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"Dinosaur with an Attitude"
What lead me to a Moto Guzzi:
I was 21 years old and had sold my car to buy a brand new Harley in 1976. It was a brand new Harley Super Glide in 1976 (the bowling ball years for HD), For 6 months it was my soul transportation, it was a very cool looking motorcycle - a great chick magnet. But as a motorcycle - well, it sucked. Poor performance, it broke down lots, parts vibrated off all the time, had no power, bad brakes, no suspension, etc. Hell, it could barely spin the rear tire ! I floated the lifters once when the speedo said 103. I doubt it was actually doing more than 85 or 90mph. The only good thing about that bike was - it looked cool, and did I mention it was a great chick magnet.
I SOLD that P.O.S. Harley the very next year and bought an old 1954 Chevy Pickup truck and found my '71 Moto Guzzi in spring of 1977.
My friend had an older cousin who bought this Moto Guzzi Ambassador brand new off the showroom floor and started traveling. The cousin traveled to Alaska and back on it, drove it up and down the coast and put 23,000 miles on it before leaving it at my friends house in Las Vegas. As the story goes, he was riding it one day in Vegas when the oil drain plug came out and before he knew it the engine had no oil and ceased up.
That happened back in 1974. The cousin went back into the military and the Guzzi sat in my friends barn until I
in 1977. It was covered with a
and was layered in old barn dressings - hay, dirt, rope, chicken shit,
spider webs, and shoved against a wall.
Another friend and I dug it out, paid a whopping $400.00
for it and got a title release from the cousin and set about to rebuild the engine (using VW
pistons), and had her running again within a few months.
This first picture is what we looked like in '79 ('70 Ambassador and Roy getting ready for a trip). I had great times on that Moto Guzzi Ambassador for a few years in Las Vegas. In 1979 I set out on a big motorcycle trip with a friend and on the way back I had an accident. The notorious Speed Wobble - Bang & slide. I suffered from dreaded road rash, but nothing serious. The Guzzi also suffered road rash from the slide, but only cosmetics were damaged. It wrecked the fairing, saddlebags and the crashbars were all skinned up.
After recovering from the speed wobble I tore the Ambo down to bare frame. Sent the good body work out for a freelance style Paint job at a Harley Chopper artists shop. I told the artist I liked deep red and pearl white and wanted a Santana Lion 9 Faces mural on the tank. The red painted over the pearl white really lightened up the red color and where the red faded into white it glows.
I repainted and cleaned, and cured everything else. I did some
cool black wrinkle finish paint on the heads and dash and did allot of body work
on the frame to smooth out all the rough factory weld joints in visible
connections and corners.
The paint job was all the rage for that time of year. The Santana Lion / Faces on the tank came out really cool. I got the wild paint job back, assembled everything and was moving to Washington state by the end of 1980.
In Washington I ran the VW Piston Guzzi engine for a few more years. The engine was like a 850 instead of a 750, so I had lots of fun pushing the Eldorado 850's around. About 1990 I decided to rebuild the engine back to Moto Guzzi pistons and specs and wanted to repaint the frame. I pulled it all apart and - well, there it sat in my garage in boxes of parts for about 3 more years.
Finally, in '93 I did the painting and got some new parts and put it all back together. However, I had also began to acquired a few upgrade parts in the meantime. I had become associated with a rather large Moto Guzzi club with a few very savvy Moto Guzzi mechanics and engineers. I wanted to do some of the major upgrades and improvements that these Guzzi Guru's had been learning about. The newer Moto Guzzi's had better brakes, better - bigger motor, bigger rear drive, well, just about everything was bigger and better. I wanted to make some of those improvements to the Ambo like many other older loop frame riders were doing. You can find so much information on the Internet and through the Moto Guzzi clubs around the world. In fact you can find Guzzi friends at the local club that have known me and this motorcycle for over 25 years.
In '95 I sold the Guzzi/VWpiston engine and started to Upgrade with an 850 engine case with a 1000cc kit. Soon this mild mannered 750cc Ambassador turned into the Ambo with Attitude.
I sent my parts to the Moto Guzzi shop in Seattle and they did a complete blueprint & polish job on the new configuration for a V 1000cc engine. All balanced and machined parts, using 1000cc pistons, a better 850 cam, lightened flywheel, 850 heads, 5 speed trans, 850 front end, dual disk brakes, 850 rear drive w/new cush, air shocks, hotter coil & plugs, bosch starter, police bars w/extensions, VW battery, 34mm Carbs w/K&N filters, Bigger front and rear tires, big cushy custom seat, custom handlebar risers/setbacks, oil gauge, volt meter, windscreen, rear air shocks, onboard air compressor, fish tails exhaust, upgraded lighting all around, upgraded dash, Floor Boards, US style fuse box, sport fairing, extended rear brake lever, fiamm horns, HiWay pegs, and still sporting that real custom red on pearl white paint with 9 faces inside the Santana lion impression mural paint job done in 1980!
