Moto Guzzi v8

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Moto Guzzi 750 S

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Guzzi v8

Jeff Gilbert’s Moto Guzzi Ottocilindri

By Garson, Mar. 30, 2005

A weeks ago a TV crew from the Discovery Channel flew LAX from London to film for their program The Top-10 of Yes, everybody and thier has a Top-10 list and several have aired previously on one or another or on the pages of numerous mags. However, it’s the turn now, and they with their own Top-10

You might expect to find the suspects spotlighted. the Vincent Shadow, Ariel Square-Four, 750 Super Sport, the Brough-Superior the Honda CB750, the Triumph and rightly so, these bikes earned their claim to by dint of design, performance, and that magical ingredient, However, one motorcycle milestone is rarely seen in other but was included among UK crew’s was another Italian exotic.

No, not a MV Agusta or Laverda, rather a Guzzi. We’re talking the Guzzi V-8. rarer dragon’s teeth, as highly as one of the Czar’s famous Faberge and just as expensive. Maybe

one motorcycle milestone that is seen in other lists but was among UK crew’s must-haves, was Italian exotic.

But they had one, rather I had found one for cameras. In the past, I’ve other things of interest for the both cars and bikes, ended up on English television, and we all the BBC makes the world’s best In any case, they called me as had seen a motorcycle history I had written and figured I could up some photogenic motorcycles for program. For instance, did I know about the Moto Guzzi

Well, I said, not that but I do know where one is, here in about ten minutes from my I think they dropped the And so it came to pass that I the crew over to a small with big history, a space to a neutron star so compacted is it precious two wheeled metal, a come true garage belongs to L.A.historian/restorer/collector/bonvivant Jeff a fellow who made his own top ten list more than just thinking.

Through dint of hard work and perseverance, he it all come to pass. He now has his top ten. the near mythical Guzzi How that came to pass, as say, is another story.

delve into all that, but a bit of background. the events that into what turned out to be Guzzi’s last great at greatness.

The image of the Moto at least until recently, was of looking cruisers notable for durability. For a while they even the choice of mounts for the Highway Patrol. In Europe, a different story altogether.

Moto Guzzi literally put its country on wheels, sold hot pasta, and brought many a championship home to its origins beautiful Lake Como in Italy. The backdrop was WWI, a conflagration touted to end all conflagrations. In first one, Italy was on the of the good guys.

Defending the were two pilots Giorgi and Giovanni Ravelli who depended on a mechanic named Carlo to keep their aircraft fit. While his friends flying, Guzzi’s thoughts more earthbound; he dreamed of the motorcycle. Ravelli, who also was a motorcycle racer, looked at designs, and gave them a up.

Unfortunately, Ravelli would ride on one of Carlo’s dream He would fall from the sky in

Moto Guzzi literally put its country on wheels, sold hot pasta, and brought many a championship home to its origins beautiful Lake Como in Italy.


After hostilities in 1918, Guzzi and Parodi to work building what initially called the GP motorcycle, named after themselves. The now eagle in flight logo was in homage to their fallen Borrowing some lira his deep-pockets dad, Parodi the first prototypes.

They going where no Italians had before, since Italy produced no motorcycles plus had if any export. However, GP plugged on.

jokes about his severely motorcycle. I see myself in Starbucks a double latte sitting at a table with two other The chairs are empty.

I’m for the two other members for the annual of the Replica Moto Guzzi V-8 Club. and they never up!

Ten days before Christmas, and Guzzi unveiled a motorcycle now called the Moto Guzzi and it was a new design and fairly advanced as had mounted the 500cc engine in the frame, against the norm of the plus the flywheel was mounted of the crankcase instead of internally as was the norm. Moto Guzzi interested in the norm.

That Guzzi was appropriated called La and immediately went racing as the believed firmly in the adage competition improves the breed. It well to say the least, the new machine the famous Targo Florio. The was impressed. By 1923 there was a new valve engine plus a racer added to the standard line. in 1924 that the Italian company ventured the big time, competing in the Grand of Europe at Monza.

The upstarts …. and swept the race an astounding 1-2-3 finish.Guzzi win the major Italian races of the era the Giro dвItalia, but it was in 1924 the young Italian company into the big time, competing in the Prix of Europe at Monza. The kicked …, besting the manufacturers and swept the race an astounding 1-2-3 finish. Guzzi was now on the map and sales reflected accumulation of victories.

In the following years, further and innovations came in fairly succession including new OHV engines, suspension, improved springer end, and improved braking a front brake). By 1934 offered a range of 175, 250 and models including full machines.

