Eye Candy: Six Lust-Worthy Lots from Mecum Las Vegas 2024

1957 Mondial Biabero 250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
An army of motorcycles
has descended on Las Vegas, certainly, the most impressive array of bikes we’ve laid eyes on in a while—and the best part is—they’re all for sale. Mecum’s 33rd Annual Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction features 2,000 motorcycles, and there’s dang near one of everything, from road racers to bobbers, and flat trackers to choppers.

While the auction is already underway, most of the big-ticket lots won’t cross the block until January 27. Feel free to comb through the 66 pages of lots yourself, but if you’re pressed for time, these are the six machines we’re lusting after.

1924 BMW R32 Mecum Las Vegas
1924 BMW R32 The 1923 R32 model was the first bike to wear the BMW badge, and it’s a machine that could teach a course on functional beauty. Utilitarian, but finely handcrafted in the details, the R32 is an impressive accomplishment for a brand that was still learning how to build motorcycles.

1924 BMW R32 Mecum Las Vegas
World War I and the Treaty of Versailles meant that BMW could no longer produce aircraft engines, and the company pivoted to industrial engines and equipment to stay afloat. Some of its flat-twin engines found their way into motorcycles, and after merging with BFw in 1922, BMW embarked on a clean-sheet design for its first motorcycle.

Unlike the BFw Helios, BMW’s designers realized the cooling benefits to be had by orienting the 494 cc engine longitudinally, and the boxer configuration remains a hallmark of the brand 100 years later. The R32’s shaft drive is another system that would stick with BMW for decades, and the bike also featured a recirculating wet-sump oiling system, which was uncommon for the time.

1924 BMW R32 Mecum Las Vegas
Lot F175 is an early second-year version of the R32 with a stunning restoration by marque specialist Hubert Fehrenbach. It’s fit with a number of über-rare parts, including a beautiful front wheel-driven speedometer and optional Bosch lighting package and horn. The rear brake is also a specialty item, consisting of two independent friction pads riding on a dummy rim, with one activated by a hand lever and the other by foot.

Presented in its beautifully restored state, this 1924 R32 highlights BMW Motorrad’s craftsmanship from its founding years, as well as the early aircraft influence in its construction. A star of the auction, Mecum estimates the bike will bring between $200,000 and $250,000.

1957 Mondial Biabero 250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
1957 Mondial 250 cc Bialbero Grand Prix After winning the three Grand Prix titles from 1949 to 1951, not to mention every 125 GP race they entered in those days, FB Mondial was hanging up GP racing—at least on paper. Talk about quitting while you’re ahead. While Mondial was reallocating assets into its road bike offerings, they hadn’t quit the game completely, and top-tier race machines could be had with the right credentials.

1957 Mondial Biabero 250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
Losing Carlo Ubbiali to MV Agusta, Tarquinio Provini joined the Mondial ranks, and the rivalry between the two riders would peak in 1957. They duked it out all through the season in the 125 class, with Provini on the new two-shaft Mondial 125, and Mondial won the tight points race for the championship.

More to the point, Mondial had developed a 250 cc GP racer alongside the 125, this one an all-new DOHC with a shaft-and-bevel drive for the cams. Shod in some of the most dramatic aero features of the day, the 250 sports an enclosed aluminum dustbin front fairing and tail section, and just seven 250 Bialberos were built in total.

1957 Mondial Biabero 250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
Stamped with engine No. 250-1, this bike is strongly believed to be the machine Provini raced in the 1957 Italian National Championship, and the bike he rode to second place in the 1957 Grand Prix World Championship in the 250 cc class. Speculation aside, the bike has been restored by some of Italy’s best and took Best of Show at the 2017 Quail Motorcycle Gathering.

Since it was Provini alone who piloted a bevel-gear 250 in 1957, this one is more-or-less watertight, and those credentials translate to dollars. Mecum expects this Mondial 250 Bialbero to bring $160,000 to $190,000.

1978 Yamaha TZ750 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
1978 Yamaha TZ750 ‘If it looks right, it flies right,’ goes the old aviation adage, and I cannot imagine anything looking more ‘right’ than this 1978 Yamaha TZ750. One of just 161 built, this TZ750 is an immaculate example of Yamaha’s dominant ’70s road racer.

1978 Yamaha TZ750 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
Born to challenge the three-cylinder 750s from Suzuki and Kawasaki, Yamaha’s 750 started out as a water-cooled 700 cc two-stroke, essentially two 350 twins put together with four pipes—good for more than 115 hp. The chassis was a traditional double cradle with standard suspension until the new ‘monocross’ rear was developed. By triangulating the rear arm and placing a single rear shock in a cantilever arrangement, maneuverability, stability and curb weight all were improved.

