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2012 The Quail Motorcycle Gathering: Field Report

by Richard Backus

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1974 MV Agusta 750S 
Best of Show: Simon Graham's 1974 MV Agusta 750S.

Marty Dickerson’s Bonneville record-holding 1948 Vincent Rapide, aka “The Blue Bike.” Arturo and Giovanni Magni’s first-ever Brit-powered special, the Magni Rocket 3. Gene Brown’s 1-mile, completely original 1961 BSA Gold Star. Jim Bush’s Brutale 750-powered Magni-styled retro replica. These were just a few of the incredible machines that greeted motorcycle aficionados at the 2012 The Quail Motorcycle Gathering.

And what a gathering it was. Thanks to a perfect combination of fantastic motorcycles, clear-blue skies and the luxurious surroundings that are the Quail Lodge Golf Club in tony Carmel, Calif., the fourth annual The Quail Motorcycle Gathering was an unqualified success. Some 1,500 motorcycle enthusiasts took the opportunity to indulge themselves in their favorite passion, strolling around the lush Quail Lodge grounds while examining the 250 bikes on display.

Magni Rocket 3 
Left to right: Giovanni Magni, Jerry Liggett and Brent Lenehan stand with their creation, the Magni Rocket 3, at its Quail unveiling. 

Personal favorites included: Simon Graham’s Best of Show-winning 1974 MV Agusta 750S, a bike he actually rides; a 1914 Feilbach Limited (one of only a handful in existence); Jim Bush’s Magni Classic Race Replica, a bike so perfect looking you had to look twice before you realized it’s not something MV – or Magni – ever built; and Jan Wenneberg’s faultless 1954 Nimbus, which for some reason he actually let me ride. Fabulous.

Jim Bush's Magni Classic Race Replica 
Jim Bush's Brutale-powered Magni Classic Race Replica. The inspiration is obvious, the execution fantastic. 

This was my first visit to the Quail, which launched in 2009 to fill the void left when a tanking economy forced Jared Zaugg to cancel his foundation-setting Legend of the Motorcycle event held in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Three years in the running, LOM arguably set the stage for the current flock of high-level motorcycle shows, and was instrumental in raising the profile of the vintage motorcycle scene. Frankly, had it not been for Zaugg and LOM, I doubt the Quail event would exist.

Gene Brown and 1947 Indian Chief 
American 1st Place: Gene Brown on his 1947 Indian Chief. Gene also took first in European with his 1-mile 1961 BSA Gold Star. 

Fortunately, it does, and it’s rapidly becoming a must-attend on the vintage bike calendar. At $65 it’s not exactly cheap, but the lunch was absolutely fantastic and probably worth almost half the entry fee, and the espresso at the Ducati tent was perfectly brewed and served in real demitasse cups. Elegance has its place.

1940 Zundapp KS600 
One of my favorites: Michal Wojtowicz's 1940 Zundapp KS600 is a rider; I saw him on it later pulling into Alice's Restaurant on Skyline Drive. 

And of course the bikes were killer. While there were a few that seemed out of place, like a somewhat ratty caféd CB750, a CB350 Four with aftermarket 4-into-1 pipes and some specials that, well, just didn’t seem very special, the overall quality of entrants was excellent. The 2013 event will be scheduled soon and should fall in the same time frame, which would be May 4. Whenever it is, don’t miss it. It’s fabulous.

Richard Backus and 1954 Nimbus 
Jan Wenneberg let me ride his perfect 1954 Nimbus. I think my smile says it all.