The next year raised the ante once challenging the all-vanquishing Norton at the Isle of Man TT, basically a course the racer owned lock, and single barrel thanks to a rider, Scotsman Jim Guthrie. Guzzi went to a Brit for skills, one Stanley Woods.

gave him a new racer featuring a V-twin with offset firing at 180 degrees with gears and shafts driving the good enough for 44 hp at 7500 rpm and 112 on equal standing with the It had an ace up its sleeve so to speak in that it a type of pivoted-fork rear while the frontend was a springer, a that had never won a Senior TT due to its deficiencies, or so was thought.

Guzzi had some tweaking in that as well. It also came with a massive twin-leading front brake, a 4-speed and alloy wheels, another to cut down unsprung weight.

the Guzzi V-8 looked heavy, it the scales at a svelte 320 lb. the heart of the beast being a water-cooled 90° V-8 with the relatively miniscule and … measurements of 44 x 41 mm. Eight 20 mm carbs fed the eight Lilliputian while eight short, exhaust pipes were unnoticeable, until you heard the light up.

When the dust had and the calculations determined, the wreath of went to Woods and Moto leaving Norton as they gobsmacked. Not only that, the had smashed the track lap record. The day Moto Guzzi was world

Always looking for that edge, Guzzi began with supercharged engines a 250cc bike that set a record of 132.2 mph, on to win First and Second Place at the German Grand Prix. The was not happy that his DKW had not won, but Il was his good buddy so he got over it. the war they sponsored ended not several million lives, it put a halt to motorcycle racing in

But after WWII, Italy, Germany, bounced back. Now each began producing class motorcycles again. Guzzi gave post-war an assortment of wheels, from scooters, three-wheeler trucks, and production racers, and sales hit an all time export high. By the 1950s, the singles were more modern V-Twins over.

A new very light space also added to the company’s successes which continued to Much of the credit goes to the brilliant lead designer Guilio Carcano.

He would up with an in-line four engine and added shaftdrive and cooling, although it turned out to be and quickly terminated. But it was an example of continually pushing the envelope.

looking for that winning Guzzi began experimenting supercharged engines including a bike that set a speed of 132.2 mph.

Carcano the envelope in the mailbox as snailmail he made the quantum leap to what has rightly been as the fastest road racing the world has ever seen. we’ve finally reached the Guzzi V-8. First in 1956, the 500cc (yes, 8 jewel-like pistons) performance was more or less secret 1957 when the data was

While it looked heavy, it tipped the scales at 320 lb. the heart of the beast being a water-cooled 90° V-8 with the relatively miniscule and … measurements of 44 x 41 mm. Eight 20 mm carbs fed the eight Lilliputian while eight short, exhaust pipes that almost unnoticeable until you the thing light up.

The engine, a fine Swiss watch roared, was mounted transversely in the equipped/leading link frontend used by the factory on their since 1953. Massive brake anchors were to haul the bike down its ferocious speeds. Those figures rated the engine’s at 62 hp at 12,000 rpm.

Did someone say Don’t let that whimpy 62 lead you to some premature when compared to today’s Remember we’re talking a century ago, and a bike clocked 162 mph, albeit the dolphin-style dustbin full in place, hiding all that beauty.

After dealing a list of teething problems a breakdown at Imola in April the V-8 was to face its trial by fire it rolled up to the grid at the Spa-Francorchamps course in Belgium, facing off the likes of John Surtees on an MV as as the best from Gilera and The V-8 was now pumped up to 75 hp and looking confident the full fairing was Australian Campbell. Down went the and off into the record books the Guzzi 8.

Slicing through the the V-8 repeatedly broke and rebroke the lap its top speed clocked at 178 mph on the Masta A moment later, it was prematurely Gearbox failure brought the limping back to the pits.

It its greatest hour and its last all in one. At the end of the season Guzzi, with Mondial and Gilera, to a stunned public that were retiring from So in effect the Moto Guzzi V-8 was the last hurrah. And a fitting one as were the cheers given up by the spectators who watched the event

When all told, Moto had achieved lasting fame, during 1921-1957, a list of that included 3,329 Racing Victories, 124 World Records and 14 World Championships.

At the end of the Guzzi, along with and Gilera, announced to a stunned that they were from racing.

When first saw his Guzzi V-8, he It was like opening up the back of a pocket watch and seeing the mechanism, all these wheels some clockwise, some I visualized all the intricacies of this engine, the eight pistons, the connecting rods, the eight plugs, the sixteen valves and so on.

Ok, so how Jeff Gilbert find the very happy owner of a V-8 50 years after it went Motor Guzzi mothballs? It all three years ago in Las Vegas. but in case what happened in didn’t stay there. was in glittertown not to see Wayne Newton, the tiger guys or the Back to Burlesque Revue.

He was in search of metal. And there was plenty of it at the bike auction. Like the rollers who frequent the casinos and in the posh presidential suites for Jeff was in like company, movers and shakers in the antique, and classic motorcycle family had to the auction looking for their own dream bike.

