One man's childhood dream: inside one amazing bike collection
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Most people can recall the childhood pleasure of settling down with the Argos catalogue and pointedly ticking off everything they want for Christmas. It's a rite of passage, and while the pleasure doesn’t necessarily fade as an adult, the burdensome obligation to pay for your own Scalextric can dull the glow.
But some people march into adulthood, Biro in hand, with the same dreams they had in youth. Hungarian-born motorcycle fanatic Miklos Salamon, is one such man – as a boy he pored over Dave Minton's 70s motorcycle anthology Superbikes, scribbling down each machine he’d like to have in his dream garage, and as an adult he turned this dream in to a reality.
Born in 1955 in a turbulent Budapest, Salamon’s first year saw the arrival of The Hungarian Revolution. His family were forced out to an Austrian refugee camp, but soon found themselves in North East England when his father was employed by the National Coal Board.
By 1963, they were in South Africa as his father found work at The Chamber of Mines, where Miklos (Mike to his friends) would study mining engineering and ultimately enter the same profession. He was a diligent businessman. In 1997 he was a co-founding director of Billiton and and in 2001, having moved to Australia, he oversaw its merger with BHP.
Miklos had acquired various motorcycles throughout his illustrious career. He bought his first, a 1961 500cc AJS Thumper with money he scraped together from odd jobs as a teenager, and enjoyed riding out with his wife and three children whenever possible. But a health scare in 2010 prompted him to begin a collection.
A 1965 BMW 594cc R69S
He began buying bikes in earnest, using his copy of Superbikes as a checklist. He sourced the very finest examples of his childhood favourites and quickly amassed one of the most impressive and comprehensive private motorcycle collections in existence. He focused on bikes of his own 'era', the Sixties and Seventies, and had a particular soft spot for Harley Davidsons. And he avoided black bikes as much as possible; Miklos was a colourful character and liked his bikes to reflect that.
The collection is all-encompassing. Seriously rare machines such as a Münch Mammoth, an Indian In-line Four and a Chinese Red Vincent jostle for space against Japanese superbikes, café racers and scramblers. The now 40-strong collection quickly outgrew a mere garage, and specialist premises had to be found.
Miklos by this time was living in the UK, and leased a unit in Cranleigh, Surrey with a well-equipped workshop and took on a mechanic to do in-house restorations to ensure every bike was ‘just so.’
A 1940 Intian 78ci Four
The team also took on custom jobs for clients, an enterprise which ended up costing, rather than making, money, as Miklos would turn down commissions that he wasn’t keen on.
After a year, even with two storage units, the collection had grown so rapidly that a cat would have trouble getting through the door, never mind being swung. The collection was then moved to a cavernous unit outside Guildford.
Miklos passed away last year, leaving his tremendous collection as a testament to the power of childhood dreams.
- Telegraph UK