Art of the Automobile

21 November 2013

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Lot 108

1957 F.B. Mondial 250 Bialbero Grand Prix

  • Engine no. 002

Sold for $143,000

  • A champion on two wheels
  • The 1957 World Champion motorcycle
  • The finest in post-war motorcycle design, displaying speed, beauty, and ingenuity
  • Ridden by World Champion Cecil Sandford

World War II was over. As the smoke faded and the shattering roar of bombs quieted, Europe turned its mind to recovery. However, the competition spirit was starting to roar again. Now, fighting would occur on racing circuits, with cars and motorbikes drawing crowds to the courses. This resurgence of spirit continued well into the 1950s. While motorsports are inherently dangerous, this was a time of extremes. Engines were getting more powerful, machines were faster and faster, and ingenuity was at the forefront of competition.

While motor car racing was at the height of its Golden Era, motorcycle grand prix racing also provided a thrilling distraction from rebuilding war-torn lives. On two wheels, the likes of Moto Guzzi, MV Agusta, Gilera, and Norton were battling for the title in the larger 350- and 500-cubic centimeter classes; these were piloted by daredevils that were willing to risk it all for fame and glory. However, for much of that time, in the smaller capacity 125 and 250 classes, F.B. Mondial reigned supreme.

Fratelli Boselli, or the Boselli Brothers, of Ancarano, Italy, was established before the war by Giuseppe Boselli and his three brothers. The firm produced tricars up until 1939, and while their premises were destroyed by bombing during the war, they rose from the ashes with typical Italian determination. With the help of Alfonso Drusiani, they designed a very modern bike with an OHC timing gear and dry-sump lubrication. It was eventually developed into a DOHC version, the Mondial, which won its first outing at the Monza Grand Prix in 1948.

The following year brought the inaugural Grand Prix World Championship series. From the onset, Mondial absolutely dominated the 125-cubic centimeter class, winning back-to-back-to-back championships. So dominant, in fact, that they won every race in which they competed.

In 1956, a new 250-cubic centimeter DOHC engine was developed, with the help of Drusiani, who had returned to the company after a brief absence. His return was a godsend, as Tarquinio Provini, Cecil Sandford, and Sammy Miller won the 125 and 250 World Championships for the boutique Italian marque.

The hair-raising 1957 season began at Hockenheim, where Sandford finished an impressive 3rd overall. Following the German GP, the season moved to the venerable Isle of Man for the Tourist Trophy races. Sandford took his first checkered flag for the year, while Provini lead the way in the 125 class. Provini would prove the hero at the GP of Holland, as Sandford finished 2nd to his teammate. Sandford continued his run with a 2nd place finish at Spa, a 3rd overall at the Belgium GP, and another victory at the GP of Ulster in Belfast. Not to be outdone, Provini would take the lead at Monza, while Sandford finished a respectable 4th.

After the dust settled, F.B. Mondial had won four out of six 250 events that year, with two of them being won with Cecil Sandford at the controls. After a grueling battle across the continent, Sandford was crowned 250 World Champion, with his teammates Provini and Miller as the runners-up. Though, it should also be noted that Provini absolutely dominated the 125 class, with three wins and his own World Championship title.

With F.B. Mondial withdrawing from racing after the 1957 season, these would be the last World Championships that the Fratelli Boselli Mondial Motorcycle Company would lay claim to. The end of the 1957 season also brought about the end of the Golden Age of motor racing, be it on four wheels or two. Most Italian marques, including F.B Mondial, Moto Guzzi, Gilera, and MV Augusta, agreed to stop competitive racing, citing escalating costs and dwindling sales (though MV Agusta would ultimately decide against withdrawing).

The bike offered here is one of three 250-cubic centimeter Works bikes that were campaigned by F.B. Mondial for their final season. It is strongly believed to be the one Cecil Sandford, and eventually Tarquinio Provini, expertly piloted to such success.

Offered with its beautiful “dustbin” fairing, this historic F.B. Mondial is in stunning condition. While mechanically impressive with its bodywork removed, this 250 legend has an undeniable presence with its fairings on. The silver armor serves more than to just protect the innovative internals of the motorcycle; it also provides an aerodynamic advantage for the rider and his machine—a technology that was still in its infancy. While many manufacturers were experimenting with fairings and wind-cheating bodies, few did it with the elegance and grace of the Boselli brothers.

Sammy Miller, founder of the motorcycle museum that bears his name, was asked, “You are a great rider, you had success in most of the categories of racing, but which bike do you put on the podium?” He quickly responded, “I choose the 250 Mondial…it is the last four-stroke engine to fight honorably against the two-stroke engine in the late ’50s.” Sammy Miller finished 3rd overall in the 1957 World Championship, at the handle bars of the very same F.B. Mondial 250 he still owns today.

This 250 Mondial is one of the most historically important Italian race bikes of the Modern Era, as it was built by a renowned constructor, driven by a legendary figure, and is bearing superb engineering that is shrouded in streamlined grace. The offering of this historic 250 F.B. Mondial is an especially unique opportunity, as it has beauty, competitive spirit, and pedigree, all on two wheels.

This lot will be offered on a Bill of Sale.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more