During the First World War three young friends serving in the Italian Servizio Aeronautico dreamed of starting a motorcycle company after the war.
Carlo Guzzi would engineer the bikes, Gorgio Parodi (the son of wealthy Genovese ship-owners) would finance the venture, and Giovanni Ravelli (already a famous pilot and motorcycle racer) would promote the bikes with his racing prowess.
Sadly Ravelli was killed in a plane crash just a few days after the Armistice but Guzzi and Parodi pressed on, adopting as their logo Ravelli's squadron emblem, the eagle that you see on every Moto Guzzi to this day.
They set up shop on 15 March 1921 in Mandello del Lario, on the shores of Lake Como, and Guzzi designed their first machine, a conservative 500cc single called the Normale (Standard), which went into production that same year. But the plan was always to go racing, and a string of innovative and successful Grand Prix bikes followed, including a 350cc flat single that beat more powerful multi-cylinder machines by virtue of its extreme light weight and agility, and, in 1955, the unforgettable 500cc V8.
During this period Guzzi even built the first wind tunnel for motorcycles.