1976 MOTO GUZZI 850 LE MANS 1
THIS MOTORCYCLE'S STORY
— By Tim Parker
Tonti, essentially a “frame man” made a plan to meet De Stefani’s goal of “200 kilometers per hour, 200 kilograms, and five speeds.”
That’s 125mph, 440lb and 5-speeds in American. His plan was the V7 Sport first seen in 1971. Sure it met the goal but it was also a looker, and the frame was masterful, low, stiff and with good ground clearance, and tight to the engine – but with the lower frame rails removable. Watchword: balance.
“While the specially prepared Guzzi 750s were roaring round and round the Monza speed bowl in October 1969, breaking the records Moto Guzzi had set in June, Chief Engineer Lino Tonti, Managing Director Romolo De Stefani, and President Dore Letto were discussing how Moto Guzzi could follow up the new records.”
MOTO GUZZI 850 LE MANS 1 DETAILS:
- VIN VE70805
- 31,450 miles
- First year 850 Le Mans, not designated as the first series until the advent of the second series.
- Excellent paint
- Factory open race exhaust
- Original exhaust included
- ZD factory close ratio gearbox
- Perfect rims and new tires
- Completely serviced
- NOS Bosch plug caps
- All original switchgear in perfect working order
- Progressive shocks
"Beautifully restored. A Le Mans 1 in this condition is now a very rare item indeed. Its early history is mysterious but its current condition makes up for all that’s missing. This one is magnificent."
A lightly-tuned 850 version of the Sport “was raced in the Bol d’Or 24 hour endurance race at Le Mans, France in September 1971 (know where I am going with this?). The Guzzi led the race for the first 10 hours but mechanical difficulties and a crash dropped the Sport back to third place…” The rest is history.
The 850 Le Mans “gave Guzzi a high profile in the world of sporting bikes”…for what “the Le Mans had going for it…was even more important than actual performance – the look of performance – and this gave it the edge to win the most important race of all, the race out of the showroom door.”
Café styling was all the rage in the mid-1970s – even Harley-Davidson got into the act – but no one did it better than Guzzi. Arguably, Guzzi had Norton, Laverda and Ducati – all café “influencers” - nailed with the Le Mans.
Study both front and side profiles.
Here we have a near perfect integrated design—balancing shape with color with utility. Both form and function in harmony. This example was restored by the second owner “a few years back” except for the race exhaust which was installed by the current (third) owner. There are compromises with any Le Mans restoration… one is that the original early seats would self-destruct. This one is the right shape but will now last forever, if looked after. Early finishes were not the best; this one, too – beautiful and deep - will last forever.
PHOTOS BY: JAMES TYLER REED
IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A SPECIFIC
DUCATI, MV AUGUSTA, LAVERDA, MOTO GUZZI FOR SALE
Every single bike I buy and sell, I personally go through—not someone else. I am the owner operator of my small business, and I take what I do very seriously. I work on the bikes, I ride the bikes.
If you are serious about buying a true collector piece from someone who not only has a passion for these bikes, but works on them, rides them, and collects them then call me. Jokingly people say to me, “these bikes don’t seem so rare as there are so many in your shop” well... I consider myself a custodian for these machines, they should go to people who will love, and appreciate them.