Bikes of a Feather: The 2012 Quail Motorcycle Gathering impresses
Quail Lodge goes it alone, without a Bonhams auction, and Gordon McCall’s fourth annual motorcycle concours d’elegance could be the best on the West Coast
Gordon McCall’s fourth annual classic motorcycle show — The Quail Motorcycle Gathering — was a solo tour de force this year. Held on May 4-5 at The Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel, Calif., it surprised all doubters.
In previous years, the show shared the day with a Bonhams auction, a carry-over from the windy Legend of the Motorcycle event, held in Half Moon Bay. This year, the concours was perhaps the better for going it alone; there was no need to rush the show to start the auction.
Contrary to the typical old motorcycle gathering, with grumpy old codgers straight from their grimy garages, McCall staged a stylish, family-friendly, first-class event. He has refined the concept into what might the best of its type on the West Coast.
So what exactly do you get for your trouble and hard-earned money? Friday featured a CHP-escorted ride down iconic Pacific Coast Highway and a catered lunch, followed by a few parade/sporting/racing laps on Laguna Seca Raceway. That was followed by dinner with some notable motorcycle legends (Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, etc.) that evening.
On Saturday, McCall arranged for what proved to be a stunningly beautiful day. He and most-able historian/collector Paul d’Orleans shared the emcee duties. Many private collections were featured, including notably Gary Kohs’ corral of MV Agustas, which will be sold at Mecum’s Monterey auction in August. The factory racing 1953/4 DOHC Bialbero 125 was easily the highlight out of the 71 bikes to be sold in August, reportedly as a single lot.
Local legend Craig Vetter held his annual mileage challenge, won (once again) by Fred Hayes on his Kawasaki 650-based diesel streamlined motorcycle. Fred managed 109 mpg, which certainly sets the bar for next year.
As in the past, Ducati had a large presence on the field. If you needed a new seat for your Giro tiddler back home, you could go visit the Corbin folks. Have a Harley dirt tracker? Mert Lawill could tend to your needs personally.
Best of show this year was Simon Graham’s immaculate 1974 MV Agusta 750s America. Best European was John Goldman’s all original 1957 Mondial café racer. Fancy restoring a BSA Goldstar? Gene Brown brought his NOS 1961 Clubman for your reference. If only dirt bikes swing you, the first Bultaco engine Metisse was a neat little bike. Maybe the one and only Bub Bonneville record-setter would set your heart racing?
Amply talented mad men held court, too. The impressive Crocker “continuation” was there to behold as was a super-sparkly Indian bobber custom, which was claimed to have been completed in only 90 days.
If you have seen any of Shinya Kimura’s previous creations, you’d already suspect what his personal rider would be like (see Cycle World, Feb. 2010). Think of the coolest, nastiest MV Agusta 750 of your dreams, and you’d be close. Giovanni Magni personally escorted the latest, gorgeous Magni creation to the Quail. This beauty/beast houses a 90+hp, 930cc BSA triple engine by California specialist Triple Tecs.
Three of Dan Gurney’s alligators were present, almost on their home turf, including the latest in naked state, with an S&S based V-twin engine.
The inaugural Sales Corral featured a handsome and correct Velocette Thruxton, an Indian Four side-car rig, and even the serial no. 001 EBR 1125 Buell racer.
With its gorgeous venue, great live music, the best catered BBQ lunch yet, terrific roads to ride your bike to or from the event, stunning weather, and a tremendous variety of excellent motorcycles, the Quail show took itself another level.