1957 Ex-Mike Hailwood 250cc Mondial
It used to belong to Stan Hailwood, father of Mike the Bike. That's its greatest claim to fame. This 1957 F.B. Mondial 250cc Bialbero GP racer will be offered for sale by Bonhams on Thursday 8th January 2015 at Bally's Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, USA. The estimate is $100,000 - $130,000 (£64,000 - £83,000). The lot number is 154.
In the late 1950s/early 1960s, Stan Hailwood was the managing director of the Kings Motors Group in Oxford. He bought the bike from Grand Prix privateer Arthur Wheeler. Wheeler, we understand, hadn't had much luck with the machine, and so he unloaded it to Hailwood's Ecurie Sportive outfit.
Not that the Mondial hadn't had its share of victory. It had previously been one of the bikes which—with Tarquinio Provini, Cecil Sandford and Sammy Miller propping up the bars—took first, second and third place at the Dutch TT Assen.
Stan Hailwood had acquired another 250cc Mondial, this one from French privateer Benjamin Savoie, and with the two bikes in hand, the Hailwoods entered the 1959 250cc British Championships.
Mike Hailwood did well on the little Italian quarter-litre missile and took second place in the Ulster GP. That gave him his fifth place in the 250cc World Championship, and he won the British Championship easily. But for the 1960 race season, he retained the Mondials only as a back-up for his favoured "factory" Ducatis.
So what's the Mondial back story?
F.B. Mondial, more commonly referred to simply as "Mondial" began life in Bologna, Italy in 1948.
The company was founded by the Boselli family, hence the F.B. initials; Frateli Boselli, or Brothers Boselli.
Their mission plan was straightforward. Produce a state-of-the-art Grand Prix motorcycle capable of taking on the likes of MV and Morini which, at that time, were the dominating forces on the Italian racing scene.
The Boselli brothers had in fact been involved in various forms of transport engineering since the 1920s. Motorcycle racing was a new distraction and one that they hoped would give them the "street cred" (to use the vernacular) that they desired. They were inexperienced with racing bikes, but not naive or stupid, and the family was determined to succeed.
Their motorcycles were highly sophisticated projectiles, and far more complex than their rivals. Their thinking was sound, and the manufacturing ethos was to stay small and focus on high quality production rather than high volume sales.
The company's fortunes waned in 1960s when their final "all in house" bike was manufactured. After that, the firm bought engines from other companies, and they continued in that manner until 1979.
There were partial revivals, notably in 1992, and a lot of money was thrown at the brand. But nothing significant came of it.
The F.B. Mondial 250cc Bialbero Grand Prix racer
The 250cc over-square, air-cooled single featured a 75mm x 56.4mm bore and stroke. The name "Bialbero" is Italian for twin-cam. A five-gear train takes the cam drive up the right side of the engine to another five-gear train spread across the cylinder head. Vernier cams are deployed to make those crucial minute adjustments. A 10.5:1 cylinder compression gives the engine some stomp. And a 32mm (or for tight tracks, 30mm) Dell'Orto SS1 remote float carburettor is fitted to supply the juice.
Other features include a steel con-rod, needle roller big ends, a two-way oil pump, and a 5- or 7-speed gearbox. The primary drive is by gear. The clutch is wet multi-plate.
With the engine housed in a twin-loop frame, the weight is just 220lbs. The power is said to be 29bhp @ 10,800rpm.
When Mike Hailwood switched to Honda in 1961, the Mondial was surplus to requirements. It was sold to Manchester bike dealer, Reg Dearden. During its later tenure with bike journo Alan Cathcart, the engine was rebuilt and the motorcycle made a parade lap of the Isle of Man TT course. That was 1983.
Soon after, a hairline crack developed in the engine case. It was repaired (welded), but the Mondial was now considered too "fragile", so the bike retired from racing. It was sold in 1983, and that pretty much brings the story up to date.
Bonhams's estimate looks a little optimistic in view of this bike's limited track record. Yes, it's got some interesting provenance, but it doesn't add an extra beat to anyone's heart around here at Sump.
Nevertheless, you've got to admire those Italians. They take motorcycling as seriously as they take opera, and this one will certainly hit the right notes with a lot of potential buyers. Bonhams usually gets its estimates right.
— Girl Happy
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