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1974 Aermacchi RR350

The history of Harley Davidson and Italian Motorcycle companies is a strange and repeated story. First in the 1960’s and 70’s with Aermacchi and later with MV Agusta, the Milwaukee Company dated a nice Italian girl. The first time around riders in America were lucky enough to get a taste of Italian racing bikes, the second time around not so much. This Aermacchi RR350 offered on eBay now is one such first round Italian racer in Milwaukee Orange.

 From the seller

HARLEY DAVIDSON BADGED,AERMACCHI FACTORY GRAN PRIX ROADRACER. FIRST YEAR, BUILT FOR THREE YEARS ONLY, AND APPROX. 25 WERE BUILT IN THOSE THREE YEARS.

 

When Harley Davidson bought a stake in Aermacchi in the early 1960’s they were looking for a ready built motorcycle that they could sell to Americans. They were hoping to expand a customer base, looking to sell to people that were looking for a sexy, fast, well handling sport bike. Something completely different. This 350RR was not something that you would find in a HD showroom next to the big bagger’s, but it was something offered to the privateer who wanted to go racing on the weekends.

From the seller

FACTORY BUILT, WATER COOLED, TWIN CYLINDER, 2-STROKE, GRAN PRIX RACER, WHICH IS THE ONLY TIME HARLEY HAD EVER HAD THEIR NAME ON THE WINNING PODIUM IN GP EVENTS WAS WITH THIS MACHINE. MANY MORE OF THE RR250’S WERE BUILT, APPROX. 250 UNITS, WHICH WAS ALSO A RACE WINNER FOR HARLEY.

  THIS MACHINE WAS RESTORED A NUMBER OF YEARS BACK OVER INEUROPE, MACHINE IS MATCHING #’S-MOTOR# 350/2C/2T 10027, AND SAME ON THE FRAME. CASE #’S MATCHING #2, AND #20.CERIANI FRONT END, DELORTO CARBS,MENANICLIPON’S,SCARAB FRONT DISK BRAKES,BORRANI 18″ REAR, AKRONT 18″ FRONT.

At first the racing bikes offered from Aermacchi were small displacement 4-strokes, but with the swing in the late 60’s to 2-stroke power, the factory 4’s became screaming 2’s. These later, water cooled bikes were able to generate 70bhp at 11,400rpm. This was enough power to push European rider Renzo Pasolini to within points of the 1972 250cc World Championship, and 3rd in the 350cc.  

In 1974 Harley took complete ownership of Aermacchi and for a few short years Harley dealerships had to stock both SAE and Metric tools and parts to service this Italian child. AMA racing did offer a small displacement category, so 250RR did see action on race tracks across America, but the 350RR did not appear to have a class to show off here in the States, so few made the trip from Italy.

With the combined history of Harley Davidson and Aermacchi, any of these Italians would be collectible. Add to that the water cooled 2-stroke power and the imprint that this technology put on racing around the world and you have a bike that interest grows. I will be watching to see where this bike ends up.BB

 

  1. Brian says:

    Tell us more!

  2. Dave says:

    Oh- it wasn’t mine or anything. That was back in the good old days when you could stand on a barrel marker on the inside of turn one to take photos and no one would bother you….. It was at Palm Beach International Raceway back in March 1976 I believe. The guy’s name was Bigowski or Bigelow or something. The little HD had plenty of scoot and finished second to one of the newest Yamahas. It was the best race of the day as I recall.

  3. CBRian1K says:

    That wouldn’t be Steve Biganski would it?

  4. Dave says:

    Yeah- I think that was him. It was a long time ago. I think the winner on the Yamaha was John Long from Miami.

  5. bobble says:

    As a side note, I thoght I would mention also that I had read a while ago that in the mid-70’s, H-D started discussions with Moto Morini about buying them out, but M-M at the time wasn’t too keen on the styling direction that H-D wanted them to go.

    “Bayer’s commitment to Moto Morini hardly seems commensurate with his yearly sales total of 200 units through 35 dealers. But he has more than his wallet at stake. He has pride. Moto Morini has become his motorcycle. When he heard that Harley-Davidson was attempting to buy Morini out and sell the little vee-twins as scaled-down Harleys, Bayer flew to Italy immediately. There, Mrs. Bartolini, the daughter of company founder Alfonso Morini and now the owner, assured Bayer that she would never give up the company’s name.”

    Excerpt from – http://www.motorcyclespecs.co.za/model/moto%20morini/moto_morini_500gt%2077.htm

    Of course, a few years later (the mid-80’s), M-M was offering their own cruiser-style bike, the Excalibur.

  6. CBRian1K says:

    That is a really good picture of Steve, thanks for posting it. Currently he is the owner of Extreme Lean Motorsports where he is basically a two stroke engine building and tuning God.

  7. Dave says:

    Where is ELM located? I’ve still got an H2…..

  8. CBRian1K says:

    Sorry, lost the exact address, IRRC it’s in Lawndale Calif.
    Once upon a time I was looking into getting an RD400 done. Never panned out though. Had to sell it.
    Cheers.