Saturday, 12 February 2011
This one shouldn't need much work (famous last words) because it's been sat in a private collection until the recent hard times meant it came to market with the intriguing claim that it had been built with a Hemi (Sferica - ie hemispherical) head for the Milano Taranto. Surely BS, given that Gilera focused on the 500 class in the Milano Taranto and that only a handful of Sfericas were ever made. But the bike came via the highly trusted John Fallon so I dug a bit deeper.
First investigation was the engine number - hmmm, this included the stamping Gilera put on their Motogiro bikes, and the Gilera register confirmed the number went on a 175V (the V suffix was for the racers) supplied to a Rimini dealer in 1956 - the Giro went right through Rimini in '56, with a Bologna start/finish.
But engine numbers can be faked, and the only Sferica I could track down (with the help of Jim Dillard at Vintagemotos Museum no longer had it's hemi-head. Time to have a closer look...
The bike was on mainland Europe but John took a deep breath and shipped it over. Ace mechanic Neil Ridgewellf lifted the head, and there it was - a hemispherical head with vales set at right angles, just like the Gilera 500/4 racer. The standard 175 Sport had parallel valves and a flat head - and no dry clutch. The engine had clearly been run, so it's no fake: and for less money than a Ducati 175 it was mine. What? Does it run? Er, not yet