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Remembering the 1949 Moto Guzzi Dondolino


In 1946 MotoGuzzi released its iconic naked road bike. The MotoGuzzi Dondolino enjoyed a healthy run from 1946 through 1951. The vintage bike is a prized item among collectors. It remains a significant model in the history of the MotoGuzzi motorcycle corporation, as well as in the history of motorcycle automotive technology. The 1949 edition of the bike was also significant as the middle example of the life cycle of the bike. Here's remembering the 1949 Moto Guzzi Dondolino and the reasons for its current status in motorcycle history.

A gentleman's racer

Motorcycle Classics looks back fondly on the 1949 MotoGuzzi Dondolino in its elegance and prestige. It was a fast motorcycle for its day, but delivered with a classy aesthetic that earned it the nickname "the gentleman's racer." The name of the motorcycle model is Italian for rocking chair, which suggests it provides a smooth and comfortable ride. Dondolinos were available in limited quantities with small batches produced from 1946 through 1951. They were only available in the color red, which distinguished them from other bikes.

A rare motorcycle

The Dondolino was only produced for five years. During that time, it's believed that between 54 to 57 Dondolino motorcycles left MotoGuzzi's production lines. Some Dondolinos may have started as Condor models, receiving upgrades to the high-end Dondolino. The limited number of bikes out there and accounted for are engraved with the frame and engine numbers. For the latter, a C at the beginning of the number signifies that the bike was made for a racing competition. Before we begin to look at the monetary value of the 1949 MotoGuzzi Dondolino, we're obliged to discuss its finer points and what made it an important model in history.

The 1949 MotoGuzzi Dondolino

Fichas Motor hones in on the 1949 MotoGuzzi Dondolino describes it as a "mind-blowing" motorcycle for its time. The bike was powered by a single-cylinder, 2-stroke engine. The displacement is 498 cc with 33 horsepower at 5500 pm. Other significant features include the 88.0x82.0 mm bore x stroke with Dell'Orto SSM carburetor intake and OHV fuel control, 4-speed chain final drive, and ignition by magneto. The empty weight of the bike was 280 pounds, which is about as naked as you can get. The bike is categorized as a sports motorcycle with a maximum speed of 110 miles per hour. The fuel tank held a full five gallons. The front and rear brakes were both drums with a single seat. It might not sound impressive by modern standards, but for 1949, the bike was a screamer. By the time that the 1949 edition was available the Dondolino had already established its credibility on the race track.

MotoGuzzi Dondolino racing history

Godin Sporting Cars and Motorcycles explains that MotoGuzzi's Dondolino was made for private motorcycle racers with an interest in competing in endurance events and circuit races in Europe. The first year of its release the Dondolino emerged as the winner of the Swiss Grand Prix held at Berne. It went on to take the prize at Barcelona's Spanish Grand Prix. The Dondolino has an impressive racing history and pedigree, winning the Italian Championships second-division races in 1946, then returning for another win in 1948, followed by wins in 1951 and again in 1954. The bike took third-division titles for two consecutive years in 1947 and 1948, as well as for years of winning first division French Championships, and two years of earning Swiss titles. These wins represent the most significant racing titles and do not account for the numerous circuit titles won by MotoGuzzi Dondolino riders. The design team made the bike with rugged construction that allowed riders to participate in the most grueling long-distance road races popular in Europe during the post-war period. The Dondolino was among the most powerful motorcycles in the 1940s and '50s era. They were built stout and designed to hold up under challenging road and track conditions.

The MotoGuzzi Dondolino is still racing

Modifikasi Motor confirms vintage and Italian bike lovers can still catch a glimpse of these magnificent machines from yesteryear in action. Some rare bike owners cannot bear to seal their treasures in a showroom. They take them out on the track and compete against other comparable vintage bikes. Watching the old bikes run and hearing their engines is like stepping into the past for a few hours. If you keep your eyes peeled and your ears open, you can occasionally catch a rare bike race and see these bikes in action. These motorcycles hold up nicely when engaged in heated competition. It's a thrill to watch them do their thing.

Value of a 1949 MotoGuzzi Dondolino

It's difficult to find the precise value of a 1949 MotoGuzzi Dondolino because a vintage bike of this status is worth whatever a collector is willing to pay for it. It's a rare bike that is hard to find. Mecum Auctions estimate the value of a 1948 Dondolino in restored condition from a private collection in the neighborhood of $55,000 to $70,000. It's rare for collectors to part with them. We found one 1949 in excellent restored condition for $48,000.

Final thoughts

The MotoGuzzi Dondolino is an iconic bike that inspired private racers throughout Europe. The Italian-built racer has the DNA to compete and to win. It's taken its share of European titles. Collectors still run their Dondolino bikes in classic bike races. The model holds its own in competitions with comparable bikes from its era. The Dondolino is an essential part of the history of motorcycles, offering one more reason to love Italian motorcycles. It took the European racing circuit by storm, winning numerous titles across the various divisions. It's getting harder to find the Dondolino for sale these days. We found three of them from the 1946 through 1951 model years.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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