1949 Gilera Saturno Sport.
Like the BSA Gold Star in the U.K., in Italy the Gilera Saturno had a mixture of looks — especially its monolithic single-cylinder engine — performance and slightly mythical reputation that made it the model to aspire to own. And like the Gold Star, a genuine example is a treat to own and ride, if you can find or afford one. Here's a very short video demonstrating the Saturno's exahust note:
Designed by the talented mind of Giuseppe Salmaggi, the Saturno was inspired by the pre-war Gilera VTEGS 500cc “Otto Bulloni” yet was quite different due to its unit construction; Giuseppe Gilera wanted his name on a motorcycle that was more modern, lighter and faster than the Bulloni.
By 1940, six prototypes had been built for motorcycle racing, and race they did, winning various national events with the famous Gilera works rider Massimo Masserini at the controls. The war interrupted everything, but amazingly, by 1946 the Saturno was ready to go on sale as a street bike to the general population. Unfortunately its cost, equivalent to buying a small apartment, made it accessible to only a very few in a nation demolished by war. Even so, Carlo Perelli, editor of the famous Italian magazine Motociclismo, made it clear that the impact of the Saturno for Italian motorcycling was immediate: “The war surplus didn’t impress. The new generation of English and German machines were far away, almost unknown. The Moto Guzzi Falcone hadn’t yet been born. The Saturno reigned supreme,” Perelli said. The 1949 Gilera Saturno may possibly represent the zenith of post-war design and attitude in Italian motorcycles in a way no other motorcycle does. Here is a photo-movie featuring vintage photos of the Gilera Saturno:
Read more about the motorcycles mentioned in this article:
• 1949 Gilera Saturno Sport
• 1963 Moto Guzzi Falcone Sport