The custom industry has always attracted larger-than-life characters. But Italy seems to attract more characters than most. As well as the perennial joker Mr Martini and industry veteran Roberto Totti, we now have the young guns at Anvil Motociclette.
Alessandro ‘Phonz’ Fontanesi and Marco Filios look like they’ve stepped out of the pages of Italian Vogue, and there’s a heavy fashion slant to their line of moto apparel. But they’ve knocked la palla out of the park with their latest build, called ‘Revenge.’
For this we can thank the Italian TV channel Sky Uno, which is promoting the custom scene with a series called ‘Lord Of The Bikes.’ It pits top Italian builders against each other, and gives them a mere 15 days to transform a current model Moto Guzzi.
As you’d expect, there are some hits and misses. The constraints of fast-paced filming and the need to follow a set theme have very obviously tied some builders in knots.
But it looks like Phonz and Marco thrive under pressure. After nailing a Quentin Tarantino themed build-off with a rigid-framed bobber—complete with shotgun and machete—they’re into the finals of the show with this classy sidecar combo.
This time, the brief was to create a ‘Gentleman’s Ride’—an elegant and noble motorcycle, worthy of a well-dressed gentleman with a taste for yesteryear style.
Anvil’s own style is raw and dark: their bikes are notably devoid of any color. So this custom V9 hits the target with a vibe that’s more Dark Knight than Victorian dandy.
Just to make things a little harder, when the V9 rolled into Anvil’s Milan workshop, the model was so new the boys had never seen one before—let alone familiarized themselves with the technical details.
They decided to look to the past for inspiration. “We chose one of the most important models from Mandello, the V7 Special that became the Ambassador for the American market,” they tell us.
The Ambassador is truly a motorcycle for a gentleman: our older readers may recall Sean Connery riding one in the James Bond movie Diamonds Are Forever.
The other critical decision was made just ten minutes after the V9 arrived. In a corner of the Anvil workshop was an old sidecar, recently imported from Moldova.
“It was the classic type you usually see mounted on a Ural or BMW, and dilapidated. So much dilapidated, one side had a bullet hole!”
Seeing literally hundreds of custom bikes every month leaves us a little jaded at times, but this is one build that would be right at home in the New Zealand headquarters of EXIF.
Aside from being able to carry a passenger or cargo with ease on a machine with 21st century technology, it looks like the kind of bike that would rattle down a dirt road without breaking a sweat.
To accentuate the vintage style, we have US-spec Norton Commando bars and a Lucas headlight. The tank, as voluptuous as Gina Lollobrigida, is actually from a late 1960s BSA Spitfire.
The rear frame has been discreetly narrowed, and a vintage saddle-style seat is wedged up against a 1940s Harley-Davidson fender.
Discreet covers hide the V9’s modern forks, and the vintage-style shocks have been custom-built by Bitubo to Anvil’s specification. The tires look classic too, but are modern Excelsiors—a Coker line that emulates the patterns of 1950s car tires.
The exhaust system is equally deceptive. The contemporary headers now flow into simple mufflers and tail pipes—which happen to be titanium, and custom-made by Officine Zard.
The sidecar has been overhauled, fitted with a new axle and a new 17-inch wheel, and lined with oak veneer. There’s now an attachment for a removable picnic basket, which is apparently stocked with vintage cutlery and dishware, plus fine whisky.
And, of course, since this is an Anvil bike, everything has been painted black—right down to the matt finish on the engine.
Granted, this machine probably isn’t going to outlast a 2WD Ural heading down the infamous Road Of Bones in Russia’s far east.
But for a gentleman desiring a capable and stylish sidecar outfit, it ticks all the boxes. And leaves us wondering if Moto Guzzi has ever considered adding three-wheelers to its range…