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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, a terrific...

Pick of the Day: 1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, a terrific superbike bargain

The Italian beauty would be a great way to save on gas while having a blast

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With fuel prices in most places over $5 per gallon and Spring right around the corner, I thought it might be a good idea to find a vehicle on our site that is both an iconic classic as well as one that is economical. This led me to search for vehicles having 2 wheels instead of the usual 4.

After going through a number of different ads for classic motorcycles on the ClassicCars.com site, I came across a Pick of the Day that has a storied history, is easy to maintain, and offered for a reasonable price: a 1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans Mk 1.

guzzi, Pick of the Day: 1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, a terrific superbike bargain, ClassicCars.com Journal

The Moto Guzzi Le Mans, designed by the legendary Guzzi designer Lino Tonti based on a very successful customer-built racing bike,  was first shown to the public at the 1975 Milan Motorshow. Tonti saw that BMW had succeeded with the R90S, and what was coming in motorcycling trends both on the track and in the showroom, and thought that the Le Mans would be the ideal design.

When it was reviewed by journalists at the time, the Guzzi was hailed as a masterpiece, with Bike magazine stating that “the Le Mans just looks so goddam beautiful that if I was rich enough, I’d buy two with one to ride and one just to stand in the living room to admire as an object d’art.”

guzzi

The Phoenix-based dealer advertising  this 1978 Le Mans on ClassicCars.com describes it as a perfectly restored example done by David Brown of DB Cycles in Lima, NY. The work was completed in 2016 and the Guzzi currently shows 14,705 miles on the odometer, with just a handful of miles covered since its restoration. 

The Le Mans 1 is one of the top first-generation sporting motorcycles of the 1970s and spanned a series of Tonti frame Guzzi Le Mans models that ran all the way up to 1993. The most valuable and desirable of the entire series has always been the Le Mans 1.

guzzi, Pick of the Day: 1978 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans, a terrific superbike bargain, ClassicCars.com Journal

What is interesting is that when compared to other competitors in the world of 1970s European superbikes, such as the BMW R90S, the Laverda SFC and Ducati 900SS, the Guzzi is still surprisingly a great value.

I know these bikes quite well, and this bike would be more than welcome at any concours event that features motorcycles as a class, and it could well walk away with a trophy at the end of the day. It really looks that good. I am betting that the asking price of the Guzzi is equal to the cost of the restoration alone.

guzzi
The Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans is a premium superbike from Italy

I have ridden a number of Le Mans 1 bikes and they truly deliver on the promise of their looks; much more engaging than the BMW R90S, with that distinctive Italian sporting feel.

These icons of 1970’s superbikes are not likely to stay inexpensive forever, and the asking price of this #1 condition Moto Guzzi at only $19,800 represents a tremendous deal. Also consider the savings on fuel and service costs you will have with this wonderful bike when compared with that Alfa Romeo or Ferrari you have parked in the garage.

To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

Hagerty
Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

9 COMMENTS

  1. I hope that the writers know more about vehicles than gas prices! At this moment, the only states with average gas prices over $5 are Hawaii and California.

  2. Thanks Andy for sharing this “Pick of the Day”. It brought back memories of my late brother who loved motorcycles. His first new on was a Triumph Bonneville – another beautiful bike.

  3. owned a new on ein 1978. a wonderfully fast bike and more reliable than my other bike a 1973 Norton 750 Commando. Still have the Norton and wish I had kept the Guzzi

  4. Great bikes!
    Have owned a 75′ – yes a 75′ for many years now. Guzzi began Le Mans production November 1975
    which were recorded as 75 even though Guzzi advertised first model year for these bikes as 1976.
    Also for anyone hunting down one these rare Guzzis, don’t be alarmed if the registered frame number is VE7**** and not VE1**** which Guzzi historians will have you believe as an authentic only LeMans which is far from correct. Actually has co’s a lot of pain for sellers and buyers alike thinking the bike was a clone.
    Bikes brought to the US used the engine number as frame number to meet DOT requirements for matching numbers so if you have or are looking at a Le Mans with frame VE7**** same as any other world Le Mans except for the frame number starting with a 7 digit not 1 plus DOT headlight and side reflectors.
    The original VE1**** is still there stamped on the head tube partially hidden behind the US Federalized import plate.

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