At the end of World War I, three Italian air corps friends, Carlo Guzzi, Giorgio Parodi and Giovanni Ravelli, planned a motorcycle manufacturing company. When Ravelli, a military pilot, was killed in a test flight, the other two adopted the Italian Air Corps’ eagle symbol in his honor, with this becoming the hallmark of the new company. In 1920, Carlo Guzzi designed the firm’s first bike, the Normale—a 500cc, four-stroke with a single, horizontal cylinder. It was very successful in racing and became very popular. Besides the Normale, the company also released several other notable models including the GT touring in 1928, the Sport 15 in 1931, the Condor in 1938 and the Dondolino in 1940.
In 1963, after Carlo Guzzi passed away, a crisis hit the motorcycle market and the company came under financial strain. After a brief period (1963-67) under the reign of Enrico Parodi (Giorgio’s brother), the state-controlled receiver SEIMM took ownership of Moto Guzzi. In 1965, engineer Giulio Cesare Carcano designed the 90-degree V-twin 700cc engine. The V7 was created and released in 1968. The famous V7 Sport 750cc of 1971 frame design by Lino Tonti became a new milestone and symbol of Moto Guzzi. After a few years, the company created an even bigger engine of 844cc for the popular 850 Le Mans. Even if things looked to be going well for the company as it continued to release new and more advanced models, Moto Guzzi started experiencing financial problems and was eventually bought by Alejandro de Tomaso in 1973.
In 2000, Ivano Beggio of Aprilia acquired Moto Guzzi for $65 million. Beggio had declared he was born “Guzzista,” and to be at the head of such a historic brand was the goal of his life. The intention was to keep Moto Guzzi’s headquarters in Mandello del Lario while sharing Aprilia’s technological capabilities and financial resources, but, unfortunately, Aprilia itself stumbled financially. Nonetheless, Aprilia managed to renovate the Mandello Moto Guzzi factory. In 2004, Piaggio, in turn, acquired Aprilia.
Over the years, the V-twin engine was developed further and it continues to be the base for Guzzi production. Displacement kept rising until 1400cc and 4-valve heads became standard. What separates Moto Guzzi from the competition is something that’s hard to explain, as Moto Guzzi just has something its competition lacks—soul. For better or worse, the creators behind Moto Guzzi have always been professionals, and what they create seems to be a “living” motorcycle.
Report by Mecum.com