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Moto Guzzi 254

Friday, 18-Mar-2005 Hamar webdesign The Netherlands Nijega Fryslân

The legend of Moto Guzzi was born in 1920 when blacksmith Giorgio Ripamonti and Carlo Guzzi built their first motorcycle. It had a horizontal single cylinder, four-stroke 500 cc engine, four-valve cylinder head and overhead camshaft, bore 88 mm, stroke 82 mm. They presented the bike to to Emanuele Vittorio Parodi, a Genoese ship owner who, after an initial loan of two thousand lire, agreed to finance a motorcycle production company.

On March 15, 1921 at Mandello del Lario on the eastern shore of Lake Como in Italy, Carlo Guzzi, technical genius and designer, and his friend Giorgio Parodi, Emanuele’s son, founded the Società Anonima Moto Guzzi.

Unlike almost all other motocycles, every component of Carlo Guzzi’s envisioned motorcycle was rational and essential. First and foremost it had to guarantee functionality and reliability. That first prototype, which was so radically different from other bikes in its engine configuration and low-slung frame, did just that.

This philosophy has been engrained in Guzzi products throughout the company’s entire eighty-year life.

The first motorcycles were known as G.P. (Guzzi-Parodi), but subsequent models were named Moto Guzzi to avoid confusion with Giorgio Parodi’s initials. The eagle logo was added as a tribute to Giovanni Ravelli who died suddenly in an air accident. To promote the new make, Carlo Guzzi made his racing debut on May 28, 1921, entering the Milan-Naples race with the only two machines produced so. They won 20th and 21st place.

Only four months later Gino Finzi’s Guzzi won a sensational first place at the famous Targa Florio. This was the start of the extraordinary series of 3,329 successes, 11 Tourist Trophies, and 14 World Championship Titles between 1921 and 1957. The racing experience was reflected in standard production machines in terms of quality and the adoption of technically avant-garde solutions.

The Sport series was introduced in 1923 with outstanding success, especially with the Sport 15 model. This was followed in 1928 by launch of the GT, the first Moto Guzzi with an elastic frame, an innovation at first criticized and then adopted by all constructors throughout the world.

The company’s growth was dramatic. In 1934, just 13 years after its founding, the 17 employees in the Guzzi factory at Mandello had swelled to 700. This same year the famous Guzzi 500 twin made its debut, going on to dominate the World Championship circuits unchallenged with its highly original 120 V engine.

In 1935, the definitive international racing consecration came on the Isle of Man as the Guzzi 250 and 500 twin, both with elastic frame, were victorious in the Tourist Trophy. For the first time in history, a non-English bike had won what had already become the world’s most important race and Moto Guzzi went down as a legend, along with the extraordinary racing protagonists of those years such as Tenni, Woods, Ruffo, Lorenzetti, and Anderson, to name just a few of the Guzzi official riders.

In the 1930s, two new models were introduced: the P 175 and the P 250 along with their derivations the P.E. P.L. Egretta, Ardetta and the famous Airone 250, which was the most popular medium capacity motorcycle in Italy for almost 15 years.

For private riders, racing models such as the Dondolino, Gambalunga and Condor were also developed.

After WWII, the motorcycle market changed radically. The war left Italy deeply scarred, with almost all roads damaged and cars too expensive for most people. The motorcycle became the main transportation vehicle, partly due to technological progress which developed highly efficient low powered motorcycles. After the war, Italians moved about on scooters and the so-called lightweight motorcycles which attracted a much larger public than their higher powered sisters.

They delivered an acceptable speed while being strong, relatively clean and easy to ride and handle.

These were the principal characteristics of the Guzzino 65 cc which was launched by Moto Guzzi in 1946. Designed by Antonio Micucci and re-christened the Cardellino in the 1950s, the Guzzino was the best-selling lightweight motorcycle in Italy and Europe for more than a decade. In fact, when the first rally was organized in 1949, just three years after its launch, 14,000 people participated.

The unprecedented success of the Guzzino paved the way for production of other low capacity motorcycles. These ranged from the Galletto, the highly original hybrid between a scooter and a motorcycle, to the Zigolo, a 98 cc lightweight motorcycle and the Lodola 175 cc, the last design to bear Carlo Guzzi’s name in 1956.

Moto Guzzi 254

At the higher capacity end of the range, in 1950 the then-outdated GTV 500 (later renamed the Astore) was replaced by the Falcone 500, becoming the dream of the majority of motorcyclists in the 1950s. In 1949, the first World Motorcycle Championships were held and, in the following decade until 1957, when Moto Guzzi participated for the last time, the company managed to astound enthusiasts with a series of amazing wins, creating a succession of innovative and consistently successful designs and machines.

Along with Carlo Guzzi, the racing team included top mechanics such as Umberto Todero and Enrico Cantoni and a designer who became a legend, Giulio Cesare Carcano. After joining Moto Guzzi in 1936, he created the sensational Guzzi 500 Eight Cylinder.

Considered by many as the most extraordinary two-wheeled machine of all time with its 90 V engine, the Eight Cylinder boasted the most extreme capacity staging ever achieved and demonstrated the exceptional technical level of the Mandello design department. As early as 1955 on its first official outing during the Belgium Grand Prix trials, the Eight Cylinder hinted at its extraordinary potential. The following year, with its 72 hp and 275 km/h, it went officially onto the tracks and triumphed.

In 1957, the company’s decision to withdraw from racing prevented further development of this spectacular machine.

The 1960s brought major changes to the company. After the death of Giorgio Parodi in 1955, then of Carlo Guzzi in 1964, Moto Guzzi was acquired by SEIMM during the deep crisis which hit the motorcycling sector during those years. During that time, the company focused on lightweight machines such as the Dingo and Trotter mopeds, which were in great demand from the younger population, and the development of a new 90 V twin engine designed by Carcano which would become the symbol of Moto Guzzi.

The Guzzi V7, launched in 1967, was the first motocycle fitted with Carcano’s V twin with a capacity of 703 cc. It was remarkably successful and, after the V7 Special with 750 cc engine in 1971, the legendary V7 Sport was launched. This machine, with its elegant lines and exceptional stability, enjoyed extraordinary success.

The Special, California and Ambassador versions were developed for the American market. In 1973, Guzzi became part of the De Tomaso Inc. group and began producing a series of four cylinder engines, culminating in the Guzzi 254. They then refocused production on development of the V twin which was very popular and identified the distinctive character of the Mandello company.

All subsequent versions of the V7 adopted a Sport type frame and, in 1977, were also adapted to lower capacity versions via the Guzzi V35 and V50. These two models provided the basis of the whole range of Guzzi machines in the 1980s, with special attention paid to design. In the 1990s, from the California series to the Nevada and the V11 Sport, there was a radical revival of the Guzzi spirit.

Today, Moto Guzzi, part of the Aprilia group, has launched the new V11 Sport Rosso Mandello. This is the fruit of the combination of tradition and innovation which has always characterized products bearing the Mandello eagle and represents the birth of a legend unequalled in the history of motorcycling.

Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254
Moto Guzzi 254


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