Auctions: Italian motorcycle treasure hunt

Simon de Burton casts his eye over an incredible lot of historic Italian road and racing motorbikes and picks out the highlights

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This 1957 DEMM production racer is expected to fetch up to €14,000

The Netherlands is small, but it’s believed to be home to more than 1500 significant private collections, one of which is this remarkable 79-lot sale of Italian motorcycles made between 1932-75.

Comprising mainly single-cylinder machines, the trove of rarities was amassed by a Dutch Harley-Davidson dealer, who made many of his discoveries during regular road trips to Italy, often unearthing models that only survived in single-figure numbers.

Brought about as a result of the loss of exhibition premises, the auction will kick-off with the sale of 15 display-mounted engines by makers such as Moto Morini, Garelli and Ducati, before moving on to the motorcycles, many of which serve to chart the remarkable history of Italy’s dominance as a producer of small-capacity, high-performance race bikes during the early post-war years.

Typical examples on offer include a jewel-like Ducati Cucciolo 65T with an Atala competition frame from 1952, a 1957 DEMM 175cc production racer and a ’56 Gilera 250 that was built by engineering students from the University of Milan to compete in that year’s Motogiro d’Italia.

Also notable is an incredibly rare off-road machine built by MV Agusta in 1956 – a 175cc Regolarità Monoalbero that was one of just six produced and the only original and intact example of the two that survive.

MV’s road racing wins are well known, but the marque’s success in enduros is less so. In 1954-56 its official factory team, for which the Monoalberos were built, took gold at the International Six Days Trial. This example is thought to be the first to have been offered for public sale. It will cross the block at ‘no reserve’, but is likely to fetch up to €22,000.

The jewel in the crown of the collection is an even rarer Moto Rumi from 1961 – a four- cylinder two-stroke that is one of a believed three to have been fabricated by Giuseppe Fabbri, the Ravenna-based Gilera agent and talented ‘special’ builder who created it by grafting together a pair of 125cc engines in-line. Fitting them flat in the frame meant maximum cooling for the heads and barrels and a free flow of air for a quartet of Dell’Orto carburettors fitted with vertical trumpets.


The result was an 18-horsepower screamer which, according to auction house founder Richard Hessink, has already attracted interest from afar afield as Argentina, North America and Australia, and could cost up to €45,000.

Fans of the futuristic ’50s will be drawn to the jet-inspired Aermacchi 175 Chimera (pictured above) that featured an ahead-of-its-time fully enclosed engine and monoshock rear suspension. Described at launch in 1956 as a ‘machine for today and tomorrow’, it was a flop with just 119 sold worldwide. Could this prove that the Chimera’s tomorrow is here?

The Italian Motor Museum Collection, Amsterdam
Overall estimate €400,000- €500,000.
On sale July 18 with Hessink’s, Amsterdam.
(Restricted viewing, telephone or sealed bids only).