Tagged: homologation

Road and Track: 1974 Laverda SFC 750 for Sale

1974 Laverda SFC R Side Front

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen a Laverda SFC for sale. They are some of the most desirable sportbikes of the 1970s, homologation specials that were quite literally race bikes with some road equipment tacked on. Basically: cut a hole in the fairing for an off-the-shelf headlight, bolt on a speedometer, and stick an awkwardly-angled taillight on the solo-tail section, complete with curved lower edge to accommodate a number-plate…

Voilà: instant road bike!

Of course, many never saw the road at all, and lights, signals, and other equipment were quickly boxed up to prep the bikes for race-duty. Or display.

1974 Laverda SFC L Side

Sold in limited numbers between 1971 and 1976, the Laverda SFC took its name from the enormous front drum brake seen on earlier models. SFC literally stands for Super Freni Competizione or basically, “super-braking race bike.” Later bikes like this one did feature dual discs, and I’m sure those stop very nicely but, like the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, there’s something about those huge aluminum drums found on early 70s Italian sport bikes… But from the seller’s listing, it looks like much more than just the brakes were updated on the later bikes…

1974 Laverda SFC L Clocks

The basic Laverda parallel twin made for a pretty good foundation for racing. It wasn’t particularly light, but the bike was stiff and very stable, ideal for endurance events. And the engine featured five main bearings for exemplary durability, as the bike in stock form was fairly under-stressed. Stuffed full of factory high-performance goodness, the SFC made 80hp while retaining the standard bike’s rock-solid handling.

1974 Laverda SFC L Side Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale

The example offered here is an excellent example of the US series 1974 Laverda 750 SFC and comes with a known and documented history. Although it has been slightly modified from original, with a smaller European taillight, Verlicchi twin cable throttle, and no turn signals and reflectors, the sporting soul remains intact.

The late 1950s and early 1960s was not a great time for Italian motorcycle manufacturers. As Italian industry was heavily protected and imports restricted, motorcycle manufacturers survived in a false world where most of their products were consumed by the domestic market. When domestic demand collapsed so did much of the Italian motorcycle industry. Laverda struggled during this period but Massimo Laverda saw a way out, and that was targeting the huge American market.

Massimo was a motorcycle enthusiast, already aware of the move to towards motorcycling as a means of fun and enjoyment instead of basic transportation and was convinced the future lay in large capacity, more sporting machines. Knowing he didn’t have the resources to develop an engine from the ground up, and not wanting to emulate obsolete British designs, Massimo looked at what Honda was doing. Honda released their 305cc CB77 parallel twin “Super Hawk” for 1961 and as this overhead camshaft unit construction engine with horizontally-split crankcases was already proving considerably reliable, Laverda essentially enlarged and strengthened the Honda engine, initially creating a 650, before releasing the 750 in 1969. In long distance endurance racing during 1969 and 1970 the 750 S and SF established Laverda’s reputation for robustness and exceptional all round performance and for 1971 Laverda created the 750 SFC (C for Competizione). The bright orange color scheme of the factory racers became an SFC trademark. Although it was always a limited edition model, even after 1973 when the factory stopped racing the 750 twin, the SFC continued, incorporating many of the developments learnt from three successful years of racing. The 750 SFC was thus a true racing machine, built to the highest standards, that could be ridden on the street and a limited edition replica of a successful factory racer. Few components were shared between the SFC and regular SF, and only in 1974 did production exceed 200 a year.

For 1974 Laverda released an updated 750 SFC, primarily for Italian 750cc production-based racing, one of the leading domestic racing categories. Success in 750 racing was seen as very important publicity and the updated 750 SFC differed considerably in design and concept to the earlier drum brake versions. It was now substantially different to the 750 SF and designed with 750 class production racing in mind rather than endurance racing. Incorporating many developments of the 1973 factory bikes, the 1974 750 SFC was one of the outstanding sporting machines of the era. With its low frame and sculptured looks the 1974 750 SFC was also a styling triumph. There was also a specific US version this year but while these North American examples were slightly different in equipment the engine and chassis specifications were the same as the European model.

