Moto Guzzi is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Based in Mandello del Lario in Lecco, Lombardy since 1921, it is the longest-running motorcycle manufacturer currently in production, at 101 years old.
The company was formed by Giorgio Parodi, Giovanni Ravelli and Carlo Guzzi during the First Wold War. The three friends were serving in the Corpo Aeronautico Militare (CAM, the Italian Air Corp) when they decided to develop a motorcycle manufacture business. All three were a perfect fit for forming a company: Parodi would provide the finance, Ravelli the motorcycle prowess and Guzzi the engineering know-how.
However, Ravelli died in a tragic airline accident days before the venture was due to start. The other two continued with the business but decided to commemorate Ravelli with the eagle’s wings in the company logo.
The company’s initial first successes were the 8HP Normale, the 1928 Guzzi GT, and the 1939 Airone 250 models, the latter which became Italy’s most popular medium capacity motorcycle for fifteen years.
After Second World War, the Guzzino 65 model became the best-selling model in Italy for ten years.
Although Moto Guzzi withdrew from providing motorcycles for motorsports in 1957, during their foray into the sport they managed to gain accolades including won 3,329 official races, 14 Grand Prix world championships and 11 Isle of Man TT wins.
A large part of the sales and sporting success gained by the company by the mid-1960s was to do with Carlo Guzzi’s original designs of motorcycles with horizontal single cylinder engines.
However, around this time the company started to falter. Carlo Guzzi retired aged 72 in 1961, while Giorgio Parodi had passed away in 1955. Just three years after Guzzi’s retirement, the business had entered into a full-blown financial crisis. In 1966, the company had to be liquidated.
The liquidators, Italian building society IMI, formed a company called SEIMM (Societa Esercizio Industrie Moto Meccaniche) who purchased Moto Guzzi outright in 1967. The company’s resurgence to a balanced account sheet in the following years was down to their focus on lightweight mopeds, plus the development of the 90° V twin engine.
Despite the engine not originally being designed by Guzzi, the engine configuration became one of the company’s biggest symbols.
In 1973, Argentinian industrialist Alejandro de Tomaso purchased the controlling body SEIMM and thus, became the owner of Guzzi. Despite de Tomaso not being able to invest well in the company, Guzzi returned to healthy profitability under de Tomaso’s stewardship.
During these 27 years of ownership, Guzzi produced the popular 850 Le Mans superbike, the innovative ‘Integrated Braking System’ and four-valve versions of small block engines.
Moto Guzzi changed hands in 2000, then again in 2004 by vehicle manufacturer Piaggio. Nowadays, Moto Guzzi still thrives in the same building from which they first launched in 1921. Despite having changed ownership and been through many hardships, the company remain as innovative as ever today.