Moto Guzzi 500cc V8
With Phil Aynsley
The most surreal moment I’ve ever had photographing bikes came the day after I shot this legend of Grand Prix machinery – the Moto Guzzi 500cc V-8.
It is owned by a very keen Guzzi enthusiast in Mandello del Lario. I spent the entire afternoon with the bike and then, the following day, we visited another much, much larger Guzzi collection nearby.
After meeting the owner we started to tour the collection so I could get my head around which of the well over one hundred bikes I wanted to spend the next few days photographing.
Just about the first bikes we came to were another original V-8 and a modern replica, sitting side by side. I distinctly remember thinking “ I don’t need to shoot those, I shot one yesterday!”
The with the first bike racing the following year (a 350cc V-8 was later also built but not raced).
This particular 1957 example is one of the five built (plus a spare motor) and features the final engine specification which had many changes from the first unit including a multi-piece crankshaft, longer con-rods, camshaft profiles & larger carburettors amongst many other differences.
While not terribly successful on the track (only winning 3 races over 3 years) it has achieved legendary status.
The bike is in original condition apart from the cooling system now being pressurised.
The Moto Guzzi 500 V8 boasted 78hp at 12,500rpm, weighed in at 145kg and 230kph top speed.