Spending an evening with Bob and Bill Doll – in Bill’s motorcycle showcase, which is nestled in a quiet Independence neighborhood – is filled with stories that are so vivid and heartfelt, you can feel the wind blowing through your hair.
The two brothers were talking about their colorful trips to places like Mexico, Alaska and throughout the United States on legendary bikes that are not only functional, they are works of art.
All that’s missing is a Bruce Springsteen soundtrack on the thrills of taking off on the open highway with only a dream and a road map to guide the way.
Bill’s 1953 Italian beauty, a sleek 1953 Moto Guzzi Astore, and Bob’s stylish 1972 Suzuki GT Le Mans will be featured at the 10th annual Art of the Car Concours that will be held Sunday on the KC Art Institute grounds, just east of the Plaza (admission is $20 at the gate; children age 16 and younger are free; for more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.artofthecarconcours.com; proceeds benefit the KCAI scholarship fund).
The yearly event will be the showcase for more than 200 cars from across the country, with vintage car and specialty vehicle collectors and enthusiasts from New Jersey to California showing off their vehicles.
And any exhibitor might not be able to top the enthusiasm of the two brothers who have enjoyed a love affair with bikes and motorcycles since they were youngsters.
“Our dad built us and our older brother Ken a motor scooter – that’s what you rode on long before mini-bikes,” explained Bill, who has worked at the Black & Veatch engineering firm the past 43 years. “He got the instructions from a Boys’ Life magazine and that was it. We mowed yards, we did anything to make money to support our motorcycle habits.”
Listening to the conversation is their father Kenneth, a strapping 85-year-old former TWA employee who jokingly said he goes to the motorcycles shows and meets all the cute girls by telling them he was Marlon Brando’s stunt double for “The Wild Ones.”
“Ken asked me how he could make money to buy that bike,” Kenneth said, chuckling, “and I gave him my shammy – a real shammy, not like those things they have today – and told him to go the car wash and when people came out from washing their cars, offer to wipe them off.”
Unbeknownst to Ken, Kenneth followed him to the car wash and called a prospective client aside and said, “See that boy over there with the shammy? Here’s a dollar. Pay it to him and let him wipe off your car.
“Ken came home that night with dollar bills hanging out of his shirt and pants pockets – they were everywhere.”
Bill and Bob’s first bikes were each Suzukis, but soon Bill fell in love with the Moto Guzzi, a rare Italian bike that rarely found its way to U.S. shores.
Now, there are four in Bill’s home/showcase.
“I like to keep things spotless and neat,” said Bill, whose garage is cleaner than many kitchens. “I’d get a bike that someone thought was junk, take it apart, find the parts for it, put it together and I had a nice Moto Guzzi.”
Bob, who recently retired after serving the Blue Springs School District as an art teacher for 29 years, says that bikes help create a special bond between the brothers.
“We love to ride and, as you can see, we love to talk about our bikes,” said Bob, who once built a bike from a box of parts that were delivered in kitty litter boxes and drawers from a dresser. “We like to buy old, buy cheap and create something special.”
And this weekend they will be seen as works of art.