Moto Guzzi Le Mans 1000
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History of Moto Guzzi              Guzzi Eagle

Carlo GuzziCrises often trigger people being inventive and take extraordinary initiatives for their own way out. That is exactly what happened in Italy, after the 1e World War had ended and was succeeded by the economical crisis of the 20's. The country was in poor state, but -different from other motorcycle companies building cheap and light vehicles for transportation- technician Carlo Guzzi and his friends Giorgio Parodi and Giovanni Ravelli, a well-known aircraft test pilot, developed a high class motorcycle.
Carlo Guzzi
With assistance of blacksmith Giorgio Ripamonte they constructed a 500cc 1-cylinder bike  with focus on quality and reliability. Parodi, son of a wealthy ship owner from Genoa, supplied the required investment capital and the SA Moto Guzzi was established on 15 March 1921 in Mandello del Lario on the borders of the Lake Como. The first bikes were called "G.P." (Guzzi-Parodi) but this gave some confusion with Giorgio Parodi's initials. So they decided to use the name Moto Guzzi. The eagle should be the logo, as a contribution to their friend Ravelli who suddenly died in a plane crash.
With the first series of 2 bikes, Typo Normale, Carlo himself already participated in races because of the expected promotional publicity. In 1921 the first appearance was 20e place in the race Milano-Napoli, but the following appearance in the famous Targa Florio in the same year already resulted in a victory for the Guzzi driven by Gino Finzi. This first success has been succeeded by no less than 3329 victories -including 11 TT's and 14 world championships- between 1921 and 1957.
Moto Guzzi Tipo Normale
Moto Guzzi Typo Normale
The engagement with racing also contributed to the standard models. Moto Guzzi e.g. was one of the first producers building frames with suspension in 1928. At first, other constructors behaved pretty skeptic about this development. But when Moto Guzzi succeeded in the 250cc as well as the 500cc class in the famous TT-races on the Island of Man in 1935 (being the first not UK-bike in 24 years winning this race), the follow up was granted.
TT Victory
TT Victory Isle of Man 1935
1939 came with the introduction of the Airone 250, the most beloved mid-weight bike in Italy for over 15 years. For racing purposes, this model was further developed into the Dondolino, Gambalunga and Condor models.
Moto Guzzi Airone
After the 2nd World War, people could no longer afford the big and heavy luxurious bikes. The country was in need for easy and cheap transportation. Moto Guzzi responded with developing the 65cc Guzzino (Cardellino) and its successors the 98cc Zigolo, 175 Galetto and Lodola. Next to this model line, still some development was done on the 500cc model, resulting in the GTV 500 (Astore) and Facone 500. The heavy robust single cylinder with agile handling, its technical features as well as the outboard flywheel remained attractive for the enthousiasts.
Guzzi V8As business went well, the technical genius Giulio Carcano designed and built the Moto Guzzi V8, one of the most outstanding models in history and without precedent at that time. The possibilities of the concept were already demonstrated during its first appearance in the Belgian GP in 1955 and victories in the following year. But in 1957 the company withdraw from racing, so further development was stopped. This was also forced by the huge sums of money spent on the development budget, because tough times were to arrive for the motorcycle industry. Due to the booming economy and growing wealth, the public started looking for family cars instead of riding motorbikes. Also with the death of Parodi (1955) and Guzzi (1964), two icons and driving forces behind the brand Moto Guzzi had disappeared. Italian government came with the solution of establishing the SEIMM group, a conglomerate of government controlled industries. As a consequence, Moto Guzzi had to concentrate on small bikes like the Dingo and Trotter, but Carcano found some way of simultaneously developing a brand new concept: the Moto Guzzi V7 in 1967.
Moto Guzzi V8
This models was received and sold pretty well, despite being quite different from the sporty 1-cylinder bikes in the past; the new model was a heavy 2-cylinder cruiser.
But Moto Guzzi could not conceal its racing history and came out with the impressive V7 Sport in 1971. Because the US, as a major market, fancied more the cruiser-type of machine, the company developed the Special, California and Ambassador for the American market but all based on the same V-twin engine.
Guzzi V7
Moto Guzzi V7
With the dismantling of SEIMM, Moto Guzzi was sold in 1973 to Argentinean Alessandro do Tomaso who took the exploding Japanese models as an example and developed 4-cylinder line models, varying from 250-500cc. Because do Tomaso also purchased Benelli (and later Maserati and Innocenti), this resulted in some Italian badge-engineering where almost identical engines were used for different brands. Next to that, Moto Guzzi took the frame of the old V model and put smaller blocks in like the handy V35 and V50 Monza with Heron technique and belt drive for the valves.
The 4-cylinder models had only a short life-cycle, but the small twins proved ancestors of a new range of larger models like Nevada, Griso Corsa and the new California types.
Because Alessandro withdraw from motorcycles, the company was sold to Aprilia in 2004, recently taken over by the Piaggio group. This appears to be a group with a genuine motorcycle heart, setting high expectations for the future. A range of new models -still based upon the V7 ancestor- has been developed since up to 1200cc for the Norge.