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Saturday, December 17, 2011


Rarest bike
Dale Lund's 1974 Condor Swiss Army Motorcycle took home the Rarest Bike trophy during the Vintage Motorcycle Meet at Leatherworks in Branson Saturday, May 21. Lund, of Branson, said his Condor is a daily rider and is completely original, so don't be surprised when you see him tooling around town.
Photo by Craig Donze

On May 21, 2005, I won my only trophy. The annual Branson Motorcycle Rally was on, and for the first time I happened to have time off work on the day of the Vintage Motorcycle Meet. And so Micki and I rode into the event with everybody staring at the Condor, and parked at the end of a line of entries. We were then mobbed by people walking up and asking questions. There was no entry fee, and right away, Tracy, the man sponsoring the event, came and said that I'm up for the Rarest Bike trophy. Micki and I spent two fun hours, eating free donuts and me drinking free coffee, talking with other bikers about our bike and theirs. One fellow even adjusted my rear brake for me. When the awards were presented at 11 a.m., trophies were handed out for Best Custom, Best Restoration, Oldest Bike, etc., and when Tracy held up the trophy for Rarest Bike, he paused and looked over the audience and asked, "Has anyone ever seen a Condor before?" About two hundred bikers -- total silence.

With the trophy in my hand and our getting ready to ride off, a man came up and asked if he could take a picture. Throughout the two hours, many pictures had been taken of the Condor and of me and the Condor, and there was always a small gathering around the bike, and so I thought this was just another; but it turned out to be a reporter for the Taney County Times and the Branson Daily Independent, and the photo made front page!

Having purchased the bike mail-order and sight unseen for $2500 from Major Surplus and Survival in Gardena, California, it has taken Micki and me to Eureka Springs, Arkansas and back, our daughter Glory and me to Wichita, Kansas and back, and me to Traverse City, Michigan and back, as well as regularly commuting to work. I also took a road trip with the Freedom of Road Riders motorcycle club. It got to where I began calling the bike a "friend maker." I also bought some (mostly foreign) military clothing to go with it, including a Swiss Army helmet. On the way through Michigan, I was riding along a less-traveled freeway, when a car passed and I saw it slow down up ahead still in the left lane. Eventually I caught up with it, and smiled when I saw a woman leaning out the passenger window with a camera, taking a picture when alongside.

Only three thousand A350 Condors were made, in the 1970's.  The engine is by Ducati.  The electrical system and headlight is by BMW.  The rest is Swiss.  When the Swiss Army switched over to BMWs in 2001, the Condors were put into dry storage (having been well kept up) and sold in batches around the world.

One day, on my way home from work, an oncoming car turned left in front of me, too close for me to avoid at my speed. When I saw we were going to hit, I assumed I was going to die. Not wanting to exit this world while seeing gore, I closed my eyes. When the accident seemed to be taking a long time, I took a peek only to watch the handlebars sideswiping the car. After closing my eyes again, something caught, throwing my body through the handlebars (breaking them), and I heard the thumping of my body hitting the pavement.

Scratches on my Swiss Army helmet after the accident
I never lost consciousness, and didn't get any "road-rash" -- didn't even hurt my postal uniform -- but did separate my right shoulder and suffered pain in my right kidney area. My first thought, though, was the furious question: How could anybody dare run into a 1974 Swiss Army Condor?!!

The other driver's insurance company paid for the Condor's repair (with parts shipped from Colorado) plus $33,000. I was off work for four relaxing months. Afterwards I thought, hey, if I can get someone to turn in front of me every year, I'd be doing all right.

Since then, the Condor has conked out a few times en route, with trouble kick-starting it afterwards. A few years ago I attempted to adjust the carburetor here in the yard, then couldn't get it started, so wheeled it into the basement. There it's sat ever since. Even if I never ride it again, I sure got my money's worth with all the great memories shared with my Rarest Bike, my friend maker.

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1 comment:

  1. Glad you did not sell it Dale. Another interesting adventure story. The more I look at the picture, the more I have a hard time trying to recognize you. You do not look like the Dale I know in that picture. Keep writing those stories.