Booth's Bike / 1968 Moto Guzzi / Motocycle Enthusiast
An affair to remember: she is a splendid Moto Guzzi Ambassador V7 750, from 1968, restored and cherished down to the tiniest detail, he is Booth, a biker with a boundless passion for his two-wheeler, which, like all Moto Guzzis, was built in the Mandello del Lario factory, a stone’s throw from Lake Como. The pride and the passion of owning a rare vehicle many collectors would give their eyeteeth for (another perfectly restored model is owned by actor and director Ewan McGregor, the Moto Guzzi testimonial). Here, this cheerful Guzzi biker from the other side of the pond tells his story to Mr Love (the author of this great little video entitled “Booth’s bike”), and describes how he restored his wonderful Italian bike to its original splendour. In Italy, the model was known as the Moto Guzzi V7 Special 750, in the USA it was marketed as the V7 Ambassador, with the gear change lever moved to the left and a choice of different colour schemes.
Moto Guzzi V7 Special 750 (Italy and European Markets)
A restored Moto Guzzi V7 Ambassador 750 (US market) from 1969, by Peter Scott
1969 MOTO GUZZI AMBASSADOR 750
Booth says: “My name is Booth and what we’re looking at here is a 1968 Moto Guzzi Ambassador. It’s the eighth one out of a hundred and it is fairly unique in that they only made a hundred because they shipped them very quickly from Italy. This bike was made by a company that’s still in business, it’s a very old marque called Moto Guzzi. They tend to be hand built especially back then, so they used whatever parts were around and were eager to get it on the market. They hadn’t developed the new body style with the tank for the 750 yet, so they simply used the 700 body. My first thought on it was it was in ramshackle shape, it was on its last legs, but it was the only bike I could afford at the time and I really did love the styling, I actually fell in love with it. The speedo mount is beautiful, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and it matches the front end perfectly, the brake at the front end is gorgeous, I’m quite used to it, I’m not used to the more modern front-ends any more, I can’t really ride them. If you look at the head bucket, it’s got this long draw, a couple of years later the buckets, the headlight buckets, became quite a bit fatter and squatter. The tank is gorgeous, I really like the detailing and how they decided to style the sharks, the rear suspension. I love the alloy rims with the stainless spokes and the hubs are fantastic as well. I like the simplicity of the colour scheme. In its time, it was like going to the moon, it had hardened chromed cylinders. The posters at the time said think big, go Guzzi, and it was for touring. This was a four-speed, for touring, in 1968. And it really did have a fantastic sensibility.
American advertisements from the 1960s
Moto Guzzis tend really to be gentleman bikes, they’re not nasty, this one is really just an old friend for me. It took me the first ten years to rebuild it, to finally restore it. I’d taken it apart and put it back together, but I never had the money to do the proper bodywork to it and the paint job and all that. I did that about ten years ago again, and now it’s pretty much ready for another restoration because I use it as a daily rider. Initially the parts were very hard to find and you couldn’t get pipes or mufflers or anything, and that’s when I started rebuilding it. Now with the advent of the internet it’s fairly easy to get parts all around the world, somebody always has something you can use. The engineering involved in the early Guzzis was baffling, the wiring was terrible and the cable management for the throttle and the brake and the clutch and the choke was just a mess. I didn’t understand charging batteries and stuff like that and I used to have to run and jump start it all the time. I’ve managed to streamline all of that; actually I’ve just got rid of all the electrics except for the headlight and the taillight. Well, how it feels when I start up my bike, if I haven’t started it up in a while, it’s exhilarating, because you know you’re in for a ride. I associate good times riding it, so emotionally it’s great to ride. Physically, I groan when I get on it now as opposed to when I was 25. It’s a very rigid ride, it’s very stiff, because the suspension isn’t very good because I never changed it, I’d rather have the looks. The motorcycle itself handles really well, it’s fairly nimble. The way the gearbox is, it’s almost like an automatic, third gear basically does everything. It’s a four-speed, I’ve spent most of my life looking for the fifth speed on it, constantly trying, it’s got to be there… Now I’ve ironed all the kinks out of it and it’s quite reliable, but it’s still old, it’s a 42-year-old bike and it’s starting to show its age. Other bikes have got their own charm but I’ve come to really love this particular one and it’s the styling, it’s almost perfect. I mean personally it’s just an old friend I’ve had for a long time and I can’t imagine not having it, I would be very sad as a matter of fact at the loss. The worst part about owning this bike is that my dad still thinks it’s a hunk of junk, he doesn’t understand why I don’t have a Harley or BMW.”
Dear Mr. Booth, thanks to your testimony as true Guzzista!
Booth on his vintage and much loved MG Ambassador
VIDEO SOURCE “Booth’s Bike”: Mr. Love Films, Vancouver, Canada; Michael Love/Lil’Devl Film & Video Productions Inc.
For true bikers, their motorcycle, whatever its age, is a cult object to be treasured, cared for and kept proudly for years; a faithful companion for travel and adventure. The new WIDE feature “My Bike Movie” is dedicated to everyone who rides off to work on a brand new bike in the morning, to everyone who fondly conserves a bike handed down in the family from generation to generation, to everyone who lovingly cherishes a vintage motorcycle.