July 1981, I just happened to be driving down a two lane road near my parents' home when I saw it ...the strangest looking, almost Harley type of a two wheeler sitting out near the road with a for sale sign on it. I looked twice and realized it was a Moto Guzzi, and an old one at that! I had first been introduced to Guzzi's in 1976 after graduating from high school and landing a gas station job. The manager there owned a 1975 Eldorado - I fell in love with that machine immediately! I vowed one day I'd own my own Guzzi! So there it was in all its glory...for sale. I drove around the block and came back by, and knew that this machine would be mine...but how? I already owned a Honda 350 and had a car. Living with my parents and fresh out of school, I didn't have any cash to play with.
Within a few days the bike disappeared, and I was crushed! How could I have let this bike get away? I told my manager about the bike, and he said it probably was sold as they are pretty hard to find in Ohio, so I sadly continued riding the Honda, wishing every day it had more guts and clattered like my boss's bike. As fate would have it, the following July I was riding the Honda only three blocks away from where I had originally seen the bike of my dreams, and there it was...again! Parked beside a garage in sad repair, but totally intact - sat my bike. The owner of the house was in the back yard, so I turned around instantly and rode up to her fence and pulled off my helmet and asked about the old bike sitting out back. She said it was hers, but it use to belong to her ex-husband who owed her for back child support on their 16 year old son. The only thing he had of any value was the bike, which he gave to her. She had no interest in it nor a place to store it - but if I wanted to buy it, she wanted $500 bucks for it...cash.
I didn't have the cash, but I wanted that bike really bad. I told her I'd have someone who knows those bikes come and look it over later that day, and she agreed to be home. I broke the speed limit rushing to the gas station to see if my boss would check out the bike. The owner's son put the battery on a charger while I was gone, so it would turn over when we came back later. My boss was more than happy to check out this "find" of mine.
The original owner had taken the transmission apart the previous summer and put the selector inner body with the plungers, pawls and springs in backwards, so the gearbox was not working properly, making the bike take off in 3rd gear instead of first. My boss, Stanley Benton, tried his best to get the bike to take off, but it would chug and die each time. Finally, he really revved it up and dumped the clutch, and he bailed off as the bike lurched upwards and spilled over on its side. The woman owner realized her ex had done it to her again and left her holding a worthless two wheeler. Stan regained his composure and told the woman that the motorcycle wasn't safe and was not worth any amount of money in the condition it was in. This prompted her to ask me if I had an offer of any kind. I offered her a pretty nice Honda 350 with low mileage, electric horns, roll bars, padded sissy bar, and a handlebar mounted windshield, which she could sell for what she wanted or more. Her teenage son walked up during the commotion and reminded his mother he needed transportation to summer school, and that Honda would do nicely!
I pushed the 1972 750 Ambassador to my parents' garage four blocks away where my dad stood looking on. "Are you really sure about this, Sis?" he asked. "As sure as I have ever been about anything, Dad," I replied. My brother helped me put her back together properly, and the rest is history. Eighteen years later, I still own that Moto Guzzi, and it purrs like a kitten! It still clanks like a Guzzi but each spring after its long winter's nap, I put the key in and it cranks over...slowly at first...choke, choke, crank, crank, crank...purrrrr.
Why haven't I bought a new one? Why should I when my reliable old friend awaits me in the garage each morning...just waiting for another piece of highway to gobble up.
And Stanley, he passed away last year, his widow sold his bike for $500...maybe in another eighteen years someone else will be typing a letter to you.