In the late 1960s Carcano was replaced as lead engineer by Tonti, who looked to make an immediate mark. Building a trio of highly modified racers based on the old V700 configuration, the motorcycling world sat up and took notice when Tonti and his team set world records for speed and endurance. Combining his talents as tuner, designer and pitchman, Tonti's ideals transformed Moto Guzzi and immortalized his name.
Shortly after the V7 Special's speed trials, Lino Tonti went to work designing a leaner version. Joining sporting legends of similar displacement from Ducati and Laverda, the V7 Sport quickly earned a reputation of being a well finished, highly capable machine with a penchant for travel. Quelling concerns of Japan's impending takeover, it thrived in an era when horsepower and clumsy manners teamed to provide the norm. Comparatively, the V7 Sport was a revelation; melding pure handling and solid engineering in a package formed with truly remarkable lines. Proving the dedication of its designer, Tonti broke his leg testing one of the “Telaio Rosso” (red frame) prototypes, part of a select few machines hand assembled in Guzzi's race shop, then paraded around area race tracks to gauge response. Beaming with pride, the V7 Sport debuted at the historic Milan Show in November of 1971 to an enthusiastic and receptive audience.
Tonti transformed the stately touring manners of the V700 and Ambassador by designing a complete new frame. Formed with sections of straight tubing that directly joined steering head to swingarm pivot, the “Tonti” frame was shorter and stronger. Making the engine fit, Tonti replaced the top-mounted generator with an alternator placed on the crankshaft's nose, allowing the frame's backbone to travel between the cylinder splay. Featuring a new 5-speed hooked to a lightened flywheel, matching Dell'Orto VHB 30C carburetors (with built-in accelerator pumps) mixed fuel with the spark provided by a new Marelli ignition. Trimming weight, a smaller starter was fitted to the Sport's bell housing, activated by a twisting 'car type' ignition switch. As before, the camshaft was driven by a helical gearset and the closely spaced, 35mm forks were Moto Guzzi designed and made, decorated by a 220mm DLS drum brake. Useful features like the adjustable swan neck clip-on's, locking tool boxes, a hinged, swing-away stainless rear mudguard and an under-seat inspection lamp separated the Sport from its competitors. Factory rated at 70 horsepower, the V7 Sport provided the basis for models still in production today.
Considered a valuable commodity since its inception, the V7 Sport is highly sought-after by collectors and enthusiasts alike, routinely drawing high dollar amounts at auctions and private sales. Valuable or not, it'll be impossible for most owners to park their Sport for long; for as much enjoyment is gained by admiring its timeless lines and streamlined components, it's a machine truly at home on the road. Eating miles and making smiles. For these reasons and many more the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport is the classic Mandello twin. Nolan Woodbury