Tagged: 1955

Honorably Discharged: Ex-Military1955 Moto Guzzi Airone for Sale

1955 Moto Guzzi Airone L Side

For collectors and modern motorcyclists, the phrase “Italian motorcycle” conjures up images of sleek, exotic, motorcycles with shrieking engines and fragile beauty. But in the aftermath of World War II, there was a real need for cheap, reliable commuter motorcycles and Moto Guzzi, like many other manufacturers of the period, were there to provide practical transportation with the inevitable dash of Italian flair.

1955 Moto Guzzi Airone Engine

Moto Guzzis of the period were often named after birds, and the Airone or “Heron” makes for a great vintage ride today, with reliability and a broad spread of power from the 250cc four-stroke single that was surprisingly smooth, owing to the significant mass of the striking externally-mounted flywheel. Introduced in 1939 and produced until 1957, it’s also an incredibly long-lived model.

1955 Moto Guzzi Airone Bars

Famous for their reliability, many Guzzis were also used in police and military applications, and this particular bike appears to be one such machine.

From the original eBay listing: 1955 Moto Guzzi Airone for Sale

Very rare and well sorted 1955 Moto Guzzi Airone military model. This is a wonderful 250cc 4-stroke single-cylinder classic Italian motorcycle. It starts easily, idles well and runs strong.

This particular machine is totally stock, original and correct (including the military items – leg guards, luggage rack and more – which I have taken off but will go with the motorcycle to a new owner) other than the Mikuni carb and pod air filter, new battery, and replacement tires.

A few years ago, after a long search for an Airone, I purchased this machine out of long term storage. I spent time and money going through it mechanically – while leaving as much of the original cosmetics as possible – to get it to run well. I replaced the broken Dellorto carb with a new properly jetted Mikuni and sorted out the electrics and charging system. 

It is possible this is only Moto Guzzi military Airone in America – making it an unusual machine for collector or rider.

I replaced the badly damaged muffler with a correct one that looks right on this bike, installed a new clutch throwout bearing, a new battery and rewired the magneto kill switch to a small button on the handlebars. I added an in-line oil shut off valve to eliminate the notorious sumping issue. 

I unbolted the unnecessary military parts from the motorcycle to lesser the weight so I could compete with it in the Moto Giro USA, where it was a strong competitor. 

This classic Italian sport/touring machine features Clubman handlebars and Tomasselli-style levers (front brake and clutch) matched tool boxes and a handy center stand. Good usable tires with little wear, good battery, good charging system, light work, horn works, suspension works. 

1955 Moto Guzzi Airone Rear Suspension

Although these were relatively popular in Europe, very few made their way to the US, likely owing to the American proclivity for big-displacement vehicles suitable for crossing wide-open spaces. Ex-military machines can be a bit of a gamble, often having led hard lives. But Guzzi’s rugged construction is a definite asset here, and I really like the matte green paint and practical look of this bike.

-tad

1955 Moto Guzzi Airone R Side

The Quest for Speed: 1955 Triumph Salt Flat Racer

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer R Side

This very cool 1955 Triumph Salt Flats racer looks set to conquer the place that gave the later Bonneville its name. With its bare-metal, hot-rod style and immaculate preparation, it looks lean and stripped down to the bare essentials needed for speed on the flats.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Tank

Every year, speed junkies gather at the Bonneville Salt Flats, a 40 square mile expanse of flat ground in Utah. The site of a prehistoric lake, the water is long gone, dried up to leave nothing but a seemingly endless expanse of white salt where nothing can grow.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Rear

The endless plain has no trees, no plants, no animals: nothing to crash into as you head toward the “double-ton” and beyond. Aside from a notorious lack of traction, it’s the perfect place for folks trying to eke out just a last little bit of speed across the disorientingly featureless expanse of the Flats as salt strips paint from fairings and fenders.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Carbs Installed

There are many modern and vintage classes for bikes, cars, and trucks at The Flats, and you’ll see everything from stock vehicles with openings taped over for better aero all the way up to famous, purpose-built, cigar-shaped streamliners with multiple engines that look more like rocketships than they do motorcycles and cars.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer L Front

This example is far simpler, with a much more reasonable design brief: no front brake, bars down near the lower triple, a rigid rear, and just a thin sliver of padding for a seat, this purpose-built, unfaired machine is an elemental embodiment of the Quest for Speed.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer R Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1955 Triumph Pre-Unit Race Bike for Sale

