2011 marks Moto Guzzi’s 90th year building motorcycles, the oldest European motorcycle manufacturer in nearly continuous (there have been a few brief interruptions) operation. Moto Guzzi’s first production machine was the 500cc Normale. Based on a four-valve OHC prototype, the production OHV Normale produced 8 horsepower from its horizontal single cylinder. Intelligently designed and well made, it was utterly reliable and delivered solid performance. Those attributes made it surprisingly competitive even in standard form (it was also hugely successful, with more than 2,000 built by 1923) and a series of factory specials like the Condor, the predecessor to our featured Dondolino, proved Moto Guzzi’s engineering mettle time and again.
Although the Normale’s layout would define Moto Guzzi for decades to come, the 1950s saw a flurry of new designs, including racing inline fours and the legendary 500cc Otto Cilindri. Moto Guzzi also produced a slew of scooters and small-displacement singles, but then in 1966 came the bike that changed everything, the V7. Using a 703cc 90-degree V-twin (with roots in a three-wheel utility truck and a Fiat car!), the V7 set a path that Moto Guzzi continues to follow today, with a line of V-twin motorcycles that includes the V7 Classic and the recently released V7 Racer, machines directly inspired by Moto Guzzi’s iconic V7 Sport of the early 1970s. Buon Compleanno!
It started here: 1921 Normale.