Tagged: 1950

1950 Moto Guzzi Astore for Sale!

1950 Moto Guzzi Astore R side

It’s been a banner week for vintage Moto Guzzi fans… If you missed it, I posted up a 1934 Moto Guzzi 500S yesterday. Today’s Astore or “Goshawk” was an update of the GTV, itself a development of the 500S, and was followed by the iconic and long-lived Falcone.

The Astore was produced until 1953 and featured an aluminum alloy cylinder head and barrel, enclosed rockers, and improved brakes. Also, note the upside-down telescopic front forks: how advanced! Like all Guzzi big singles, they were low-revving, hugely torquey machines that provided very reliable, accessible performance.

1950 Moto Guzzi Astore L Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1950 Moto Guzzi Astore for Sale

I purchased this Guzzi from the Estate of the gentleman who purchased the bike from George Disteel’s estate. Basically, George bought the bike (it entered CA in 1956 and the last registration expired in 1957), moth balled it – not sure if it was  chicken coop or not, then the next guy bought it at the Disteel Estate Sale in 1978- and kept it is his large collection until I bought it from his Estate Sale about 5 years ago. At first, I was excited to do a full restoration of the bike since it is in such incredible original condition and complete. Then as I was reviewing the old paperwork, I recognized the name George Disteel and thought “isn’t that the guy who went crazy and squirreled away Vincent Black Shadows, Two Guzzi’s and an Aston Martin in Chicken Coops on property he owned on the North Coast of California? As it turned out it was, then I even found photos of this bike from that era (I’ve included one and also a photo of George Disteel). 

I have another Astore, so I didn’t bother restoring this one, it really doesn’t need it and the history is much cooler to preserve (In my humble opinion).

Again, the bike is complete and Probably has next to zero miles on it, never been torn down. I listed 1000 miles as you must list some sort of mileage, but Guzzi’s didn’t start having Tach’s and Speedo’s until the 60’s so I have no idea. Based upon my knowledge of George Disteel and then the second owner, I really think this bike has not been ridden much if at all in it’s 60 or so years. I think it would love to be ridden though. Vintage Guzzi’s are pleasures to ride.

1950 Moto Guzzi Astore L Front

The seller mentions that “it would love to be ridden” but does not mention if it actually is rideable… The bike is cosmetically pretty rough as well: I personally prefer bikes and cars to be at least a little bit shiny, although I’m not a fan of overrestoring them. However, bikes in original condition are very desirable, and many would call for my head if I suggested a restoration of something in such original condition…

So I will not suggest that. As they say, “it’s only original once.”

At the very least, an old Guzzi should be made to run, so hopefully this one does, or can be made to do so without too much trouble.

Not much time left on the auction, so go take a look!


1950 Moto Guzzi Astore R side2

Reader’s Ride: Very Original 1950 Vincent Black Shadow for Sale

1950 Vincent Black Shadow R Side

The very name “Vincent Black Shadow” is mythic,  evocative.  Even if you’ve never actually seen a Vincent, you’ll probably picture one pretty accurately just from hearing the name.  Vincent twins are handsome beasts, in either Black Shadow or Rapide guise.  Big, but athletic.  Sporty, but relaxed about it, they have a timeless quality about them that’s especially shocking when you consider that this particular machine was built in 1950!  Looking at other machines of the era, with rigid frames, pre-unit construction, and tank-shifted, three-speed boxes, you’d be forgiven for thinking this bike was from the late 1960’s.

1950 Vincent Black Shadow Dash

Series B and C bikes didn’t even have a traditional frame, with the steering head bolted directly to the front cylinder and the rear suspension mounted to the gearbox, something not done on a production motorcycle until Ducati’s Panigale.  I’m not counting the Britten V1000 as a “production motorcycle…”

1950 Vincent Black Shadow R Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1950 Vincent Black Shadow for Sale

This motorcycle is a very nice 1950 Vincent Black Shadow.  I’ve owned it for about 11 years, and believe it to be very original including the paint.  I’ve ridden it a little over 3,000 miles during that time including at number of VOC and other vintage meets in the Western US and Canada. While it has been very carefully mechanically maintained, I have done everything I can to keep it cosmetically as original as possible…

…As you can see from the pics, the bike has a few period upgrades including OEM vented racing front brake plates, a period Koni front shock absorber (rebuilt), a Dave Hills “Tread Down” center stand and a very nice original Craven rack and panniers (see the pic of the panniers off the bike).  The front fork springs have also been replaced with a set of Vincent Works springs when I rebuilt the front fork a few years ago. It also comes with the factory tool kit (Jenbro spanners, etc. – see pics) and a Britton air pump (in need of rebuild).  The bike still retains its original paint and decals on the gas tank, Dunlop wheel rims, and frame/subframe.

