Sponsored by Finarte
By Dain Gingerelli
Fantastic 1952 Rumi 125 Sport is one of the stars of the Motofinarte Motorcycle Auction.
Powered by a 125cc 2-stroke twin rated at 6.9 horsepower, the Sport was one of Rumi’s best-known models.
Classic Italian motorcycles are available in America: That’s a given. During the past few decades a fair number of bikes from that celebrated peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea have made it to these shores, and many of those bikes are considered works of art in their own right. After all, they’re Italian, and when it comes to style, those emotional romantics from Southern Europe love nothing more than to mix speed with timeless beauty.
But simply owning a classic Italian motorcycle is no guarantee that your bike will be unique from other classic Italians at a vintage bike meet. And let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than showing up with your Italian job, only to find your bike shares a place in line next to … a similar model. There’s only one Mona Lisa, one statue of David, and there should be only one truly classic Italian motorcycle like yours at a bike meet, right? What to do?
The answer might be found online at the Motofinarte Motorcycle Auction, where you can shop for your next classic Italian motorcycle, currently resting in Italy where it’s untouched and unseen by American eyes – and your cyber-based quest for a truly Italian classic bike happens in just a few days on March 25, 2018. That’s when Motofinarte will offer 129 motorcycles – most of them classic Italian motorcycles and scooters that, in many instances, were never sold in America – for sale by auction. The auction itself takes place in Bergamo, Italy, but you can do your bidding from your laptop computer at home – or wherever you happen to be on March 25.
Motofinarte is part of Finarte, one of Italy’s premier auction houses. Founded in 1959 by Milanese banker Gian Marco Manusardi, it exists to help collectors acquire fine art such as classic paintings, sculptures, furniture, coins and much more. And that includes classic motorcycles, be they Italian bikes or brands from other countries. But rest assured that most of the bikes listed for the forthcoming March 25 auction are Italian classics, meaning rare and hard-to-find models will become available to American collectors, too.
Signing up for the auction also means that you won’t have to buy a costly airplane ticket, nor book an expensive hotel room – and you won’t even have to worry if your passport has expired! You can learn all about registering as a bidder by visiting the Finarte web site’s registration page. You can also view the lot of 129 motorcycles on the web site using the flip-page catalog that features every bike that’s being offered.
Built by Mondial chief mechanic Nerio Biavati, this 1957 Mondial features an uprated
200cc overhead cam engine. Note how the fairing attaches to the gas tank.
In the meantime, we did a little window shopping of our own to see some of the choices awaiting top bidders. A bulk of the bikes on offer come from the Migliazzi Collection, which originally was formed and maintained by Italian collector Gianni Migliazzi with the help of his brother Sergio. Gianni himself did much of the restoration work to his bikes, with more than 40 up for bid. Most of the collection’s bikes wear the Rumi badge, a short-lived but once-popular marque that was headquartered in Bergamo, site of the auction.
Rumi initially manufactured engines for other motorcycle manufacturers, but following World War II, when affordable transportation was at a premium in Italy and Europe, the Bergamo-based company decided to build its own bikes, too. Among Rumi’s first models was the 125 Turismo, a bike powered by a twin-cylinder, 2-stroke engine. Several early examples of the feisty tiddler are offered in the Motofinarte auction. There are also several variations of the Rumi 125 Sport Bicarburatore, a sleek model boasting road-racer styling, that will be on the block.
Looking for something really unusual? Flip the catalog’s pages to Lot 21 to check out a 1955 Rumi Scoiattolo scooter with wicker-basket sidecar. The scooter’s body is fully enclosed, so nobody will know that the engine features an electric starter – until you toggle the switch to activate it. And check out that cool chromed jet-age ornament on the scooter’s valance-style front fender. This little rig is art deco, Italian chic and American funk on three wheels.
Powered by an uprated, 8.9 horsepower version of 125cc 2-stroke twin used in the Turismo,
this 1957 Rumi Junior Earles Esportazione with Earles fork front end is one of only 300 made.
Before you move on to some of the other bikes, check out Lot 26, which shows a 1957 Rumi Junior Earles Esportazione. As the name suggests, the Junior Earles Esportazione boasts an Earles fork. Gianni Migliazzi himself competed on this bike in various historical reenactments of the popular Motogiro d’Italia and the Gran Fondo Milano-Taranto, both modern-day classics of legendary Italian events from the past. Now that’s Italian!
Spectacular circa-1962 ITOM 50 Super Sport features a 50cc single-cylinder 2-stroke.
If you’re into tiddler road racers, scroll to Lot 68 to view the ITOM 50 Super Sport. The ITOM acronym stands for Industria Torinese Meccanica, but of more importance are the bike’s classic lines and stance. Full fairing, long and sleek gas tank, solo seat with bump stop, and a wicked under-belly expansion chamber hint at road racing, not road riding. The 50cc engine is claimed to deliver 11 horsepower through its 4-speed transmission.
Another Motogiro veteran is a 1956 Aero Caproni 75 Normal, one of two being offered. The Aero Caproni’s engine featured a unique cam drive system, and its frame’s rectangular steel tubing is reminiscent of the aluminum Delta Box frames that came nearly 40 years later on Grand Prix road race bikes. And being a Motogiro-style bike, this 75 Normal boasts a front number plate and clip-on handlebars! Motogiro America, anyone?
Scooter collectors should check out the small batch of Italian urban runabouts on the docket, too. Flip through the online catalog to view them, but one that is sure to raise interest is the 1970 Vespa 90 SS (Super Sprint). When this model was first introduced in 1965 it immediately became a favorite of Italian teenagers and young men, and for good reason: This scooter looked like no other on the market. It featured a small gas tank behind the tilt-down handlebars (like a road racer!), and stashed within the foot well is a spare tire. The little scooter has suspension front and rear, and the exhaust system was chrome plated at the factory. This particular example comes with certification from the Piagio Historical Register stating the originality of the vehicle.
The collection includes many other brands, ranging from Gilera to Motobi, from Moto Guzzi to Moto Morini, plus MV Augusta, Laverda, Mondia, Ducati, and more. There are also a few American and Japanese brands in the mix, and a couple of German NSUs, as well. If ever there was a chance for American classic bike collectors to use the phrase “unobtainium classic” this is it. This 129-bike lot is sure to include Italian models that were never sold outside of Italy.
This will be one of the great auctions of the year, if not the decade, so don’t miss your chance to own a piece of rolling Italian art and history. Register to bid online now by clicking here. And one more thing: If you happen to buy one of the unobtanium classic Italian bikes from this auction, let the editors at Motorcycle Classics magazine know about your purchase by sending us a picture of your new collectible so that we can share it with our readers. After all, art is to be enjoyed by everybody, not just its owner!