1974 Laverda SFC Rearset

Just 549 of these were made over the short production run, making them very desirable. This example looks to be in excellent condition and is being offered up by a seller who’s featured regularly on these pages, as he often seems to have very rare and very interesting motorcycles available. There is still some time left on the auction and bidding is up north of $37,000 although the reserve has not been met which is no surprise, given the condition and rarity of this SFC.

-tad

1974 Laverda SFC R Side

Homologation Special: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC

1974 Laverda SFC L Side

So I generally hate branding on t-shirts: I’m not a big fan of paying for the privilege of advertising someone’s company. But I make an exception for vintage car and bike logo shirts, especially when they’re defunct manufacturers. My Laverda shirt starts conversations seemingly every time I wear it: random folks just walk up and ask me about it. Once, I was having lunch with my mother at a nice outdoor restaurant. The owner was making the rounds, stopping by to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves. When he got to our table, his face lit up, “Ah! My brother and I imported Laverdas back in the 70’s!”

1974 Laverda SFC R Front

He sat down and talked bikes for a good twenty minutes, which left my mom completely dumbfounded. “Does this kind of thing happen to you a lot?” Yes, yes it does: unlike Triumph or Ducati branded gear, which can be seen on both riders and non-riders from here to the moon, a Laverda shirt apparently says, “Yes, this person has good taste in motorcycles.”

1974 Laverda SFC R Engine

Now this particular Laverda is especially special, a true race bike for the road from an era when such things actually existed. You could literally take your SFC to a race track, pull off the lights and indicators, and expect to be competitive. It was an homologation special stuffed full of race-spec internals and produced in just enough numbers to make those parts eligible for racing. Developed from Laverda’s famously durable 750 parallel twin, it made between 70-80hp, depending on the year. Only 549 were ever produced, although replicas based on the lower-spec SF are fairly common.

1974 Laverda SFC L Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Laverda SFC for Sale

 

Up for auction is a genuine 1974 Laverda SFC. This is not a replica, but rather a well-restored genuine article, made to ride rather than show. It is listed on the Marnix SFC registery. The frame was re-galvanized rather than powder coated. The fiberglass tank has been professionally treated with an aircraft tank coating to deal with ethanol in modern fuels. The point ignition has been replaced with with a Sachse electronic ignition. A extended clutch activator arm has been installed. The engine and frame numbers match (17188). The bike has the original PHB dual carbs, and retains the original Borrani rims and magnesium hubs, re-laced with stainless spokes. The original Ceriani front fork has been rebuilt, as have the rear original Ceriani shocks. The original fairing mirror electronic ignition and bellmouths are included.  See photos of original 2 owner’s titles and SFC stamp on engine block

 

1974 Laverda SFC L Engine

While the SFC might technically be legal for road use, it’s not exactly happy there. It’s barely tamed, raucous and loud, with heavy controls and a stiff suspension, a burly, chest-thumping motorcycle. But snarling around on something this exciting and gloriously orange would be worth the pain you’d feel the next day…

1974 Laverda SFC R Rear Wheel

 

 

Many of these I’ve seen for sale come with the road equipment in a box, but with over 6,000 miles on the clock, this one’s seen some use and appears to have been set up to see more: that “extended clutch activator arm” the seller mentions is a popular way to avoid having your left hand fall off. That makes me smile: as rare and cool as these are, they were meant to be ridden on street or track.

1974 Laverda SFC Dash

 

 

With four days left on the auction and the Reserve Not Met at $40,000 this is well below what I’ve seen these sell for in the past. My only quibble is the somewhat bland original instruments. Put those things carefully in a box, fab up a simple dash to house a white Veglia tach, and go!

 

 

-tad

1974 Laverda SFC R Side