1978 Yamaha TZ750 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
By 1975, the TZ had grown to its full 750 cc displacement, and the competition was far in the dust. Yamaha’s TZ chalked up nine consecutive Daytona 200 wins from ’74 on and smashed lap records on all the fastest circuits. Not only did it change 750 cc road racing forever, but the TZ completely rewrote the book on sport bike design, noted as one of the five most influential motorcycle designs by journalist Kevin Cameron.

1978 Yamaha TZ750 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
This particular 1978 TZ750-E has somewhat of an interesting story, as reported by Mecum. Long story short, the bike was once raced by Steve McLaughlin until a conflict arose with his mechanic over compensation at Laguna Seca. When McLaughlin arrived for practice, the mechanic was gone, along with the bike and the transporter. Washing his hands of the ordeal, McLaughlin wrote the bike off and moved on to avoid paying the mechanic’s lien.

Some 20 years later, marque specialist Jeff Palhegyi was able to talk that same mechanic into selling the TZ, and a comprehensive restoration commenced. Perfect down to every nut, bolt and wire tie, this TZ750 is our hands-down pick of the litter. Convenient, that Mecum estimates its price to be a reasonable $45,000 to $50,000.

1975 Kawasaki KR250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
1975 Kawasaki KR250 Kawasaki was still playing catch up in 1975 after its relative absence from GP racing in the 1960s, but the KR250 was just the machine to put Team Green back on the map. Fit with a slew of Kawi skunkworks parts and raced by none other than Yvon Duhamel, it’s no surprise Mecum expects this KR to bring a big stack of greenbacks.

1975 Kawasaki KR250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
Development of the KR250 began in 1974 under Nagato Sato, who drafted a new tandem-twin design with one cylinder directly behind the other, with their cranks joined by gears. Slimmer, and allowing for asymmetrical inlet timing and better transfer porting, the new design showed great promise, but the KR didn’t really become the bike to beat until the late ’70s.

The new KRs made their debut at Daytona in 1975, where this machine was piloted by Yvon Duhamel. The results were not exceptional, as Duhamel retired early and his teammate Ron Pierce finished 13th, but let’s not forget that we’re talking about an all-new bike.

1975 Kawasaki KR250 Mecum Las Vegas 2024
Duhamel’s leathers aren’t the only interesting historical aspects included in Lot F125, as the bike is fit with many upgrades and works parts. Many of these are documented in The Kawasaki Story – Racing and Production Models from 1963 to Present Day, including the KR750 radiator, 12,000 rpm expansion chambers and single Monroe air shock.

Wearing a glossy restoration by Stephen Wright and fit with these priceless components, it’s no surprise that Mecum expects this Kawasaki KR250 to bring between $110,000 and $140,000.

Supercharged Vincent Land Speed Racer
1952 Vincent Land Speed Racer I understand this crusty old war horse isn’t exactly everyone’s definition of eye candy, but you need to hear me out on this one. This is a barn-find 1952 Vincent Black Shadow Series C that was extensively modified to run at Bonneville in the 1960s. Not cool enough for you? Fine, it’s also supercharged—bam.

Supercharged Vincent Land Speed Racer
Mecum is unclear as to who we owe for the existence of this wonderfully unholy creation, other than it was raced at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1969 by James Moore of Santa Cruz. They started by punching the 998 cc Vincent twin out to 1,046 cc, and then added a massive Zoller-type supercharger. More than half the size of the engine on its own, the massive huffer required the construction of a longer and lower subframe just to fit it on the bike.

Supercharged Vincent Land Speed Racer
The supercharger drive is straight out of Mad Max, as a second outboard primary chain with a tensioner sprocket is used to spin it—imagine the efficiency there—and the whole thing is shod in a crude steel shield. The rest of the bike is a mixture of cool era-correct speed parts, including a Lockhart rear disc brake and Brampton girders. All said and done, it’s a marvelous tribute to man’s quest for speed.

Mecum figures Lot F228.1 is worth between $45,000 and $60,000, and mentions the choice is yours to perfect it as is, or return it to stock. If your intentions are the latter, for the love of God, don’t let me find you.

1974 Harley-Davidson RR250
1974 Harley-Davidson RR250 Last, and possibly least as there’s no pre-auction estimate, is this stunning 1974 Harley-Davidson RR250. Mecum’s info is limited on the bike, but I just can’t pass up a good black and orange HD road racer.

1974 Harley-Davidson RR250
The bike was bought new by a flat track racer named John Basore, who reconfigured the machine for road racing after the AMA approved the model for blacktop. While it looks damn good from a distance, a closer inspection reveals bumps, bruises, touch-ups and tech-inspection stickers—that’s right, this thing is unrestored.

The bike has spent retirement in various museums and collections, and I think I have an opening in my living room where this would fit in nicely. [Mecum]

1974 Harley-Davidson RR250

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