Among the more unexpected results of Volkswagen's global diesel pollution scandal is the giant conglomerate's decision to sell off legendary Italian sportbike manufacturer Ducati, and American icon Harley-Davidson is lining up to grab the prize.
News agency Reuters reports that Harley has retained Goldman Sachs to guide its bid for what could be a $1.7 billion purchase that would combine drastically different motorcycle brands under a single roof.
Other bidders include Indian motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto and several buyout funds, according to Reuters reporter Pamela Barbaglia.
Volkswagen acquired Ducati during a buying binge under previous boss Ferdinand Piech, which saw the German people's car company snap up the likes of Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti in a bid to boost the brand's prestige and size.
Now, struggling with the costs of the diesel scandal, VW is downsizing, which creates the opportunity for Harley-Davidson to gain a foothold in the market for sport bikes.
Harley's own efforts in this area failed when its Buell brand was shuttered during the recession. A tie-up with Ducati wouldn't be Harley's first Italian connection.
The Milwaukee heavy cruiser manufacturer turned to Italian bike builder Aermacchi to provide it small, lightweight dirt bikes during the 1970s motocross craze. Harley's Italian ride is most famous as the bike outcast troublemaker Kelly Leak rode in the original 1976 Bad News Bears film.