Von Dutch Falcone

Von Dutch motorcycle
I’m not convinced about the looks of this bike, but there’s no denying its place in motorcycling history. It’s a 1959 Moto Guzzi Falcone that was worked on by Kenny Howard—better known as Von Dutch. Howard was contracted by the owner, a guy called Richard H. Cormany, who bought the Von Dutch motorcycle secondhand in 1961 and rode it for a year before spending 5,000 hours customizing it.

Von Dutch motorcycle
To create a new look for the Falcone, Howard starting carving wood molds for the headlight nacelle and front fender. According to the sales blurb, “Small diameter dual headlights were decided upon, and each headlight has an individual on-off switch at the back of the nacelle. The headlights themselves are adjustable for elevation while in motion. The stock gas and oil tanks were retained, and the entire coachwork was painted gloss black by Von Dutch, with a signature fine gold pinstripe applied to define the contours of the custom bodywork.” The engine was rebuilt and given a cosmetic overhaul, and Von Dutch machine-turned the flywheel.

Von Dutch motorcycle
Cormany entered the Von Dutch motorcycle into the 1971 Cycle World Show, and won the Best Street Custom award, getting a two-page spread on the bike in the magazine. The write-up said: “Dick Cormany won the street-legal custom category with his 1959 Moto Guzzi Falcone, which is no surprise. The bike is strikingly original, departing from the mainstream of custom art to combine the complexity of the classic Guzzi 500cc single-cylinder engine and suspension components with a sleek, flowing fiberglass shell.”

[Thanks to Jaimie Muehlhausen.]

Von Dutch motorcycle
Von Dutch motorcycle
Von Dutch motorcycle

  • tq

    simply radical.

  • Tg


  • Zyonsdream

    That puts the “Fug” in Fugly

  • elven

    Looks like excellent workmanship… shame about the bodywork ;-)

    • iRivas

      I concur.

  • b.s.

    I call bullshit… Another “new undiscovered” Dutch custom…

  • Haywood J. Blomi

    “The stock gas and oil tanks were retained”. Good thing too, otherwise this thing would be ugly all over. Imagine wasting 5000 hours customising, stepping back to admire your creation and going: “D’oh!”

    Actually, studying it a bit longer, you have to admit that front fender is a powerful element of this design. Totally irrelevant and incongruous to the rest of the bike, that front fender succeeds in spoiling the whole thing. Put a half-decent front fender on it and you might have something…

  • Westofben

    Wooldoor Sockbat, is that you?!?

  • Teo

    Uhm…. looks like some sort of b-movie class bat-bike…

  • Mingh

    i’m not gonna call it gorgeous, but you gotta admire the originality in the styling. 40 years later it’s still a break from all the peanut-tanked-balloon-tyred-hardtails or checkered-flag-and-ace-cafe-stickered-cb-rustheaps-called-caff-racers.

  • Kerry

    If this is an original Von Dutch bike, and I have no reason to doubt that it is, I think it’s easy to look at it today and apply modern standards of evaluation to it. But back in the day this must have caused quite a sensation – both good and bad I suppose.

    Personally, I think it’s as much a piece of rolling history as anything else. Do I like it? Kind of, but I like what it must have done to the custom build scene at the time.

  • I can’t believe THIS is not a joke…

  • Eric H.

    The bike looks cool!! Different indeed! People…think of the time period. 60’s into the 70’s. Very radical departure for customs at the time. I like it!! Especially that its not the norm of the day.

  • vernon marsh

    I love it.

  • F1david

    The front fender doesn’t seem very aerodynamic.

  • FS

    ugh. what has been seen cannot be unseen.

  • Whatever

    I love custom work but this made me barf chunks!

    epic fail!

  • K1W1

    Hate it. Sorry that’s a fail and it should be put back to original.

  • Arnoux

    Nice fuel cap! …but that’s about all that does it for me.

  • NDAna

    Maybe great in the day but ugly as hell now!

  • Anonymous

    I saw this bike in Petersen’s Motorcycle Sport Quarterly fall 1971. Six page article, seventeen pictures. According to that article the owner and customizer was Dick Corman, there was no mention of Kenny Howard or Von Dutch.

    • Harry Farquhar

      I saw that same article in fact I might still have the issue kicking around somewhere.

  • Tony

    I’m somehow seeing Crow T. Robot from Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in that front fender.

