Only 2-owners from new, 1955 DKW RT125 Cavani

Only 2-owners from new
1955 DKW RT125 Cavani

Engine no. 2111

Founded in 1919 by Danish engineer Jorgen Rasmussen, the DKW company began with a single cylinder 2-stroke power unit to hang on a bicycle wheel. The success of the 122cc powerplant was developed through the next decade, making DKW the world leaders in two-stroke design in the 1930s, and Continental Europe’s largest manufacturer. Just prior to the outbreak of war, DKW introduced the RT, a robust 125cc 2-stroke machine, but the conflict brought a temporary halt to the model. Post-war, production restarted, but as part of reparations, DKW’s blueprints for the model were handed over to numerous companies, and it’s simple but hardy design led it to become the most copied motorcycle design of all time. The RT and its derivatives were manufactured in at least six different countries, produced by numerous different companies:  The Harley Hummer, the BSA Bantam, the Soviet’s Moskva M1A, the NSU 125, Norway’s ’54 Tempo, the Jawa 125, Czepal 125, and from Italy, the MV Agusta, Moto Morini, Maserati, and Sterzi 125. Also, from the UK, James, Triumph, and Royal Enfield manufactured a derivative, and the list goes on.

Despite all that, this example is actually somewhat rare. Bruno Cavani was the first DKW dealer outside of Germany, in Italy. After WWII, Italy banned imported motorcycles that weighed 185kgs or less, suddenly leaving Cavani with no business. Ever the entrepreneur, he imported DKW engines (125/175/200/250cc) and then made his own bikes with local suppliers! 

An absolute rarity in the US, likely in the single digits, this bike hails from an extensive collection of Italian vehicles of all sizes. Purchased by him in Italy from the original owner, the bike was imported and put on static display for many years. Just sympathetically serviced, the bike is reported to run very well, and remains in perfectly original condition. The indicated 13,000km is believed to be original. The bike is accompanied by original Italian ownership documentation, including the warranty card, original logbook with the first owner’s details and the Torino license plate, which remains on the bike.


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