100 years of the Eagle

Moto Guzzi celebrates 100 years of Italian motorcycle excellence

Motoring 21 Jun 2021

Racer Keith Campbell rides a Moto Guzzi in 1957
Moto Guzzi 1969 V7 Ambassador
Moto Guzzi 1971 V7 Sport

There are motorbikes, and then there are Moto Guzzis. In these days of insta(nt) global trends, it’s easy to forget that there are iconic brands that have been around for decades. Ten decades, to be precise. Moto Guzzi is one of the best examples of ‘Made in Italy’, and balances its heritage with industrial design, technical innovation and riding pleasure – a combination that has attracted many fans, including Brits, actor Ewan McGregor and industrial designer Tom Dixon. Afficionados are known as “Guzzisti”.

Moto Guzzi at 24-Hour Le Mans in 1972
Moto Guzzi at 24-Hour Le Mans in 1972

Launched in Mandello Del Lario, Northern Italy, in 1921, the Eagle with spread wings logo was chosen as a tribute to one of the three founders, a pilot who had died in an air crash in 1919, the year after WWI ended. The three friends who had conceived of starting a motorcycle brand – Carlo Guzzi, Giorgio Parodi and Giovanni Ravelli – served together in the Italian Air Corps (Corpo Aeronautico Militare). Parodi and Ravelli were pilots (it was Ravelli who would not live to see the venture become a reality), while Guzzi was a mechanic.

Now celebrating its centenary, Moto Guzzi is the oldest European motorcycle manufacturer that has been in production continuously. In that time there have been many notable achievements: the brand’s wind tunnel was the first in the world in the motorcycling segment, and it was there that designer Giulio Cesare Carcano created the 285km/hour Otto Cilindri (in 1955), a futuristic metal bullet that would not have looked out of place in those early Bond movies.

The Moto Guzzi V85 TT Centenario: £11,400 RRP and Moto Guzzi V7 Stone Centenario, £8,200 RRP
The Moto Guzzi V85 TT Centenario: £11,400 RRP and Moto Guzzi V7 Stone Centenario, £8,200 RRP

But if the ’40s and ’50s were about world speed titles, in the late ’60s Moto Guzzi launched an air cooled 90 V-twin engine destined to become the very symbol of the manufacturer from Mandello through legendary models like the V7 Special, V7 Sport, California and Le Mans.

The V7 café racer is one of the models still in production today and it looks as good as ever. Most importantly though, it’s a great ride and has enough technology to keep you safe while you cruise stylishly through the Tuscan countryside. Or Hackney.

To celebrate its centenary, Moto Guzzi has launched two special limited editions, badged “Centenario”. A celebratory livery on a V7 and V85 TT (a touring model) with an aesthetic that pays homage to the 8-cylinder 500 Bialbero of 1955 has a satin-finished metal fuel tank, green fairing, leather seat and a specifically crafted 100Y Moto Guzzi logo for a golden finish.