1950 Vincent Black Shadow Headligh Bucket

Bidding is up over $70,000 and the reserve has not been met.

The external bits appear worn, and some even have surface rust.  But the seller has kept the important bits in tip-top shape and the patina is intentional.  It is, as they say, “only new once…” and this machine looks to be about as unmolested as you’d ever want.  I’ve certainly seen some beautiful Vincents, but this might be the most original.  And while perfectly restored machines may be prettier, all original machines, with some blemishes and faded paint, have an undeniable appeal to collectors.


1950 Vincent Black Shadow L Side

Don’t be an Ariel Square Four man.

Ariel got it’s name from a Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. Shakespeare’s Character was a airy spirit based on a messenger of the gods, Mercury. The company started with bicycles like a lot of other motorcycle manufacturers. One of the things that set them apart is that they made a motorized tricycle in 1898. I’d like to see one of those some day, sounds cool. In 1901 their first motorcycle was released it had a 211cc engine. They moved onto big singles and V-twins. Then in 1931 a 500cc square four was introduced. By the late 1930’s they had released a 1000cc square four. In 1953 they went to a four pipe square four. The bike you see here is a two pipe sq 4. A very unusual engine design with two cranks connected by a gear. This bike has a neat story of procurement from the seller. I like to here about bikes being taken down from the rafters and put back on the road.

1950 Ariel Square 4 For Sale on eBay

From the seller:

1950 Ariel Square 4 in excellent condition and with only 15,293 miles. Absolutely lovely bike, starts on the first kick, and rides perfectly. The 1000cc 4-cylinder engine is factory stock with no mods. Turn on the key, pull the choke, and starts easily on the first kick. Settles into a smooth quiet idle but has a very unique exhaust note that sounds like a V8 that snarls with revs above midrange (I’ve read that the sound is reminiscent of an Offenhauser racing engine). These are unusual engines; basically two vertical twins in one square block, with two separate crankshafts connected together with a large gear. Just rebuilt by Bancroft Vintage Motorworks; runs perfectly and without issue; no leaks, no noises. The 4-speed transmission shifts perfectly and the factory gearing allows relaxed 60 mph cruising while providing strong acceleration. Very pleasant bikes to ride; draws much interest at shows & bike night  events. The headlight (high & low beam), tail light, brake light, and horn all work properly and the speedometer is accurate. Perfect chrome gas tank with red & gold trim. Perfect black lacquer forks, frame, and fenders. The original decals from Ariel are still in place and the original dealer’s sticker (Johnson Motors on West Pico Blvd in Los Angeles, California) is still on the rear fender. There is no rust. Perfect original exhaust & mufflers. Perfect chrome spoke wheels fitted with Dunlop tires. Incredibly nice bike.

Note: I found this bike suspended from the ceiling over the bar in an Ohio restaurant, being used as a display. After much wrangling with the owner (who subsequently wanted my Velocette), I bought and brought it to Bancroft Vintage Motorworks since, although in perfect cosmetic condition, the bike had not been started or ridden in a few years. Mr. Bancroft disassembled & rebuilt the engine, repaired the electrical wiring, and went through the bike. A new battery, engine rebuild, carb rebuild, valve job, all new seals, all new fluids, and complete tune-up later, it started on the first kick and rode perfectly down the road. It now is fully road ready and will win trophies at virtually any show entered. It is still every bit a museum quality show bike but also a very capable rider as well. Gorgeous.

See additional full-screen size photos and other interesting vintage bikes at sportscargallery.com

This a very fine example of people trying new things to make their mark. The sq 4 has unique looks, sound and performance. I tend to like the unusual, it reminds me of a saying I heard somewhere, “if a bunch of people tell you it won’t work then your onto something special”. Sometimes they’re right and sometimes you leave a bookmark in history. Edward Turners 500cc OHC sq 4 left a mark that’s for sure.