During the a friend introduces Jeff to guy from Italy, from place called Silea somewhere near Venice. His is Alessandro Altinier which be a clue in itself. I visualize all the of the jewel-like engine, the eight I see it going on in my mind. I consider it all art.

Is it art and an engineering feat all at the time? I think so. Alessandro has a brochure he’s made up a bunch of rare Moto he has up for sale.

Jeff peruses the then says, Got any V-8’s? a long pause as if Jeff’s some coded phrase. in the day, Alessandro then that he does indeed. In he has access to an original Ottocilindri and adds that he can build a around it.

Jeff is now interested, as he an Italian multi-cylinder to fill out his of bikes that starts and stop at 1970, his personal point. As he says, What’s representative of an Italian multi the bike with the most the Guzzi V-8? Plus predisposed to race bikes. So I I would be interested.

He tells me he was going to build five based on the original motor, copies of the original factory I believe his father also for Moto Guzzi and so had access to the to take measurements and so forth.

Moto Guzzi 750 S

Atelier asked for a deposit, not a one, and he went to work. report and photos followed. As it out Jeff believes only bikes were actually one going to Sammy Miller’s in England while California Virgil Ewing took while #4’s whereabouts are

Now the factory apparently produced a engines and maybe put together six bikes, three iterations them. Jeff believes the may have two complete V-8s and one in their collection. Getting to and lire, there’s also a of common sense, too.

asked why he would fork a bunch of money for a bike he had not Jeff says, I have a gut I’ve done this for years. The deposit wasn’t the end of the if it didn’t work out, but it got me committed.

The only downside was by the time it came to pay the remainder of the the dollar had waned against the and I ended up paying an additional 25 per over the original dollar However, before I picked it up at the Las Vegas auction, I had been responses by three trusted who saw it. Their evaluation was summed up in one Wow!

In fact they people were literally over it. My own response upon it was like opening up the back of a pocket watch and seeing the mechanism, all these wheels some clockwise, some I visual all the intricacies of the jewel-like the eight pistons, the eight rods, the eight spark the sixteen valves and so on.

I see it going on in my I consider it all industrial art. Is it art and an feat all at the same time? I so.

Sean says: What is a beautifully routed breather if it’s never allowed to

Their evaluation was summed up in one Wow! In fact they people were literally over it.

We comment that bike has a dual personality, one the aluminum dustbin fairing in one exposed, its labyrinthine structure in view. To which Jeff Both appearances appeal to me. The fairing itself has it own intricacy. you look at the race bikes of the they all had dustbin fairings they banned them, I in 1958.

Even though may have been powered by a cylinder engine, the fairings had own aesthetic of streamlining. Maybe also the fact that you to peel off that fairing to see lurks beneath.

We then another idiosyncrasy of the V-8. most motorcycles have a exhaust system that them off, pipes a primal element, the Guzzi to have none or at best an set of tiny little pipes, as it were. Jeff explains, bike actually has nine eight for exhaust and one for water from the cooling system. You to imagine you’re dealing eight separate 50cc

50cc is very small, not bigger than some airplane motors. As far as the exhaust that’s how you need to think It’s not the mass, it’s a scale. It’s all about speed as I understand it. People how you can have a half-liter V-8?

The is sitting right in front of

The question you’re probably is What’s the price tag for this multi replica?.

Let’s say it up to multiples of six figures. (An even according to the asking price for a Guzzi V-8 replica at Bator -Sean) When asked if it was it, Jeff says, It’s a affair. It’s nice to you have something of value, but beyond that, it’s a Jeff jokes about his rare motorcycle.

I see myself in nursing a double latte at a small table with two chairs. The chairs are empty. waiting for the two other members for the meeting of the Replica Moto V-8 Owners Club. and they show up.

NOTE: I had Paul ask if MO could start his V-8, so we capture its magical essence on (of course, I also offered to ride it for him). Sadly, it Mr. Gilbert has chosen not to ever or ride this motorcycle.

Jeff’s V-8 will never its stirring V-8 song, MO’s can still revel in the aural by closing their eyes and to this 1956 trackside of an original 500cc Guzzi I think it sounds a lot like the Cosworth DFV V-8 Formula One engines, the DFV wouldn’t even be invented for decade! Bravo Moto -Sean

_______________ Spec __________________

1956 Moto 500cc V-8 Racer

Manufacturer: Guzzi; Mandello del Lario

90° V-8, with two-shaft geared distribution (498.7 8 20mm Del’Orto carbs; two two distributors; four contact

Cooling: water

Transmission:

Chassis: Double cradle, tubular

Tires: 19-inch 20-inch rear

Brakes: — central drum, shoes; rear-drum

Moto Guzzi 750 S
Moto Guzzi 750 S
Moto Guzzi 750 S
Moto Guzzi 750 S
Moto Guzzi 750 S

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