One of the most fun little Guzzi’s we’ve ridden in years just happens to be this 1966 Moto Guzzi Stornello, our entry in the Motogiro America. The Guzzi belongs to tiddler fan, collector and friend of the magazine Stewart Ingram. Back in 2007, Editor Backus and I flew into San Francisco the day before the Legend of the Motorcycle Concours d’Elegance in Half Moon Bay, Calif., and hopped the train to Ingrams’ house. Once there, he showed us his great collection of small Italian motorcycles and was kind enough to lend us the Stornello and a newer Ducati Monster to serve as our transportation around the Bay area for the weekend.
Though suffering at the time from a bad set of steering head bearings, the Stornello proved to be reliable and fun throughout the weekend, as Backus and I rode more than 300 miles up and down the California coast, covering the Legend show and also getting in a nice ride up Highway 1 to Point Reyes Station, Calif., and back the Sunday after the show. Though not a fast machine by any stretch of the imagination, the 125cc, four-stroke Stornello was a great little ride for the tight, narrow streets of San Francisco. We even made a few early-morning runs down the infamous “crookedest street in the world,” the one block section of Lombard Street that’s known for its red bricks and hairpin turns. The left-foot heel-toe shifter required a bit of extra brain-training to ride smoothly at first, but with a bit of practice, the tiddler became a fun, easy to ride bike with great charm and a lovely, slightly-worn patina. Backus fell in love with the bike and threatened to bring it back to Kansas with him, but sense prevailed, and we thanked Ingram and left the little bike at his place and flew home. Who could have guessed that the Stornello would also wind up being friend of the magazine Dave Miller’s Motogiro America ride more than a year later?
Miller, you might remember, teaches motorcycle restoration at City College in San Francisco. We highlighted his popular restoration classes in a story called “Making the Grade” in the July/August 2006 issue. Miller and Ingram are friends, and when Ingram offered up his Stornello to Dave as a ride for the upcoming Motogiro America, Dave jumped at the chance.
After freshening the top end of engine, attending to the steering-head bearings, and a small amount of fiddling and fettling, Miller has the bike all tuned up and ready to go, and is looking forward to the many miles of the Motogiro he’ll ride in the upcoming week aboard the Stornello. Though not perfect cosmetically, both Miller and Ingram agreed that it was best to restore the bike mechanically, but to leave it in its period paint, chrome and vinyl. That means if you get a chance to see any of the Rally next week, it will be easy to pick out Miller and our favorite Stornello. After all, it will look just like it does here in our photos! — Landon Hall