike in its Italian homeland, hoping to find a bargain in reasonable condition...

After a disappointing visit to one collector, where all his bikes were priced too high for my budget, we arranged a second visit the following day. This was with another collector who was by all accounts retiring from collecting and selling up, so it looked to be a little more promising and with prices maybe in my range. My brother had already visited this chap when he was having an open day. The seller was keen to advertise the bikes for sale and to try to get some interest locally, so he really wanted to clear his storage.

This place was quite remote and took some finding. In Italy when you leaves the main routes the roads quite often become ‘unadopted’ with no tarmac and just gravel. A telephone call brought a very nice gentleman out to see us. We went into his place in the middle of a forest and were surrounded by vintage machinery, steam rollers, cars, motorcycles, bikes, scooters, go-carts and other motorised garden and military equipment. I got the impression that if it was Italian and had a motor then he had been interested in it for his collection. Many of the machines were in excellent, fully rebuilt condition and a few were in need of rebuild. All were stored in a purpose-built building.

Buying classic Italian Bikes

This housed a super collection of machinery: MV Agusta, Lambretta, bubble cars, mopeds, and in there somewhere a Aermacchi Chimera which looked like a jet engine with a wheel at each end! Obviously it came from the period when fully enclosed designs like the Aerial Leader and Vincents were popular, all preserved in the dry conditions of Italy.

Buying classic Italian Bikes Amazing what you can turn a Vespa into. This was a one-off special I think, adjacent to it was a similar example built as a truck. Top speed – who knows?

Buying classic Italian Bikes More MV Agustas than you can shake a stick at. This is probably a 175 CS ‘Disco Volante’, named because of the flying saucer-shaped petrol tank, complete with alloy wheels

Buying classic Italian Bikes

The array of bikes was a feast for the eyes. I tried to say in Italian that I had died and gone to heaven but I think something was lost in translation. The seller asked if I was OK and needed a doctor!

I couldn’t be sure the last time any of these machines had been in use on the road. The seller said he didn’t ride motorcycles any more.

Buying classic Italian Bikes An array of lovely Motom racing bikes, all 50cc, superbly finished. The closest one was a five-speeder, while the others had four gears. The Italians in this period liked to have pads on the tank so the rider could get low like the racers…

Buying classic Italian Bikes Looking closely at the Motoms: the silver one shows that typical tank pad, quick-release filler cap, racing seat and handlebar fairing. The Italians really love their little bikes; must remind them of when they were young and carefree

Buying classic Italian Bikes A lovely Moto Parilla two-stroke. Judging by the single seat and girder forks it might be late 1940s or early 50s. Even the forks look flashy with an aluminium friction wheel. And check out the period 1950s goggles…

Buying classic Italian Bikes A Moto Perugina two-stroke. I just love that style of handlebars. It’s even got a steering damper! Necessary for the Italian roads in the 1950s (and they are pretty bad even today)

The array of bikes went on and on. I’d never seen a Gann before or a 125 Sterzi. There was even a Guzzi with handlebars for the passenger! There were so many names I could not remember them all. I couldn’t see any examples of little Italians which I’ve previously rebuilt, like my Moto Morini Corsaro or Gilera Giubileo, although there was a Moto Morini Corsarino, the 50cc model.

Buying classic Italian Bikes The Bianchis even come in green: not very Italian! High spec though with alloy flanged rims and steering damper Classic Italians on Now...

Buying classic Italian Bikes This three-wheeler may have been a scooter at one time, or a moped as it has pedals. There was a pushchair next to it along with some children’s vehicles… and a rotorvator (Italian of course)

Buying classic Italian Bikes How many scooters does one man need – about 20 it would seem?

After looking at all these vehicles we then went into another hall which was full of cars, commercial vehicles, three wheelers and a few bikes that needed rebuilding.

Next time: finally finding a project bike at the right price…

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