Picture Intermission – Silver Shotgun at the Petersen Museum

In Intermissions by AbhiLeave a Comment

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Paul d’Orleans and the Petersen Museum seem to like each other very much, as they’ve partnered on a third consecutive motorcycle exhibit! The new one is called Silver Shotgun, and it’s focused on “Italian Motorcycle Design of the 1960s and 1970s”. I just got back from the opening reception, and I figured you’d like to see some of my highlights!


Photos by Nathan May and yours truly.


First, have you seen my galleries from Paul’s previous exhibits at the Petersen?
Custom Revolution
Electric Revolution

The exhibit explores “the relationship between cutting edge italian motorcycle sof the late 1960s and 1970s, and Italian industrial design and fashion, when these industries seemed to explode with color, energy, and competitive vigor.” It’s supported by the Stuart Parr collection and was produced by the Motorcycle Arts Foundation and Sasha Tcherevkoff.

Considering the name of the exhibit is Silver Shotgun, it seems appropriate to start with the Ducati that lent its name. By the time Ducati had released the Mark 3 Desmo, they had an impressive variety of trim levels. In ’71, they added to the line up with their first ever motocross bike (the R/T), and a street bike with silver fiberglass bodywork. Two Wheels Magazine in Australia called the latter the “Silver Shotgun”, and the nickname stuck.

Pictured in the background are Nathan, Julia LaPalme, and Julia’s husband Will Steenrod with a surprise bird. How sweet of him.

The US outlawed fiberglass fuel tanks in 1973, meaning these beauties were only built for a couple of years.

The man of the hour – Paul d’Orleans looks as stylish as ever at the opening of his newest exhibit. Paul’s work will be a mainstay at the Petersen, as he’s recently signed a five-year deal to continue his excellent guest curation!

This gorgeous Bimota SB2 was provided by Paul Murphy of Edmonton, Alberta. Just 70 were built between 1977 and 1978. Tim Huber featured one of these with modified bodywork about a year ago, and Paul himself left a comment saying that “the original SB2 is the horniest motorcycle in history.”

There were a couple of scramblers I had never seen before, including this Mondial 48 Cross V4.

Per the handy informational plaque that accompanied each bike, the 48cc 2-stroke single produces just 1.4 horsepower, but that is enough for 25 miles per hour as it weighs just 114 pounds.

Another scrambler I had never seen before in person before tonight was the MV Agusta 250B.

This was one of many motorcycles on display that had been provided by Stuart Parr.

It might just be my favorite bike in the whole collection, just because it was so new to me. Only 52 were ever built, and I doubt I’ll see another one in the flesh again. Look at that headlight guard!

There were even a couple of cars. In the corner of the exhibit was a 1971 Fiat Shellette, a “beach car” built on Fiat’s 850 rear-engine/rear wheel drive platform. Just 80 were built.

Just outside of the exhibit was the Lancia Stratos HF Zero prototype, which was a perfect complement to all of the Italian motorcycles.

This sold at a RM Sotheby’s auction at Villa d’Este in 2011 for €761,600! Want to hear it run?

Leading this six-pack of faired beauties is a genuine Ducati 750 that raced at the 1972 Imola 200. It’s one of seven that the factory built that year, and it might be the only one that’s kept the original finish. Paul Smart’s victory in that race led Ducati to create a production replica: the instant-classic “green frame” 750SS that has thoughtfully been parked right alongside.

A Benelli Quattro stood tall on the highest point of the elevated central platform.

Only problem is, it was too tall for anyone to see the funky design of the tank with the integrated gauges!

This was the craziest thing in the exhibit, if not the entire museum: Luigi Colani’s “Study for a Centaur Frog”.

It’s one of 7 sculptures built in 1973, and it’s absolutely stunning to look at.

As always, there were some great people in attendance – it was wonderful to see old friend and make some new ones. I complimented a gentleman on his classic Dainese jacket, and it turned out to be none other than Lance Holst!

Jeremy S. introduced himself as a Bike-urious reader, which I appreciated – my appreciation quickly turned to amazement when I found out that he is from Montreal, was in Phoenix for something unrelated, and rented a BMW GS to ride out to Los Angeles for this exhibit!

There was even some fun stuff in the parking lot, like this Ducati with a spoiler:

There is so much more to enjoy – but I have to leave some surprises for you to enjoy in person, right? If you won’t be able to make it out to Los Angeles while this exhibit is up for the next year, you can see some more photos from tonight in this album or check out Paul’s site for photos and details about each bike in Silver Shotgun.

Obviously, the best way to enjoy this exhibit is up close and personal, so if you can, go visit the Petersen!

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