Moto Guzzi’s origins can be traced back to WWI, when a trio of motorcycle enthusiasts serving with the Italian Air Force hatched a plan to start a business: Giorgio Parodi would secure the finance, Carlo Guzzi would design the machine, and Giovanni Ravelli would race it. Sadly, Ravelli died in a flying accident soon after the war’s end, leaving Parodi and Guzzi to found what would become one of the most exalted of Italian marques at Mandello del Lario, close to the shores of Lake Como.
Carlo Guzzi’s first prototype motorcycle of 1919 was unconventional in so far as its single-cylinder engine was installed horizontally, and by the end of the 1930s the ‘flat single’ had established itself as a Guzzi hallmark. The prototype Guzzi was exceptionally advanced for its day: unitary construction of the 500cc engine and gearbox, over-square bore/stroke, geared primary drive, an overhead camshaft, and four valves per cylinder being just some of its salient features. However, the Normale (standard) model that entered production in 1921 was necessarily less ambitious, the most obvious difference being its engine’s inlet-over-exhaust valve arrangement, adopted to reduce costs.
Guzzi recommenced production post-WW2 with range of updated pre-war designs, which in the case of the 250cc Airone (heron), first introduced in 1939, meant it gained a telescopic front fork, larger diameter brakes, and an aluminium-alloy cylinder barrel and ‘head. In 1949 a Sport version became available; the original being renamed Turismo. Boasting a higher compression ratio and larger carburettor, the more powerful Sport offered a 73mph top speed and the ability to cruise at 60mph all day, and remained a top-seller well into the 1950s. ‘Robust Italian machine capable of very hard driving: remarkably light petrol consumption’ was how Motor Cycle magazine summed up the Airone Sport after testing one in 1949.
This Airone Sport carries competition numberplates, suggesting that it has been used on historic road events such as the Giro d’Italia and Milan-Taranto. Purchased for the vendor’s private collection some 30 years ago, the machine is presented in original un-restored condition and in working order, having been cared for by the owner’s in-house mechanic. There are no documents with this Lot.
Report by bonhams.com