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Every generation has its
Holy Grail, its unattainable icon, that toy you
just can't have. Be it a certain car, a
rare guitar, or a limited edition motorcycle,
whatever it is, you will never own an specimen.
When you think about
cars, you might think of a Dodge Viper or any
Lamborghini as having that certain something
(such as price) that will keep you from putting
one in the garage -- permanently. Guitars.
Ah, how about a '59 Les Paul or a '57
Stratocaster. Once again, money IS the
object -- or should I say the lack
thereof.? Motorcycles. Well, a Bimota Tesi
will never grace the sidewalks in front of the
Village Tavern. Around here, that kind of
money buys a house.
A few years ago I found
an ancient copy of the Guiness Book of World
Records. Its publication date was 1976.
Always a fan of motorcycle trivia, I turned to
the pages listing all the biggest, best, fastest
slowest, longest, etc. for bikes. What I
found was a time capsule of both performance as
well as finance.
In 1975, the most
expensive production motorcycle in the world was
a Dunstall-prepared Kawasaki. It would
empty one's wallet of -- get this -- $4500!
A princely sum in those days, a 'novice' bike
today. Can you imagine how a 60 thousand
dollar NR750 would have seemed to Joe Biker circa
1975? 60 grand is big money today, but who
knows what a bargain that may appear to be in
twenty years. A scary thought, what?
When I started riding, I
also started reading motorcycle magazines. Naturally.
In those halcyon days there were more expensive
(but one-off's) motorcycles than the Dunstall
Kwacker. You have, no doubt, heard of the
Friedl Munch built Mammoth. This was a very
limited production machine. It's frame was
state of the art for the mid-seventies, which
means it would be a cruel joke today. What
made it exceptional though was its motivational
force. The Mammoth utilized a 1600cc NSU
automobile engine for propulsion. Some
examples of the Munch breed were supercharged on
top of that!
It was a fairly exotic
looking beast way back when. Today it sort
of looks like a hokey version of a CB-1. I
stared in teenage awe at that magazine photo.
The performance figures were as impressive as the
machine was large. After all this time, I
can't remember exact numbers, but I do remember
that fourth gear was rated as able to pull 135
mph. The fifth gear had the exciting as
well as cryptic spec of 'Not Available.'
The bike did have a fifth gear, no one
had ever checked it out! Whether or not
that was just an example of sales bravado and
expert marketing, I don't know. It sure did
Friedl Munch stopped
making Mammoths by the eighties. They were
too expensive and not exactly a 'turn-key'
proposition for owners. This was a
thoroughbred that demanded attention, sort of
like an old Ferrari or Maserati (or Norton).
Regardless, Mr. Munch did lifetime machining and
such for owners of his machine. Sometime in
the mid-eighties a well-heeled Munch owner
requested a new machine from Munch. Many
transatlantic flights and calls produced a
machine that was to be delivered in 1992. And
you thought Harley made a prospective owner wait!
Price was not mentioned, the new owner was rich
enough to afford a hand-built machine.
Friedl Munch was no
longer a young man by anyone's standards (except
George Burns') and unfortunately suffered a
stroke before the machine was complete. He
did recover sufficiently to oversee the
completion of the project. Whether or not
the great man is still with us, I cannot say.
But this Mammoth is the last.
It is a true pity when
something unique comes to an end. There
will never again be a bike like the Mammoth. No
matter how unattainable it was, it was sort of
nice to know that somewhere they were being built
and that somewhere, someone was able to afford to
There are independent
concerns out there right at this very moment
building exotic, limited production machines.
There is a gentleman in England who has the
original blues and tooling and is creating brand
new Manx Nortons. Price: $45,000. A
bargain when compared to what a totally thrashed
Manx would cost to purchase and correctly
restore. Of course, this is a vintage bike,
not on the cutting edge. Want hi-tech?
OVER racing in Japan will build you a TDM powered
crotch rocket that is as state of the art as you
can get. If you have to ask, you can't
afford one. Britten of New Zealand will
knit -- and I do mean knit (lots of carbon fibre)
-- a bike for you that is more than capable of
winning the Daytona 200 let alone the twins
classes it has competed in. Once again,
we're talking major money. Heck, for 45
grand Harley will sell you a VR-1000 with enough
spares for a season. That is actually quite
By 2015 we may look at
the prices of these exotic bikes and say
"Gee, I wish I'd have bought TWO back then.
Wow, were they cheap! Just like that $4500
Dunstall Norton. Or that Munch which, by
the by, could be had for around five thousand
1975 dollars. Gee, I wish I'd bought TWO!
These toys of either
yesterday or today aren't really unattainable.
It is only that as the price goes up, the men are
weeded from the boys desire-wise. If your
life depended on it, you could manage to work
three jobs and come up with the money for a
Britten, an OVER or a Manx Norton clone. It's
just hard to rationalize the purchase when a
paltry 10 grand will have you jetting away on a
ZX-11. Isn't it nice to know that they're
out there though?
READ THE PRESS
LOW END Copyright
2003 Harry G. Pellegrin
God We Trust
LOW END By Harry George Pellegrin. The
first in the Gary Morrissey series of mysteries. Dealing
with modern subject matter in the classic style of the 1940's
Mystery Noire masters--think Raymond Chandler in New York in the
1980's... LOW END is the story of a drug addict who is
murdered after he believes he has found evidence of a major
government conspiracy. Is it only drug-induced paranoia?
Might be, except his paranoia could be considered justified: he
was murdered, after all. Friend Gary Morrissey takes it
upon himself to find out just what happened and lands himself in
See more info...
Classic Guitar Method Composed,
written, transcribed, edited and arranged by Harry G. Pellegrin: Now in one volume, much of what the novice classical guitarist will need to know to lead him or her to the recital stage. From proper instrument care and maintenance to the necessary technical skills, musical mind-set, and the standard repertoire—all exposed and explored with enough detail and insight that the student will wish to keep this book handy years to come as a ready reference source.
See more info...
DEEP END: The Wreck
of the Eddie Fitz By
Harry George Pellegrin. A mystery novel. Involving a
semi-professional musician and a Kreyol death cult, DEEP END
takes the reader from the bottom of Long Island Sound to the
steamy streets and Blues clubs of New Orleans. Alternative
spirituality does battle with the common working man. Published by
PAB Entertainment Group in association with LULU.com.
See more info...
Original Music by Harry G. Pellegrin:
Reflecting Pools is a departure for me
as it is totally keyboard. Well, the guitar did show up on one
"...Reflecting Pools is a notable first album [for
Mr. Pellegrin]. A dramatic sense of tonality and mood are
propelled by exemplary musicianship and exciting compositional
...And containing nine tracks that are relaxing, inspirational
-- sounds like a snooze. Not really, this is great stuff to
listen to on a rainy afternoon, while with your significant
other (nudge, nudge, know what I mean?)
Please visit the Reflecting Pools
page on this site or
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