Moto Guzzi 1951 “Dondolino” 498 cc OHV production racer frame # 22456 engine # 70954
The Dondolino was developed from the prewar Condor production racer. The air-cooled 500cc horizontal single has exposed hairpin valve springs and alloy head and barrel. Designed to run on the low octane fuel available in post-war Italy, claimed maximum output was 33 horsepower at 5,500 rpm. A distinguishing feature of the Dondolino is Guzzi’s trademark external “bacon slicer” flywheel, which has an almost mesmerizing effect when the engine is running.
1946 was the first year of production for the Dondolino. That year, a Dondolino piloted by Enrico Lorenzetti won the Swiss Grand Prix at Berne. A Dondolino also won the 1946 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, with Nando Balzarotti riding. Dondolinos also won the second-division Italian Championships in 1946, 1948, 1950, 1951 and 1954, as well as third division titles in 1947 and 1948. They won the first division French Championships in 1948, 1949, 1950 and 1951 and the Swiss titles in 1950 and 1951.
Although there were numerous victories in circuit races, the Dondolino really proved itself in such marathon events as the Milan-Taranto race. This event was one of many great Italian long-distance road races extremely popular in the post-war years. While the Dondolino often competed in these events against more powerful machines with greater outright top speed, the Guzzi’s ruggedness and reliability afforded it stellar success in these gruelling tests of rider stamina and mechanical stoutness.
Dondolino is Italian for “rocking chair” and a charitable interpretation would draw a comparison to the “featherbed” name given to the famous Norton frame designed by Rex McCandless, a frame renowned for its comfortable ride. The more cynical interpretation attributes the nickname to the tendency of the machine to pogo a bit when the suspension is pushed to its limits. The Dondolino was manufactured between 1946 and 1951, and it’s believed no more than 54 machines were produced.
This iconic and rare racer has been used in classic races in Germany and is in good overall condition. She comes with a VFV Fahrzeugpass.