Saturday, September 25, 2010

I blame you, Carlo Guzzi!

Poor Carlo Guzzi has been resting in his grave since 1964, but he's the one who is responsible for me taking up diecast collecting. The story is a simple one. In May this year, after quite a long break, I returned to motorcycling, buying a Moto Guzzi V7 Classic 2009 model. Then I thought it would be nice to have a diecast model of the V7's grandfather Guzzi, also named V7. I liked the model so much I bought two more, and then some cars, and now look where I am. Blogging about diecast cars and bikes. Rest in peace Carlo, but you started it!

Here's the Starline 1:24 model of the V7 Special
sitting on the rocker cover of my V7 Classic.

And here's the V7 Classic. 750cc, retro-styled and
a very nice bike to ride. Lovely exhaust note, too.
I've ridden several Guzzis over the years, but
never owned one, so it was top of my list of bikes
to buy if and when I started riding again.

This is the Starline model of Grandpappy. This original bike, the V7 Special,
first appeared as a 750cc tourer in 1969. I wanted one even back then, but
as a poor, snotty schoolboy it was way out of my league.
These Starline models are nicely done. The company has been good to deal
with. You can find them online at They specialise
in just a few bike and car makers. Very much the small specialist outfit. 
If I won the lottery and could get my hands on any bike I wanted, I'd get
a real one of these – the Moto Guzzi Falcone, a 500 single. In the
meantime, I'm happy to just have a 1:24 Starline model of one.
I've always like fishtail exhaust pipes, so that's a bonus, and it is a Carlo
Guzzi bike. But the other great thing about Falcones is the cool videos
they have inspired. And so it's video time folks, courtesy of You Tube.

And the simple pleasures of a Guzzi Falcone idling.

But wait, there's one more (bike, not a video), a great bike that is forced to live in the shadow of a famous failure of a big, noisy brother.

This is the 350cc Moto Guzzi GP bike which won the World Championship
in 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957 (in that last year with Aussie Keith
Campbell in the saddle). A simple little single cylinder bike, the genius
of Carlo Guzzi is very much inside every nut and bolt.
This is of course another 1:24 Starline model, and they call it the Bialbero,
a name I hadn't heard of previously. While these little bikes' top speed
was varied to suit the gearing of each circuit, at the fastest circuit in Spa
Francorchamps in Belgium, they reached 140mph (225km/h), an amazing
speed for a humble little 350cc horizontal single-cylinder four-stroke.
Here's the 350 in action at the time. And this gives me the perfect segue
to introduce its famous big brother. I found this photo above of the
350 on Google Images, and at several other blogs and websites the same
mistake is repeated: they all say this is the Moto Guzzi 500 V8 in action.
No it's not, it's the 350. Check the exhaust pipe on this bike, and the model above.
The same. Check the V8 below, in the Moto Guzzi museum.

The 500V8's exhaust plumbing is reminscent of spaghetti, but there's no
way a single long pipe is poking out the bottom of this machine!
So it's the fate of the very successful little Moto Guzzi 350 single to live in the shadow of the 500V8, which captured hearts and imaginations but very few prizes. Starline Models of course has a 500V8 in its 1:24 model lineup, but I didn't order one. I'm sticking with my little mate the 350. It'll do me.

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