I collected our Gilera the other day. She’s never been registered in this country, but first took to the road in Italy in January 1962. Perky little blighter, isn’t she? Of course the paint and that seat are far from standard, but she’s very solid and complete (including a standard seat base), and will soon look and sound as lovely as she did almost exactly 49 years ago, roaring up the via Roma in Vaprio d’Agogna (an hour or so west of Milan).
The British press loved these Giubileos. “Anyone used to big singles would be truly at home on this scaled-down Italian” with its plentiful bottom-end torque, “snappy acceleration” and “pleasant temperament”; so said the Motor Cycle in December 1963. She’d cruise all day at 55mph without the need to shift up and down the gearbox to keep the motor singing, and the handling was “everything one might expect from a race-bred lightweight”.
But it is the quintessentially latin red and white version that most of us instinctively associate with the Italian lightweights of this period. I wish I could say that opinion round here is evenly divided on this important question – black or red? But, in tending as I do towards the dark side, I find myself in a minority of one. Italian lightweights should be some kind of red, it seems. I don’t doubt for a moment that Gilera sold many more red Giubileos than black. But who was it that said “A slavish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds”?*
No matter. Practicalities first. I’ll worry about the colour once I’ve cured the misfire.
* Ralph Waldo Emerson, approximately.