A successful sports motorcycle from France and the first “100 Mile Racer” from BMW shared the most prestigious awards bestowed on historic two-wheelers during the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2019. As this year’s Concorso di Motociclette came to a close, the eight-strong Jury of experts headed by its President François-Marie Dumas conferred the title “Best of Show” on the Koehler-Escoffier and presented the Trofeo BMW Group to owner Dominique Buisson from France.
The machine was built in France, originates from the year 1929 and is a perfect fit with this year’s event motto “The Symphony of Engines – 90 Years of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este & BMW Automobiles”. The Trofeo Villa Erba is conferred by Public Referendum and this year the award was bestowed on the BMW R68 owned by Hans Keckeisen from Germany. The victor ludorum of the motorcycle contest is powered by a V-twin engine with a capacity of 980 cubic centimetres and represents the short but spectacular heyday of the Koehler-Escoffier marque in motorcycle racing. In particular, the V-twin versions of the French manufacturer created a sensation in the 1920s with racing victories and lap records. However, successes on the race track were not reflected in sales figures. In 1957, the marque disappeared from the marketplace.
The successful classic motorcycle at the Concorso di Motociclette has been in family ownership for a long time. Dominique Buisson received the motorcycle from his father some ten years ago. “We completely rebuilt the machine,” he reported after being presented with the Trofeo BMW Group, which came completely unexpected to him. “This is the first time I have entered a concorso, and I’m surprised and naturally delighted to have won against such a strong field of competitors.” The endeavour to achieve power and pace also defines the character of the BMW R 68, which was voted as the visitors’ favourite in the Public Referendum held in the grounds of Villa Erba. The model powered by a twin-cylinder Boxer engine was built in 1953 and was regarded as one of the most exclusive and most expensive motorcycles of that era.
With a top speed of more than 160 km/h or 100 mph, it earned the cachet of being the first official “100 Mile Racer” of the marque manufactured in volume production. This represents another milestone in the success story of BMW Motorrad. The Kawasaki Mach III, built in 1969 and owned by Sofie Verheyden also created a wave of enthusiasm among the spectators and the Jury. The entrant from Belgium was the only woman to take part in the Concorso di Motociclette 2019 – and achieved class victory in the category “50 Years ago – Trendsetters for future success” with her newly restored three-cylinder bike. “Colleagues of mine discovered the bike in the USA in rather a piteous state. We then set to and completely rebuilt it,” reported Sofie Verheyden.
The effort really paid off. Since 2011, the Concorso di Motociclette has been part of the programme of the world’s most exclusive and traditional heritage beauty contest for historic vehicles. The outstanding rarities from various eras of motorcycle manufacture taking part this year made a magnificent polyphonic contribution to the “Symphony of Engines” highlighted in the event motto of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The Street Run of competition entrants held on Saturday demonstrated the extent to which the acoustic charms of Historic Motorcycles captivated spectators alongside their visual appeal. This was evident from the participants and bystanders lining the streets of Cernobbio who defied some very heavy showers to watch the motorcycles passing through the streets of Cernobbio on the Street Run from Villa Erba to Villa d’Este. A total of 33 rare gems on two wheels took part in the contest in five award classes for Historic Motorcycles.