The Size of The Toys.

Separate the boys from the men.

 




A Collection of Articles from the Archives of

Harry G. Pellegrin

Novelist and Musician






 

Read on, my man!


Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx



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On 'Toys'

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 impress me.

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 buy one.

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 a bargain.

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?

 

Harry G. Pellegrin

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LOW END Copyright 2003 Harry G. Pellegrin

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  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 the crosshairs.
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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.
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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.
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Reflecting Pools    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 track...

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