Defining the Format: 1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador

The Moto Guzzi Ambassador story goes back to the early 1960s when Guzzi first started to work out a V-twin for the Italian police.


| January/February 2015



1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador

1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador

Photo by Doug Mitchel

1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador
Claimed power: 60hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 100mph (period test)
Engine: 757.5cc air-cooled OHV 90-degree V-twin, 83mm x 70mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet, w/ half tank of fuel): 559lb (254kg)
Fuel capacity/MPG: 5.84 gal (22ltr)/40-50mpg
Price then/now: $1,694/$3,000-$9,000

When Moto Guzzi introduced its first production motorcycle in 1921 it was powered by a horizontally mounted, 498cc overhead valve single cylinder. It was a format that defined Moto Guzzi engines for decades to come, but in 1966 the Italian company announced a new 700cc V-twin, introducing a new format that continues to define Moto Guzzi today.

The Ambassador story goes back to the early 1960s, when Moto Guzzi first started to work out a V-twin for the Italian police. When brothers Joe and Mike Berliner of Berliner Motor Corporation in New Jersey (the importers for Ducati and Moto Guzzi, among other European brands) got wind of the new V-twin they immediately pushed Moto Guzzi to put it into production. The first model, the 704cc V7, went into production in early 1967. Cracking the nut of devout Harley-Davidson riders was a challenge in the early days, and while the new V7 might not have drawn loyal Harley fans, it did provide other motorcycle enthusiasts with a more exotic option.

Following closely on the heels of the V7, the larger capacity Ambassador V750 was introduced in 1969. It embodied several traits of its predecessor, and new features added to the bike’s U.S. appeal. And helping to augment sales, numerous speed records were gained with the new Moto Guzzi machines. In June of 1969, Remo Venturi took his Guzzi to a production class speed record as he hit 145mph on the fabled Monza circuit. A few months later, in October, Guzzi riders broke the 1,000-kilometer and 6-hour records, turning in average speeds of 125.5mph and 125.3mph, respectively.

Time to go touring

The U.S. motorcycling press liked the new Ambassador, helping to propel sales of the marque to a production record of just more than 46,400 units in 1971. That’s especially impressive considering that Honda released its legendary CB750 Four in 1969. Yet the Guzzi was a very different machine from the Honda, with a different rider in mind. Designed as a long-distance touring model, the Ambassador was the first-ever production motorcycle to feature electric starting only, with no kick lever even offered. A touring machine typically featured better seating, plus handlebars that reached back to the rider instead of requiring the rider to reach forward, creature comforts for extended hours or days in the saddle. The Ambassador had all of those traits, making it a terrific machine for the open road.

To satisfy the demands of long range riders, the Ambassador carried nearly 6 gallons of fuel in its enormous tank, a significant increase from the V7’s 4.5 gallons. Beneath the fuel tank, the 90-degree V-twin now displaced 757.5cc and produced a claimed 60 horsepower, a considerable bump over the 50 horsepower V7. A pair of 29mm Dell’Orto carburetors fed the overhead valve engine, with shifting through a 4-speed gearbox.





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