Moto Guzzi’s home in Mandello del Lario, by Lake Como, has been there since Carlo Guzzi founded the Società Anonima Moto Guzzi, in association with Emanuele Vittorio Parodi and son Giorgio Parodi. Giorgio served in Italian Army Air Service during World War I, aside of Carlo Guzzi and Giovanni Revelli, who died after the war while testing a new plane. It was in remembrance of Revelli that Carlo Guzzi and Giorgio Parodi included the legendary “spreading wings” Eagle in the Moto Guzzi logo. The Parodi-Guzzi association produced superb motorcycles from the very beginning and the Moto Guzzi factory became a reference point for thousands of enthusiasts. Despite the success and solid financial situation, Moto Guzzi’s headquarters never changed much because there was not land enough to expand the buildings. The reason? A range of Alpine rocks marks the northern limit of the factory area.
To cope with its growing success, Moto Guzzi in the 1950s went vertical. The company built a 3-story final assembly area and a product-validation department. Because land was scarce, this was a positive move, but the bikes were assembled on the third floor and tested on an oval track on the roof, then eased by crane back down to the ground. The irrationality of the Moto Guzzi production cycle would have horrified Henry Ford, but the system was never changed through the years. But then the Piaggio Group took over Moto Guzzi and CEO Roberto Colaninno launched a plan to fix things once and for all. Now, the historic Mandello del Lario facility is undergoing a significant evolution. From the outside, the front-line buildings with the historic address of via Emanuele Vittorio Parodi 57 at Mandello del Lario look exactly the same. At the center is a huge red gate that proudly sports the oval Moto Guzzi logo. Equally unchanged are the second-row buildings, where part of the Moto Guzzi production now takes place. Inside, all these buildings have been vastly refurbished and reorganized, with all production lines now relocated there.
This move was made possible because the production numbers are much lower than they were in the 1950s and 1960s, when the range of Moto Guzzi models included the vastly popular 125cc Stornello and 160cc Lodola. Now, beyond the 2 rows of buildings, is a large area that has cleared by bulldozers, because Colaninno wanted the old, messy collection of odd buildings cleaned up. Yes, Colaninno has a vision, but it still hurts to think of all the great Moto Guzzi creations by Chief Project Engineer Dr. Giulio Cesare Carcano that came to life there. Last time I met Colaninno at Moto Guzzi , I asked him a question and shared some thoughts: “What will be come of Mandello del Lario? It is sacred ground to Moto Guzzi enthusiasts all over the world. Even though it’s less functional than other Piaggio Group facilities like the huge Pontedera factory or even the Aprilia one at Noale, the heart of Moto Guzzi is here.” Colaninno’s reply: “Absolutely right! Moto Guzzi was born here and will always be here in Mandello del Lario. But things do not happen overnight. There was, and still is, a lot to be done to make this a perfectly rational and highly productive factory. I have a project and it is in its final stage of definition. I have seen the sketches of the general layout and it is fascinating, I promise. And I promise that what we are going to give life to well represent Moto Guzzi at its absolute, ultimate best, from its glorious past tradition to the equally glorious future that we are designing for Moto Guzzi, its models and for the Mandello del Lario factory.
“The new California 1400 models are a great success in all main markets, and so is the V7 line. Moto Guzzi is experiencing its strongest recovery and projections from now to the end of 2015 indicate that sales will keep increasing at a rate of close to 10 percent. “Speaking of the Piaggio Group in general, our next move will be in the environmentally friendly mobility systems, starting with a radically innovative electric bicycle that will be the most advanced in the field, featuring state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries and a high efficiency electric motor designed and produced by Piaggio. Then there will be more at the coming EICMA. Our very solid financial condition grants Piaggio Group a full capacity to invest in a whole generation of radically new products that are being defined within all our makes to respond to the mobility needs of the next generation of active young people. We will do it by fielding all the most advanced technologies that the global research constantly makes accessible, including those that at present are not being associated with 2- and 3-wheeled vehicles. This is creativity applied to technology, and we will do it through highly refined design, which is where Italians have an undisputed tradition of absolute leadership.”