Engine rebuild by Franz & Grubb in LA to be raced in Bonneville:
Robbins pistons, Amal GP carbs, Morris magneto, 750cc …
This engine kills and is ready to get you a record.
Frame: by FactoryMetal Works, stretched, lowered first-rate build, Ceriani front forks.
Custom gas tank, custom oil tank, custom seat, by Wrecked Metals
Tarozzi foot pegs and grips, high speed tire and rims, disk brakes, Excel rims, RoadRider front tire,
lots of details for engine available for serious buyer
This bike is one-of-a-kind custom Salt Flats racer ready for 2015.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Badge

There are 5 days left on the auction and the Reserve Not Met at about $4,200. It’s hard to price something like this, since it’s obviously not in any way original, and the bike is obviously good for only one thing: top-speed runs across wide-open spaces. Although maybe it could be converted for some type of vintage drag racing? It does look similar to bikes like the famous Yellow Peril that were designed for straight-line speed contests.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Carbs

The craftsmanship looks top-notch, with prep so clean it looks like you could eat off the surfaces, and the photography highlights the bike’s sculptural quality and elegant design. I particularly love that shot looking into the carburetor bellmouths.

What’s this worth? No idea. Do I want it? I don’t know what I’d do with it. Park it up and just look at it? Start my own quest for speed at Bonneville? Maybe.

Do I like it? I sure do.

-tad

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Transport

 

Rarer Than Rare: 1955 Vincent Black Prince Project

1955 Vincent Black Prince Project Engine 1

Ironically, while the styling of the Vincent Rapide and Black Shadow v-twins is now considered iconic, by 1954 it was starting to look dated to buyers of the period. So an update was needed to stimulate interest. Already one of the fastest bikes on the road, the Black Prince that followed was purely a functional and stylistic upgrade to the already stunningly advanced machine.

1955 Vincent Black Prince Project Bodywork 3

The design brief was “four-wheeled Bentley” and changes were made that would, theoretically at least, allow owners to ride their bikes to work in their natty three-piece suits.

How very John Steed.

1955 Vincent Black Prince Project Bodywork 2

To this end, a small fairing and leg shields were added, along with a conveniently hinged rear cowling that enclosed the rear wheel. A new center stand could be actuated by the rider while still on the bike, improving practicality. Top speed was down slightly from the leaner Rapide, but the bike otherwise performed like a Vincent.

1955 Vincent Black Prince Project Bodywork 1

Built between 1954 and 1955, the bike was not particularly successful, although this has made the bike correspondingly rare and increased values above that of even the famous Black Shadow…

This particular example comes in kit form, with some assembly required. Once finished, it should look something like this:

Vincent-1955-Black-Prince-2

From the original eBay listing: 1955 Vincent Black Prince Project for Sale

The motorcycle has undergone a complete Mike Parti engine rebuild and many other items are completed and ready for assembly. The motorcycle is a recent restoration project that the owner lost interest in bike and wantes to move it along in it’s current condition and state of affairs. 

The Prince is an all numbers matching motorcycle with the VOC documentation as well as an earlier British registration booklet. I also sent off all information to the leading authority on the D Series bikes in the UK and he has also authenticated the bike as well as sending us some past history on it. This bike was actually the eighth motorcycle built in 1955 and the fourth Black Prince off of the line. 

This bike was sent over to the US about twelve years ago all in one piece needing a full restoration. As mentioned, the motor just came out of Mike Parti’s shop and is completely done at the tune of $16k invested to make it right. The frame sections are restored as well as a number of sub components such as newly painted forks and the like. The wheels are restored and relaced new with stainless steel spokes. The fiberglass body components are in very good to excellent shape. They have not been painted as of yet. Since the work has been halted, I am now offering it up for sale in its current condition or it can be completed by us on a time and material basis contracted separate from the auction sale. 

With regard to the price of the bike, I see no down side at the reserve set, it is a very good deal especially when you compare it to the shoddy basket case Prince that recently sold at the Bonhams auction in the UK for $157k USD.

The listing also includes a comprehensive list of the included parts and their condition.

Bidding is active and up to $29,000 with two days left on the auction. Considering much of the heavy lifting appears to have been done, this could be a great opportunity for someone to get a serious investment at a relative bargain.

-tad

1955 Vincent Black Prince Project Engine 2