  • Jkcallin

    It’s BS pure and simple. It states that wooden mold were carved, which sounds like fiberglass was used for the bodywork. Von Dutch was a metal smith and NEVER worked with glass. He hated the stuff and considered it beneath his dignity to take cheesy shortcuts. If someone had come to him with drawings for that contraption, he would have run him off

    • Jaimie H

      Sorry champ, but nearly all of Von Dutch’s custom work was done in ‘glass. Have a good ol’ google for Von Dutch show rods and you’ll find a wealth of info on the subject….. :)
      And the style of this bike follows the styling cues used in a lot of his other customs of the time.

  • Trelman

    Hard to call something “undiscovered” when it’s won shows and been in a magazine. The 5000 hours of work is a little hard to believe, but this is an important motorcycle. For someone as prolific as Von Dutch, it’s amazing how little of his work still exists. The paint jobs and pinstriping got redone; bikes and cars were crashed. Thank goodness the current owner kept the Guzzi just as it was. Put it back to original?! That would be the sin.

  • Collin Cortez

    Good lord. It’s so ugly it could be modern art.

  • peter bennett

    This would have to be the result of taking a lot of drugs by the creator and by the people who voted it the best street custom and I can believe it took 5000 hours to make something this ugly. First 10 hours of design concept, no not ugly enough, start again,. next 10 hours of design concept still not ugly enough start again, next 10 hours of design , still not ugly enough and then after 5000 hours of work, SUCCESS.

  • Rex Havoc

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha….

  • Anonymous

    I don’t get it – what was he thinking. That tail just does not make any sense. The front fender looks like it was made for something else.

  • Bruffsup

    Von Dutch took too much acid

  • flattwin

    And I thought a windjammer fairing was ugly…

  • scritch

    I’m convinced. It’s ugly.

  • Alexrphillips

    Von Dutch only painted it.

  • KIK

    It has happened before, a serious artist will make a monstrosity and pass it as art to see how many knuckleheads will fall for it,. Picasso did it all the time.and yes 40 years later people still fall for it.

  • Webbersite

    ghastly, looks like a perfectly good falcone with a MZ front end and the seat unit off a John Player Norton, what on EARTH was he thinking ! ?

  • Justin

    Reminds me of the art deco auto designs of the early 30s. It looks like it was made without any regard for what a motorcycle should look like. Lower the front fender and level it to the plane of the rest of the bike and it would look tighter. Ugly or not, I’d ride the hell out of it.

  • Mule

    This bike is stupid! We need to see more projects with 2-3 hours of work, dented tanks, asbestos wrapped pipes and flat black paint jobs! Can never get enough of those!

  • fiveiron

    When will Guzzi start making 500cc singles again to follow up the success of their retro V7?

  • edb

    I guess if Darth Vader were a classic italian motorcycle..

  • Malove

    Von Dutch was an artist guys with all the ”out of the box” thinking with all the drugs and everything else that comes in the package. Think it like a test project or something. ”TARA…. hm… you dont like hey? ok nvm next bike in the shop to apply the next idea… or acid vision…”
    And besides….. its like 50 years back… its like saying that the human figures in a cave done like 10.000 years ago dont have shit in front of the 3d animations of disney

    • Malove

      Plus check all the close up photos and tell which one does not look good….

    • Mule

      I think I understand what you’re saying and I agree! Von dutch is a caveman? Really I do understand and I do agree. This was done a long time ago and hot rods, airplanes, furniture, everything was different. The only people that had tatoos were sailors and Yakuza. It was a different world then and this bike is just a glimpse of it.

      • elven

        I was into the bike scene back in 1971 (I am that old!) and I just can’t recall admiring anything like this one.
        Apart from the “style” of the plastics, they are just overscaled for the rest of the bike; a bit like the big Vetter Windjammer fitted to a CB350.

        • Mule

          Yes, but you need to go back another 10 years before you were into it. Look at what was available in 1960-61. Personally, it wasn’t until 1962 that Schwinn even had a Stingray. Which I got for Christmas that year. Go back to that time and if I saw a motorcycle on the street, and there were lots in Daytona where we lived at the time, I would have no idea what brand or model it was. If I saw this Guzzi, I’d think it was from outter space or from some weird movie.

          I agree, the thing looks like its from the Bizarro world, just sayin’ when it was built, it was current and since the late 40’s everything has been changing at an exponential rate.

          Speaking of the 70’s, look at Fashions (Bell bottoms, sideburns) and music (Disco) and eveything else. Lot of weird stuff then too.

  • Scooter

    My favorite part of this bike is the front fender.

  • Looks a bit like a half-stripped Vincent Black Prince.
    Especially the front fender.

  • jHamilton

    What happened to the bike? It is no longer for sale on ebay was relisted then pulled again. Anyone know who bought it and the selling price?

  • That’s a beautiful piece of art and awesome creation. The vintages become more valuable with the touches given.

  • Justun1984

    One word sexy