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Upcoming Simeone Museum exhibit to highlight a century-plus of sporting motorcycles

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A circa-1927 BMW R42. Photo by Dawn Deppi, Eye of the Beholder Inc.

Each August, the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, plays host to a temporary exhibit focusing on two wheels instead of the usual four. Now in its ninth year, the 2017 motorcycle exhibit – curated by John Lawless and friends – will feature nearly 30 motorcycles representing Turn-of-the-Century Cycles (1888-1917), Interwar Elegance (1918-’40), and Postwar Imports (1946-’80).

Opening on August 19 and running until September 9, the show begins with a special screening of Take It to the Limit 2, the 1980 documentary produced by Peter Starr that features footage of Kenny Roberts winning the 1975 Indy Mile on his TZ700-powered dirt tracker; Russ Collins running the quarter-mile on Sorcerer, his 600-hp twin-engine drag bike; American Steve Baker racing Barry Sheene in Europe; Mike “The Bike” Hailwood riding the 37.75-mile Isle of Man TT course at speeds up to 190 mph; and Mike Bast winning his second National Speedway Championship. Starr will be on hand to discuss the film and sign autographs after the screening, which begins at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 19.

1896 Spiral

1896 Spiral. Photo courtesy Simeone Museum.

In the Turn-of the-Century category, motorcycles confirmed for display include an 1867 Roper Velocepide steam cycle replica, built and presented by William Eggers; an 1885 Daimler Reitwagen (Riding Car) replica, also built and presented by William Eggers; an 1896 Spiral, described as “the first complete combustion powered motorcycle manufactured in the United States,” presented by Steve Geiger; a 1912 Abingdon King Dick, presented by Jack Wells; a 1914 Indian Twin, the first motorcycle to use an electric starter, presented by John Melniczuk; and a 1916 Harley-Davidson JD, presented by Dave Minerva.

Interwar Elegance motorcycles include a 1921 Victoria KR1, powered by a BMW engine prior to the German automaker’s own entry into the motorcycle market; a 1925 BMW R39, said to be in original condition; a 1926 BMW R39; a 1928 Norton 19 (all four of the above presented by Christopher Aker); a 1929 BSA A7 with the only known-surviving Cox sidecar, presented by Dennis Gilligan; two 1929 BMW R57s, including an example stored since the 1930s, presented by Bob Henig; a 1932 BSA L32-5 Blue Star, presented by Mustafa Tehrani; a 1936 Norton Model 20, also presented by Mustafa Tehrani; a 1939 BSA Goldstar, presented by Kerry Grubb; and a 1939 Velocette KTT Mk. VIII, raced at the Isle of Man TT, presented by Maurice Candy.


BSA Gold Star. Photo by Dawn Deppi, Eye of the Beholder Inc.

Postwar Imports include a 1946 HRD Vincent Rapide Series B, one of 17 production examples built in 1946, presented by William Wiessman; a 1951 Vincent Black Shadow Series C, shown in “as discovered” condition and also presented by William Wiessman; a 1952 Vincent Black Lightning replica, presented by David Thompkins; a 1952 Ariel VHA, presented by Kerry Grubb; a 1970 Munch 4 1200TTS, powered by a 1.2-liter NSU automobile engine, presented by Klaus Heunecke; a 1975 Ducati R90S, presented by Michael O’Hare; a 1982 Ducati 900SS, presented by Lou Stellar; a 1983 Ducati TT2 race bike, presented by Lou Saif; a 1984 Ducati TT1 race bike, also presented by Lou Saif; a 1984 BMW R100RS, presented by Steven Moore; and a 1988 BMW R100GS, presented by Rich Nagy.

Tickets for the opening night screening of Take It to the Limit 2 are priced at $15 for members and $20 for non-members, and include movie-themed refreshments and soft drinks. Admission to the motorcycle exhibit is otherwise covered by a standard ticket; for more details, visit, or to purchase tickets to the opening night screening, visit