1981 Moto Guzzi Le Mans 3 Crated By Mecum

It doesn’t get any more factory original than in the crate, so this 1981 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans III is the ultimate in preservation. While the Musee L’Épopée de la Moto Collection features several machines in as-delivered to dealers condition and never uncrated, this Le Mans III is an exceptional machine to begin with as it was the comeback to a proper factory café racer after the whole motorcycle industry was forced to deal with noise, environmental and safety regulations in the U.S. market starting in 1974.

The old open-throated, mesh-screen carburetor-covered nominal “muffler” designs had to go, and factories had to get over it and find the performance they had lost in civilizing their machines. Time has since proven that outrageous power is possible without outrageous noise, although, in the late 1970s, the Italians needed time to sort that out. The original Moto Guzzi Le Mans of 1976 was an all-time classic factory café racer and a pinnacle of 1970s Italian design. Alejandro de Tomaso was in control of Moto Guzzi from the mid-1970s, and he evolved the classic Le Mans into a MkII version in 1978, which incorporated clunky design features from the SP1000 tourer and lost some of the sleek café racer spirit of the original. Moto Guzzi was back on form in 1981 with the 850 Le Mans III, as the styling and performance had been sharpened up, making a new classic with a 1980s vibe: harder edges and a return to the café racer spirit. The Le Mans III had 80 design changes from the MkII from the engine and gearbox to the suspension and styling, and it was an altogether improved machine that was faster, more attractive and handled better. It was another classic from Mandello del Lario, and, clearly, someone knew it in 1981, choosing to keep this machine in its original crate for posterity and to preserve what was sure to be a landmark machine.


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