Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Inspiration - then Norton nick the idea

Watching the Chinese F1 race on Sunday (don't cancel the subscription - I was killing the monotony of ironing) I was struck by Mercedes post-race rationale on why their victory was important.
The Mercedes F1 car is really nothing of the sort - it's a typical Garagista effort (as Enzo Ferrari called F1 teams not entered by a bone-fide manufacturer) with Mercedes picking up the tab in return for the team being called Mercedes Silver Arrows. Sunday's win was the first for a car thus described since Fangio won the 1955 Italian GP with a Silver Arrow that really had been built in Germany. Anyway, Mercedes delight was especially great because they won in China with a car that spoke of a heritage few other car makers can dream of. Their message is clear - new money is crass, but because that's the norm in the emerging economies (China especially), you can look like old money by buying into a brand that speaks of longevity and class. And if Mr Newly-Minted of Beijing buys a Mercedes (in silver, of course) not only has he bought from a company that wins in F1, he's buying from a company that can trace its F1 victories back to Pre-don't-mention-the-war days.

Hmmm, I thought. Moto Guzzi could do with some of that, especially since their new California 1400 (below) is the perfect competitor to the default Harley that the new markets love as much as the latest sportsbike. Except Guzzi don't have a sportsbike...Do they?

Well, Piaggio seem so keen to move Guzzi out of Mandello and closer to the modern Aprilia factory that they may have missed an idea I've shameless copied from Alejandro de Tomaso. His plan was to make Benelli mainstream, and Guzzi the upmarket, premium brand. So couldn't Piaggio built a modern Guzzi racer based around the Aprilia V4, maybe even for the CRT class in Moto GP? Perfect way to reposition Guzzi as a premium product and make the new Cali sell as well and as profitably as Ducati's Diavel? So obvious I wondered why no-one else had thought of it.

Ah, they have: Norton have just announced that they will race a Spondon framed Aprilia V4 (above) at the TT, with a "Norton" sticker on the tank. Damn, wish I'd called the Patent Office on Monday...

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