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2013 Del Mar show

September 16, 2013


As long as there has been an old bike hobby, there have been old bike shows.  The Del Mar California location has a long history with races and shows, and the latest incarnation is called the Celebration of the Motorcycle.  That name may remind you of the Legends of the Motorcycle show that was held in Half Moon Bay for 3 glorious years.  The Del Mar team has done a great job to update their show, and if their goal is the Legends, then they are moving in the right direction.  The venue is much smaller, but there was a high quality of bikes present, and the judging team headed by Somer Hooker (with Legends and Pebble Beach ace Ed Gilberston on board) was to the same standard.  For example, bikes were docked 5 points from the 100 point scale if the owner failed to start them on cue.  It is a small item, but it highlights Hooker and Gilbertson’s enthusiasm for motorbikes as celebrated machines.  Note that they are not referred to as pieces of art…


I was volunteered to judge this year, and gladly took the opportunity to get a free breakfast and coffee.  It provided me with a great chance to study the earliest machines in detail and chat with the owners and fellow judges too.  All of the bikes were so nice, it really was a pleasure.  Regular readers will know my preference is to hear and see machines on the open road, but for this weekend I left my leathers at home and went down to the San Diego coast.dm4

This 1899 De Dion Bouton was an original 114 year old machine.  The owner has been riding it for about 30 years, and had a nice scar on his arm from an old accident!dm5



There were a lot of bikes at the show, including classics and more modern machines.  But our focus here is on the earliest ones, and here are some photos kindly taken by the missus:


Urban brought this New Era.  I think that he said that 4 or 5 of these bikes remain.  This one was restored 15+ years ago, and still looks very fresh.  Note the seat design, and this one is uniquely fitted with the NE passenger seat, handle and footpegs. 




Fluted glass like that fitted to some brass era cars.



Urban’s Hudson is one of just a few remaining examples.  It dates from 1910 and has an atmospheric intake valve breathing through the swan neck Brown and Barlow carb.


Jim Lattin brought several bikes, including this bright orange Merkel racer and the following Curtiss 4 cylinder.DM16DM17


Rotten Richard’s 1916 Militaire has a million little things to see.  Study the pics to spot the hub center steering details, wooden rims, shifter, frame, etc.  About a half dozen of these machines exist.  More pics of another of these rare bikes here.DM20



 DM23An 1890’s highwheeler and some of Jeff Decker’s sculpture.


Lattin also brought this sexy Cleveland racer.


The Pierce single was a crowd favorite.  It ran pretty well, popping and burping for the audience several times throughout the day.  The 600 single was a strong running bike of the era, and is more highly regarded than the Pierce 4’s by riders.DM26


Evidence of use and repairs.


Cannonball veteran Jon Szalay restored this Indian 8 valve this year, and it sparkles like jewelry.




Rider’s view of an unrestored FN single.

 Occhio Lungo

This early DDB motorbicycle also caught my eye.

Stay tuned.  I’ll post a few more articles on the Irish Rally soon, and also some pics from the Banbury Run and some photos from old pre1916 runs held in Hollister in the 1970s.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Doug Lyon permalink
    September 16, 2013 11:25 pm

    Wonderful stuff to be seen there and in such great detail – looking forward to the next instalment thanks for posting!

  2. September 16, 2013 11:26 pm

    oh my god those bikes lattin has……

  3. GWW permalink
    September 17, 2013 4:38 am

    Wow.. thank you..

  4. Chris Potempa permalink
    September 19, 2013 8:08 am

    Dang Pete, how could I have missed this? I’m in Palos Verdes and Del Mar is only a short drive from here. Oh well, we had the Palos Verdes Concours the same weekend though seeing ‘bikes would’ve been better. BTW, I enjoy your blog’s focus on the technical. Your early postings on magnetos went some ways to revive my interest in the same. I’m now waiting on a coil winder from China and working on plans to build a magnetizer. Cheers.

    • September 19, 2013 9:26 am

      Hi Chris, It would have been great to see you. It was a last minute trip for us, and hectic as ever! But a fun time. I think that the dinner at the hotel the night before was the highlight of the weekend… 🙂

  5. Clyde Williams permalink
    October 29, 2013 9:18 am

    Xlnt 2013 event photos & Thank you for posting them. Larry Feece did a great job that day with all of his collection, not to mention the awards he won !

    Clyde Williams
    El Cajon, Ca.

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