Benelli and Moto Guzzi ‘254’ 250 four-cylinders – With Phil Aynsley
A classic example of badge-engineering was the introduction of the Benelli and Moto Guzzi 254 pair of bikes.
Conceived by Alejandro de Tomaso as sophisticated machines that could take advantage of the Italian tax concessions for under 250cc motorcycles, the 254 (250 4 cylinder) was first shown at the Milan Show in 1975.
The Lino Tonti design was original and not derived from the Benelli 500/4 or 750/6, but from the existing 125cc twin. The actual capacity was 231cc and four 18mm DellOrto carburettors were fitted.
The use of plastic bodywork kept the dry weight down to 117kg and a uncluttered look was achieved by housing the instruments in the tank, along with the front brake master cylinder. Unfortunately this meant that tank held only 8.5 litres.
Originally the Benelli was called the 250 Quattro and was aimed at the sportier rider, while the Moto Guzzi was called the 254 and had a more touring bent. However as the years went by these designations became somewhat interchangeable.
Sales never lived up to expectations and the Guzzi version ceased production in 1981 (although it was still available for several years afterwards). The Benelli 254 lasted until 1984, with a 304cc version introduced in 1983.
Apart from the increase in capacity, an open, double cradle frame was employed. The instruments were mounted conventionally. The 304 ceased production in 1986 (with new stock continuing to be sold until the early ‘90s).
The 254 made 27.8hp at 10,500rpm and had a top speed of 150km/h. The 304 made 29hp. The Guzzi photographed here is an original, unrestored 1977 model. The Benelli is from 1983.