Man, this ole Ambo really became a lion in disguise. This ole Guzzi ain't what she used to be. It was extremely fast for the vintage machine it was. The engine was tuned for top end power. It didn't idle smoothly, but that was the price for top end freeway driving with the upgraded motor & gears - it was tuned for freeway riding at higher speed. Even the rear end gears were chosen for freeway riding. I rode 2-up allot of times and really enjoyed that extra power from the new 1000 V-Twin engine. The front forks are from an 850T and sport disc brakes and longer travel. Brakes in the back are also upgraded and work better than stock. The rear shocks are air shocks from an old Honda Goldwing. They work okay, but have too much rebound for the lighter Guzzi. I'd like to change them.
In '99 I had to return the bike to the Moto Guzzi shop in Seattle to redo the rear drive unit. At the time and got brand new drive shaft, U-joint with an 850T rear drive and New drive gears. The bike now has about as many improvements that you could possibly do with a loop frame Moto Guzzi Ambassador. The bike sounds just awesome with the loud exhaust and fishtail pipes and runs just as fast as you might like to go. I sure had fun one day out on the beach in Westport.
The big V-Twin rumbles down the roads and especially down the freeway with the power of a locomotive and the smoothness of a cruiser. I don't know the top speed - don't want to know. I have gone as fast as it will go, but the speedometer freaked out after 90, so I really don't know the top speed. I do know it is plenty fast enough to keep big grins on my face! Not as fast as today's crotch rockets that scream down the road and do wheelies at 70 mph, but the Ambo is very fast for the style bike it is. I like the low down power a whole lot. I mean, say you are going up a long steep grade - grab on and twist that throttle and the bike kicks down a grunt and launches you up the hill. Maybe you are on a long mountain high speed curve - just twist the throttle and man the pull around corners and corner lean angle is awesome. It'll scrap the floorboards! I also upgraded the front brakes from drum to dual disks and upgraded the rear brakes as well. So, it stops better than original to boot.
The local Washington Moto Guzzi Club sponsored the National Moto Guzzi convention in 2003. I had not been riding my Ambassador very much at all in the past few years, but got it running again for this event. After the event I put the Ambo back into storage mode and began work on my largest project - building the Spiderhollow house. The house was done in 2005 and after that I had become involved with other projects like making a grease car - a diesel engine Mercedes run on waste veggie oil, and a few other projects. The Ambo Still sat in storage from 2003 till summer of 2007. I was riding other motorcycles during this time, I had purchased a couple Moto Guzzi's to ride and sell, so I didn't just quit riding, I just put the AmboW/Attitude in storage.
Finally, in 2007 I took the Ambo out of storage. I replaced the oil, cleaned the plugs, added fresh gasoline and a new battery. Wow, after setting for 4 years it started right up!!! These Moto Guzzi's are awesome. I rode it to 2 or 3 Moto Guzzi Club breakfasts in 2007, but no more riding than that.
(Spring 2008)It is usually dirty from the last ride, but it is faithfully waiting to be ridden. The paint job done in 1980 is in surprisingly good condition but does show the years and use. The chrome has suffered over time, but there isn't allot of chrome to start with. I have a brand new set of grips for it and a brand new set of extended springs for the front forks. It runs strong and true just as it sets now. However, I believe it needs the rubber brake hoses & rubber fuel lines replaced, and once it is being ridden again it will need rear brakes re-fitted and a good tune up. Tires are only about 25% used – if that.
The Ambo with Attitude lives and breaths as it sets - the eyes of the lion are on you all the time!
There you have it. A history of this 1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador motorcycle. It is a very spirited "Vintage" motorcycle.
(Spring 2008), I have way too many projects, not enough room, not enough riding time, not enough passion to maintain all my hobbies and projects. I keep telling myself to find someone who has some passion for a great vintage machine and I SOLD my beloved Ambo with Attitude. The deal I worked out was very good. The new owner is excited to restore it to the majestic beauty it once was and I was able to keep the Lion Tank as a Memento. Bought for $400. in '77 and sold for $3,000. in '08. Still, I Can't believe - after 30 years I sold it - Jeez what a dope. One year later I bought another '74 Police Eldorado. Kept for a year and sold, then bought a '74 Eldorado California 850.
Moto Guzzi Ambassador Lives ON:
James Pissot bought the AmboW/Attitude - He really is restoring the bike, and appears to be doing a great job on it. Just to show that you can further the life of a classic motorcycle if you sell it I wanted to include a small web page showing Jims Progress with what is now called "the AmBadAssAdor"