No… this isn’t one of those custom made tribute bikes that have an engine and a chassis bolted together and sold off separably, but a genuine motorcycle commissioned by Lamborghini themselves.
Back in 1978 when Lamborghini filed for Bankruptcy, founder of the company Ferruccio Lamborghini was forced to sell all of his automotive business shares. The Italian court was looking after the company until Swiss Mimran brothers were appointed to run the company. The brothers began by restoring the name to former glory by restructuring the company’s program and managed to bring in a large sum of money. By 1984 the Mimran brothers officially owned the Raging bull brand and managed to rebuild some of the failed projects such as the Countach and the LM off road.
Now begins their diversification of the brand. One of brothers, Patrick Mimran decided that it would be a good idea to introduce Lamborghini motorcycle after using Lamborghini’s V12 engine in powerboats. For this, rather than investing more money into the company just to get hold of the tools to make the bike, he went to the then French bike specialist, ‘Boxer’ who back then had won several races in various categories and were considered as one of the best bike manufacturers at the time.
After the agreement with Boxer, the Lamborghini Design 90 was born in 1986. Designed by the Italians, engineered by the French and built using Japanese components. The fiberglass bodywork has a lot of design cues borrowed from the Countach 25th Anniversary.
Power came from a Kawasaki 1000cc, DOHC, 4 valve inline 4 engine producing 130bhp. More impressively, it only weighed 184kg wet. The low weight and optimum power gave this bike a top speed of 258km/h (160mph) which at the time was considerable fast. Journalists who were lucky enough to get their hands on described it as “one of the best handling bikes and was ahead in terms of performance compared to the bikes of that era”.
The handmade alloy frame, machined alloy parts, lightweight aluminium fuel tanks and adjustable oil-and-air suspension meant that production was slow and expensive. All together around 25 were planned to be produced and cost $13,500 which at the time was twice that of similar performance oriented motorcycles.
In the end, the project wasn’t deemed successful and was scrapped after just 6 bikes were made out of which just 5 are known to survive today. The value of these bikes as of now is estimated to be around €55,000 - €75,000. That is a lot for a 30 year old bike! and is a rare collectible among bike enthusiasts. It’s a shame there are no videos of the Design 90 being ridden or the exhaust note.