1978 Moto Guzzi Le Mans

Bill Haylock of Bike magazine wrote a glowing review of Moto Guzzi’s Le Mans in the August 1976 issue of the magazine: “The Le Mans just looks so goddam beautiful that if I was rich enough, I’d buy two of them—one to ride and one just to stand in the living room to admire as an objet d’art. It represents the ultimate in motorcycle styling as an art form—the synthesis between engineering and aesthetics in which the Italians are supreme.”

An engine design that originated in the late 1940s, Moto Guzzi’s venerable 90-degree V-twin is still around today powering the latest generation of superbikes from Mandello del Lario. The first motorcycle to use this remarkable engine, the 703cc V7, appeared in the late 1960s. Enlargement to 757cc soon followed, but the first sports model, the V7S, was of 748cc capacity. Up to that point it was an acquired taste enjoyed by a discerning minority, the big Guzzi suddenly began capturing the imagination of a wider public when the 850cc Le Mans sports roadster burst on the scene in 1976. Described by Bike magazine as “the sleekest, horniest thing you’ve ever seen on two wheels,” the sensational Le Mans looked like it was doing 100mph while stationary and, on the open road, delivered 130-plus MPH performance. It worked well on the racetrack too, with Le Mans-mounted Roy Armstrong emerging as overall winner at the end of the 1977 Avon Production Championship. In 1978, the model was revamped as the Le Mans II, featuring a more elaborate Spada-style fairing. Without doubt one of the definitive superbikes of the 1970s, the Moto Guzzi Le Mans is today regarded as highly collectible.

A 20th-century motorcycling icon, this 1978 Moto Guzzi Le Mans was purchased about 5 years ago by the present owner, who then restored the bike before placing it on static display. Recently re-commissioned and serviced by LA’s Glory Motorworks, the bike runs exceptionally well. It starts easily, idles smoothly and has strong power when you give the throttle a healthy twist. Brakes and suspension all work perfectly, as do all electrical systems.