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More than 40 Moto Guzzi motorcycles turned out at the weekend to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the marque, founded in 1921 by a couple of ex-Italian Air Force servicemen who, like Sir Henry Royce two decades before them, reckoned they could do a better job.
Nine decades later Moto Guzzi, now part of the giant Piaggio group, is still building very different motorcycles with a well-deserved reputation for long legs and longevity. At least two of the machines parked outside the Firemans' Arms in central Cape Town on Sunday had turned their clocks over twice and all were in daily use - Guzzis commonly inspire great loyalty in their riders.
The birthday party was hosted by the Italian Motorcycle Owners Club of Cape Town, some of whose members have owned their Moto Guzzis for more than 20 years.
They ranged from Kevin Kruger's 1968 (he thinks!) 757cc V7 to Rob McConnell's brand new 1064cc, eight-valve Griso, each one a transverse V-twin with shaft drive, faithful to Giulio Carcano's original answer to an 1960's Italian army requirement for a tough, go-anywhere military police machine.
Which was actually a pity in one way, because the company that built the first wind tunnel for motorcycles has also built a wonderful array of motorcycles other than twins, from jewel-like 125cc, four-stroke singles to the incomparable 500cc V8 GP machine that was timed at 300km/h on the Isle of Man TT course - 55 years ago!
But even Carcano's big Vee has appeared in a bewildering number of guises, from the dainty 500cc Monza of 1980, then and now the finest lady’s bike ever built, to the GS-rivalling Quota off-roader, so macho it's almost a caricature - and they were all there. As were their riders, from 18 to 80 years old.
There was even a replica Morgan three-wheeler sports car powered by a 944cc Moto Guzzi V-twin.
Guests pitched up on Ducatis, KTM's MV Agustas and one each from Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki - it's not often riders of mainstream Japanese motorcycles find themselves so decisively in the minority!
Inside the pub, they raised a glass to the memory of Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi, who made a dream come true back in 1921, before watching the World Superbike racing at Assen on the big screens, where Aprilia V4's - from the same Piaggio stable - acquitted themselves very credibly.
But it wasn't altogether surprising how many Guzzisti drifted back outside to join the little groups wandering from bike to bike, appreciating the finer points of the various models, just quietly celebrating ninety years of Moto Guzzi.
Harleys are bubblegum. Long live Guzzi and Agusta.
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