A Ridiculous Proposition

Editor Backus adds another project to his fleet, but this one has more wheels than usual— the Rambler American.

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by Richard Backus

We’re deep into winter here in the Midwest, a stage in the annual cycle (no pun intended) of things where I typically find myself knuckling down on pressing two-wheeled projects to get them done by spring. “Pressing” being something of a generous term, because if I just wanted to go riding there are plenty of competent, modern machines I could buy to carry me with ease from wherever I am to wherever I desire to go.

Desire, of course, is the motivating force in old bike ownership, and clearly I enjoy the process of getting whatever bike I’m focused on up and going as much as I enjoy actually going down the road. It’s a trip of its own kind and something of a habit, as well, as the projects currently sitting in the hovel attest.

Occupying one lift is the companion to my 1983 Laverda RGS, the 1984 RGS that I finally got running last year, and that I swore I’d be riding in 2020. That was before I decided it needed some cosmetic attention. The bodywork is mostly perfect, but the frame, not so much, its surface bruised and battered, with budding corrosion showing through. It’s bad enough that I don’t want to leave it alone, and we know where that leads, because once the frame’s in good nick you can’t just hang the old parts back on; they have to be cleaned, freshened up and made worthy of their refurbished digs.

No surprise then that progress on the RGS has been slow, made worse by the distraction of the 1988 Ducati Paso I picked up (squirrel!), and hampered even more by the 1962 Rambler American 400 convertible I decided I “had” to have.

I am first and foremost a motorcycle guy, but I’d been thinking a convertible would be fun to have. But since I seem to equate convertibles with midlife crisis, whatever I got had to be free of that stench, so that meant something weird or old. That knocks out a slew of actually good cars, like the 2001 BMW 3 series convertible we had at the shop that my business partner, Marcos, beautifully prepped and sold just before Christmas. I seriously pondered a first-gen Miata, which are awesome little roadsters, but for whatever reason the tug wasn’t strong enough to make me act. So what, then?

Motorcycle Classics Magazine
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