In one month’s time, classic car collectors will be salivating heavily as RM Sotheby’s returns to the stunning shores of Lake Como to run their biennial Villa Erba sale.
Held in partnership with the revered Concours d’Elegance competition at Villa d’Estre, RM’s Italian sale always manages to offer up a mouth-watering selection of rare and exotic automobiles, from the latest hypercars to exquisitely kept classics.
“Unlike RM Sotheby’s Paris and Amelia Island sales, our eyes aren’t on the cars. Instead, it’s all about the bikes”
This year, internet tongues have been set wagging by the consignment of a one-owner, never-been-used, never-been-washed 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.8. The 964 generation car is one of the rarest (and greatest) air-cooled 911s ever made, so the hype – and the €2,000,000-€2,200,000 estimate – are completely understandable.
However, unlike RM Sotheby’s Paris and Amelia Island sales, our eyes aren’t on the cars featured on the Villa Erba lot list. Instead, for us, it’s all about the bikes. From historic race machines to café racers, here are the rides we’re lusting after:
1970 Honda CB450 “Tribute to Japan” by Krugger
Anyone with more than a passing interest in modified bikes will recognise Fred Krugger’s name. The Belgian craftsman has worked on customised projects for all most all of the main motorcycle manufacturers, including Yamaha’s ‘Yard Built’ programme.
This particular machine, based on a Honda CB450, was built to be displayed on Honda’s stand at the 2013 Brussels Auto Show and, as the name suggests, is a celebration of all things Japanese.
Interestingly, Krugger decided to reverse the cylinder head on the CB450, allowing the exhaust to be tucked up tight underneath the tail. The mod wasn’t easy though. The Belgian reportedly spent 30 hours trying to make it all fit.
Finished off with a gorgeous rising sun motif airbrushed onto the fuel tank (itself taken from a 1966 ‘Black Bomber’), this rare chance to own a Kruger custom comes with an estimated price tag of €30,000-€40,000.
2010 MV Agusta 500 3-Cilindri
Yes, that title is correct. This is an MV Agusta 500 built just seven years ago. This is no normal replica however. Instead, this is a near perfect tribute, built by MV Agusta’s race engineers at HRT using the original three-cylinder 500 plans.
Just six were made and they were so good that motorcycle racing legend, Giacomo Agostini (the man who made the MV Agusta 500 an icon by winning the 1972 world title) wanted one. The example going under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction is that exact bike, complete with Agostini’s signature on the fairing.
Almost every detail of this recreation is identical to the original, including perfect replicas of the Ceriani Grand Prix forks and the 230mm front drum brake. The only concessions to modernity are the tyres and the Dell’orto carburetors (as the original parts weren’t available).
Thanks to the incredible accuracy of this replica though (and its legendary previous owner) the price isn’t cheap. You’ll need to fork out upwards of €200,000 to secure this MV.
2014 Norton Domiracer
Norton used to be a powerhouse in the motorcycling world. In fact, RM’s upcoming sale also features a grand prix-winning Norton Manx machine, the bike that cemented the British manufacturer’s place at the top of the tree in the 1960s.
Since its golden era, the company has lurched from one form to the other, with new model launches a rarity. In recent years though, Norton has enjoyed a revival, with fresh funding leading to awesomely crafted motorbikes like this 2014 Domiracer leaving the doors of its Castle Donington factory.
Just 50 Norton Domiracers were built, with each one powered by a 961cc motor described as sounding like “90 angry Rottweilers” by the bike’s creator.
Inspired by the style of classic café racers (but using modern materials, such as carbon fibre on the airbox), few Domiracers were registered for road use. This is one of them (and its chassis number one to boot). Expect to pay €45,000-€55,000 to get your leg over.
1962 BSA Rocket Gold Star Scrambler
Fancy a bit of classic off-road action? This BSA Rocket Gold Star Scrambler is the steed to keep an eye on at Villa Erba then. Originally supplied to its first owner in California, this early motocrosser has lived most of its life stateside.
With all the chromework glimmering, it’s clear that this particular BSA Rocket Gold Star – one of just 272 built – has been kept in immaculate condition. It almost seems a shame to relive its glory days and keep it ripping through the West Coast desert. Almost.
Complete with a full race camshaft and an awesome straight-through exhaust system, this isn’t for shy and retiring types.
RM Sotheby’s estimate for this gold standard Gold Star sits at €40,000-€50,000, though it will be one of a handful of ‘Moto Icons’ lots to be sold on Saturday May 27 without a reserve. Tempted?
1928 Brough Superior SS100 “Moby Dick”
Of all classic motorbikes, Brough Superiors are undoubtedly the most sought after. Dubbed “the Rolls-Royce of Motorcyles” by the period press, Brough Superiors were made famous by T.E. Lawrence (you’ll probably know him as “Lawrence of Arabia”).
RM Sotheby’s have no less than five up for sale at the Villa Erba sale. Five! Of the drool-worthy quintet, the most expensive example is this: a 1928 SS100 known as “Moby Dick”.
Brough Superior’s top of the range offering, the SS100 was powered by a 1,000cc V-Twin from either Matchless of JAP. The original owner, Charles Hobb opted for the latter, but the standard power output wasn’t enough for his tastes, so he tasked JAP with tweaking his SS100 further.
With a total of 65hp (21hp more than standard), “Moby Dick” could hit 115mp in top gear, making it the fastest privately owned motorbike in the world at the time. Perfectly restored to its former glory, this unique bike will make your bank manager wince a little though. The estimate is €500,000-€700,000.
For a full run down of all the lots on offer at the 2017 Villa Erba auction, head over to RM Sotheby’s site now.