Most of us can only dream of owning a classic superbike and it’s difficult to imagine being able to get within touching distance of one of these high-tech feats of engineering. There are a plethora of rarer models which regularly change hands at auctions for eye-watering sums of money and enthusiasts are always on the look-out for an opportunity to add to their extensive collections. We take a look at some of the rarer models which are currently believed to be in single-figures and those one-off bikes which have never been replicated.
Harley Davidson Cosmic Starship
Harley Davidson are one of the best-known motorcycle manufacturers in the world and the iconic brand have produced a number of rarities over the years but artist Jack Armstrong’s “Cosmic Starship” is a one-off and has fetched upwards of $1,000,000 at a recent auction. It was unveiled back in 2010 and featured the artist’s unique painting style. It was described as being “more American than ice cream” and Armstrong told the media that “Andy Warhol would have loved it”. It had its own launch event in Los Angeles back in 2010 and required over 37 coats of paint in order to achieve its unique and stylish finish. It is now back on the market at $US10m.
Ferarri 900 CC
Back in 1990, David Kay, a British designer of some repute decided to team up with the Modena company after receiving official permission from the firm. He went on to handcraft the only Ferrari superbike in history, to date. The Italian giants have never attempted to replicate this one-off creation and it took around four years and 3,000 hours of hard graft to finish. The bike can boast a four-cylinder, 900cc engine, which produces 105bhp and has a five-speed gearbox.
The bike boasts Ferrari’s iconic red livery with the bodywork clearly referencing classic Italian design. The company decided against replicating the Ferrari 900 CC and are now probably best known for their success in Formula 1, with Sebastian Vettel flying the flag for them in recent years. The German driver finished behind Lewis Hamilton in the 2018 standings but will be determined to turn the tables on the Brit next year and as of November 26th 2018, he’s 3/1 to win the 2019 Drivers Championship with Betway. His fierce rival was signed-up to help design a one-off superbike last year, with MV Augusta announcing that the five-time champion and brand-ambassador will come on board to help them release another rarity.
The Lotus C-01 is relatively common compared to the Ferrari 900 CC but only 100 of these eye-catching mean machines left the factory and only those who have a spare $130,000 lying around will be able to afford one of these beauties. It was inspired by the Lotus 49 Formula One car and is extremely light compared to the average superbike. It certainly stands out from the crowd and creates a bold statement. It has a 75 degree V-Twin engine, a titanium body and an incredibly unconventional wheel-base. The Lotus C-01 is still relatively new but despite only being released in 2014, it’s incredibly difficult and costly to get your hands on one of these fantastic machines.
Lamborghini Design 90
Another Italian company who dabbled in superbike production was Lamborghini, who decided to release the iconic Design 90 back in 1989. Only six of these models left the conveyor belt with the company acknowledging that their experiment had been a largely unsuccessful one. These prototypes were originally designed to resemble the V12 Supercar but the bike failed to capture the imagination of the public and future production plans were called off soon after its release. Fitted with a 100cc Kawasaki engine, this model is certainly unique but they are now largely kept in storage by their collectors. Earlier this year, one of the six Design 90s was sent to auction but it failed to meet the reserve price.
Series C Vincent Black Lightning
It may be Jay Leno’s favourite, but the Vincent Black Lightning has become an incredibly prized possession over the last decade. A new world record price for a motorcycle was set in the US earlier this year when an ultra-rare Black Lightning sold for just shy of $1,000,000. The bike was a lightweight version of the Black Shadow and with just 33 of these built, their numbers are dwindling whilst their value is increasing. Around 19 of these atypical and irregular racing bikes, built by Tony MacAlpine and first manufactured back in 1948, are believed to still be circulation. The bike that recently sold at the auction was believed to be one of the later models, dating back to 1951, and these incredibly rare specimens are quite the sought-after commodity.
Superbike fans could be forgiven for salivating at the thought of owning one of these rare and lesser-spotted stunners. There are many more examples of models which were quickly taken out of circulation or were produced as one-off prototypes, the likes of which are incredibly unlikely to ever be manufactured again.