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click to enlarge The white paint makes the interior look less crowded; two one-car garage doors open to get bikes in and out.

Special Effects

Motorcycle collector employs visual techniques to make a new barn look old.

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by Phil Berg

The fake birds’ nests in the corners of the ceiling of Guy Webster’s motorcycle garage are a tip that details are important to him. He developed his Italian bike obsession back in 1973, when he was living in Italy and had two motorcycles. A local Ducati, Laverda and MV Augusta dealer was explaining to Webster that sales were bad because of competition from newcomers Honda and Kawasaki, and so Webster gazed at the dealer’s shop full of beautiful Italian bikes. “I looked at this beautiful lineup in this church-like setting and I said one day if I ever have any money, I’ve got to have these bikes.”

As Webster became a successful designer in the motion picture industry, he began collecting the bikes, and amassed almost 160 bikes from the 1960s to the 1980s. The collection was unwieldy, so he pared down by selling almost 100 from the 1980s. Then he divided the collection to two categories, the early years from the 1950s to a 1979 Mike Hailwood replica Ducati of Italian street sport bikes. The other category was split into Italian race bikes from the 1950s to 1970.

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click to enlarge The skywindows and lights in the doors keep the interior of the barn full of daylight.

“The 50’s race bikes were raced on the street city-to-city,” Webster explains, “They were the most successful races in Italy because if you won one of those the sales of your bike would go way up. They raced from Bologna to Florence, and Milan to Torino, those were all street bike races. They were actually factory race bikes with lights. They are the most gorgeous bikes I’ve seen.”

He purchased a small farm in a rural area, with enough space to build a house. There was a small barn on the property, and it inspired him to build a new home for his bikes in 1977. He wanted the barn to look old, but he wanted the conveniences of a modern building. “It’s all heated, air conditioned, you could live in it. I built it myself.”

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click to enlarge Originally the workshop and office contained animals, but was remodeled. It sits about 100 feet from the motorcycle barn.

Other touches he added didn’t exactly follow the barn motif: “We put in the checkered floor and then I just painted it with epoxy. And I kind of like it because it is easy to clean.” The spider webs are painted on. Sky windows provide light. “I figure if I ever sold it, I would sell it to a car guy,” he says about the way the garage is set up.

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