1972 Moto Guzzi Eldorado

The Moto Guzzi Eldorado was the biggest weapon in a snout-to-snout battle with Harley-Davidson

| November/December 2005

  • Wixom fairings and saddlebags were popular extras on the Eldorado.
    Wixom fairings and saddlebags were popular extras on the Eldorado
    Ric Anderson & Richard Backus
  • Pinstriping — or spaghetti, as some riders called it — adds flavor to the Eldo's tank.
    Pinstriping — or "spaghetti," as some riders called it — adds flavor to the Eldo's tank.
    Ric Anderson & Richard Backus
  • Well, do ya, punk? Moto Guzzi importers successfully marketed the Eldorado to law enforcement agencies.
    Well, do ya, punk? Moto Guzzi importers successfully marketed the Eldorado to law enforcement agencies.
    Ric Anderson & Richard Backus
  • The Eldorado's 850cc V-twin was placed far forward in the chassis, optimizing legroom.
    The Eldorado's 850cc V-twin was placed far forward in the chassis, optimizing legroom.
    Ric Anderson & Richard Backus
  • Curtis Harper of Harper's Moto Guzzi says the Eldorado remains a willing and reliable runner after more than three decades on the road.
    Curtis Harper of Harper's Moto Guzzi says the Eldorado remains a willing and reliable runner after more than three decades on the road. Harper's father, Mike, a Guzzi dealer and restorer since the 1970s (www.harpermotoguzzi.com), says the company never made a better bike.
    Ric Anderson & Richard Backus
  • Moto Guzzi reportedly sold 5,000 Eldorados a year from 1972 to 1974, rivaling sales of the Harley FLH.
    Moto Guzzi reportedly sold 5,000 Eldorados a year from 1972 to 1974, rivaling sales of the Harley FLH.
    Photo courtesy of Harry Wong
  • A front disc brake became standard equipment in 1974.
    A front disc brake became standard equipment in 1974.
    Photo courtesy Harry Wong

  • Wixom fairings and saddlebags were popular extras on the Eldorado.
  • Pinstriping — or spaghetti, as some riders called it — adds flavor to the Eldo's tank.
  • Well, do ya, punk? Moto Guzzi importers successfully marketed the Eldorado to law enforcement agencies.
  • The Eldorado's 850cc V-twin was placed far forward in the chassis, optimizing legroom.
  • Curtis Harper of Harper's Moto Guzzi says the Eldorado remains a willing and reliable runner after more than three decades on the road.
  • Moto Guzzi reportedly sold 5,000 Eldorados a year from 1972 to 1974, rivaling sales of the Harley FLH.
  • A front disc brake became standard equipment in 1974.

Moto Guzzi Eldorado

Years produced: 1972-74
Total production: 15,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 64bhp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 116mph
Engine type: Four-stroke, overhead-valve V-twin
Weight (wet): 261kg (580lb)
Price then: $1,985
Price now: $7,500-$12,500

With a trail of hamburger that used to be his hide, retired California Highway Patrol trooper John Moraga bought and paid for the right to say whatever he wants about the Moto Guzzi Eldorado.

In 1974, on his 13th day of on-the-street training, Moraga was patrolling along the MacArthur Freeway in Oakland, Calif., when the driver of a pink 1959 Cadillac pulled out in front of him and jumped on the throttle like David Crosby on a Ho Ho. Moraga hit the siren, rolled the throttle and was somewhere north of 100mph when the bike went into a wobble that wrenched the handlebars from his grip and sent him sliding 317 feet along the pavement. He somehow avoided serious injury, but came home a few ounces lighter after the asphalt ate through his riding gear in spots.

So what’s his assessment of the bike that could have ended his life?

"I sure liked it," he says. "It was so clean and so smooth with that shaft drive; just a really nice bike. I just wish I hadn’t had such bad luck with it."



Moraga didn’t bump his head during the accident: There are several perfectly logical reasons he doesn’t hold a grudge against the Eldorado. For starters, he thinks his accident was an anomaly, possibly brought on by a rare factory defect or a bad spot of road — or a combination of both. And despite the accident, the Eldo earned Moraga’s respect by serving many of his colleagues faithfully for several years.

Another reason behind Moraga’s fondness for the machine is that it was a much-needed alternative to the Harley-Davidsons of the early Seventies.

Daniel Dube
1/23/2011 8:29:13 PM

I agree with alot of things in the above text. Moto Guzzi have made good motorcycles. I had a brand new 1979 SP and it served me good and was real practical too.







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