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May 30th 2007

Carlo Ubbiali was a legendary racer who won nine World Championships in the 125 cc (6) and 250 cc (3) classes. He rode this 125 Mondial Bialbero to his first championship in 1951.

Story and photos by Brandes Elitch

Scroll down for photo gallery

It’s such a powerful idea, you wonder why nobody thought of it before. The organizers of this show, Jared Zaugg and Brooke Roner, were fortunate enough to attend the original Guggenheim motorcycle exhibition in New York City, and sometime thereafter visited the annual Pebble Beach Concours, held each August in Monterey. Why not combine the two ideas: a “Pebble Beach of the Motorcycle?” Last year was the first show, and it was a success right out the gate. This year, the featured bikes were Vincent and Excelsior and Henderson. We will have to wait until next May for an Italian bike feature: MV Agusta (and Norton, yes, not Italian, but pretty exciting nonetheless). Out of the 300 bikes shown this year, only about ten percent were Italian. However, judging from the fantastic turnout of Vincents this year (and Brough Superior’s last year) I am confident that when an Italian bike is featured, it will be worth traveling a long distance to see! This year, there were entrants from all over the US, and even Europe, so the word is getting out!

The show is held on a stretch of lawn adjacent to the Ritz Carlton hotel in Half Moon Bay, right on the Pacific Ocean about 30 minutes south of San Francisco. This is a pretty elegant setting, although the rooms might not be quite as pricey as their Pebble Beach counterpart. The show is right-sized now, in terms of the number of bikes and the number of spectators. Pebble Beach has become so crowded that unless you are one of the exalted, you will park in Pacific Grove and endure a half hour bus ride to the Polo Fields, whereupon you walk another twenty minutes to actually get to the cars. Thus the charm of this show: you can walk from the entrance to the show field in five minutes, and there are no crowds – not yet, at least. And – you can get right up to the bikes and talk to the owners – not always possible at Pebble Beach, as the owners are usually in a state of High Anxiety about the impending arrival of the judges. Speaking of judges, while you would think that judging a motorcycle would be a much more relaxed affair than an automobile, the lineup of judges here was pretty impressive. There were 32 judges, covering 16 judging classes, and a further 8 industry and honorary judges. A more distinguished group would be hard to find, in the bike world at least.

This year, the lineup of Italian bikes included the following nameplates: Aermacchi, Benelli, Ducati, Laverda, Mondial, Moto Guzzi, MV, Rumi, and Vespa. Some pretty impressive bikes, but if truth be told, the real star was of course the featured marque: Vincent, and its various derivatives. This is not to underestimate the other feature: the Excelsior and its companion Henderson. However, the original owners of these bikes departed for points northward many decades ago, and unless you were around in the 1920’s, or wish you were, it was more of an historic choice rather than a popular one, but this is what makes this show so appealing.

A surprising number of motorcycles have survived, and some in their original state, because it is a lot easier to store a motorcycle than a car, and if you are a true collector, you will recognize the ultimate truth that it is all about the storage. You can always find room in the garage, basement, attic, or shed for a motorcycle, and just throw a tarp over it. There are a lot fewer things to restore on a bike than on a car, particularly a big luxury car of the 1930’s. Seeing this show, and listening to the owners tell their story about how they found their dream bike, makes you wonder if there is another one out there, hidden away, with your name on it! This show helps you dream about that – and that is pretty special, when you think about it.

Mark your calendar for the show next year: May 3, 2008. The call for entries will go out next month. If you have an MV Agusta squirreled away, you can check it out at: And another thing: it is a lot easier to trailer your bike down the steep twisties leading into Half Moon Bay than it is a car! Or, in the alternative, you could actually ride it in, which I saw a number of entrants doing. And that is not something that you would see at Pebble Beach!

1958 Laverda 100 Sport Lusso.

1974 Laverda 3C.

1975 Laverda SFC.

1969 Ital Jet 50 Vampiro.

1956 Benelli 125 Leoncino.

1956 Motobi 175 Catria.

Another view of the 1956 Motobi.


1959 Rumi Turismo.

1951 Mondial Bilabero Grand Prix

1967 600 MV Agusta.

1959 MV Agusta dohc 125.

MV Agusta.

1955 175cc Corsa MV Agusta.

2005 F4 1000 MV Agusta.

Moto Guzzi 850 T with aftermarket sidecar.

1929 Henderson Little Mystery car.

1915 Harley Davidson Baby Cup Race Car.

Past Issues



Shell Historics at Moroso

CCCA Tour Part I

Classic Adelaide 2007

Mugello 2007 Part 2

Malta Vintage GP

Mugello 2007

This is Hershey

Coppa d'Oro 2007

Pebble Beach Tour

Carmel Concours

Oldtimer sideshows at the Ring

35th Oldtimer GP Nurburgring

Ferrari Concours in Maranello

Sestriere Rally 2007

Turin Concorso

Ferrari Days GB

Greenwich Concours

Mille Miglia 2007

Italian bikes at Half Moon Bay

Shell Historics at VIR

Italian Auto Moto Festival

Alfa Day GB

California Mille

Villa d'Este 2007 part II

Villa d'Este 2007 part I

Shell Historics at Infineon

Geneva take Two

Geneva take One

Paris Pot Pourri

Retro Italia 2007

Paris and Retro 2007

Cavallino 2007

Shell Historics, Moroso 2007

Detroit 2007


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