BIKES YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE: 1974 GUAZZONI MATTA CROSS 50

Aldo Guazzoni made and lost his fortune building small displacement street and dirt bikes. This 1974 Matta Cross 50 is what would be called a dual-sport today.

Founded by Aldo Guazzoni (1908-1978), mechanic and Milan motorcycle  dealer, Guazzoni began building bikes in 1935 with a British-built, Calthorpe-powered, 500cc motorcycle that didn’t find much public support. Subsequently Guazzoni built three-wheelers for delivery, warehouses and transportation use. After the World War II Guazzoni joined forces with the Fabbrica Bolognese Motori (FBM) group. It was a joint project between Victorio Minarelli and Franco Morini. Guazzoni was able to make an agreement to use FBM two-stroke engines in his line of small street bikes. In 1955 and 1956 the Guazzoni 50cc Torpedo dustbin road racer set 30 World Speed records at the Monza circuit. They continued to build 50cc street bikes and moped while looking for the golden fleece of sales.

The 50cc two-stroke rotary valve engine had a four-speed gearbox and produced approximately 10 horsepower. Note the crash guard welded to the frame to protect the side-mounted carb and air filter canister.

It wasn’t until 1960s, using an engine from a go-kart, that Guazzoni would have its first truly successful machine. In 1967 the 50cc Matta Cross was first dirt bike to roll down the assembly line. It was called the “Crazy” (which in Italian was “Matta”) and was equipped with a 50cc, rotary valve, two-stroke engine. It was the first-ever rotary valve engine in Italy at the time. The Matta Cross had a reverse cylinder with the exhaust pipe out of the back. Once the 50cc Guazzoni Crazy started selling the company began to focus on small displacement engines only (below 150cc).

Because Guazzoni’s clientele was typically Italian youth, the Matta Cross weighed 165 pounds. Europe had a popular 50cc motocross class back in the 1970s and that is what the Matta Cross was aimed at.

The Matta Cross was a hit with the young people of Italy and convinced Guazzoni to build 125cc and 150cc motorcycles in 1968. It came with lights so it could be used on the streets of Milan and Rome, but they were easily stripped off for racing. By building small displacement dirt and street bikes, a whole generation of future Italian and World Champions got their first taste of racing a motorcycle on a Guazzoni. In the 1971 the Matta Cross became a special racing model and got a new chassis—which was subsequently used in the 100cc and 125cc “RM72.”

This is the 1970 Guazzoni 50cc road racer with a reversed cylinder, wate-cooled head and right side shift.

The water-cooled, six-speed, rotary valve, 50c Guazzoni road racer. It was claimed to rev to 15,000 rpm.

Our featured 1974 Guazzoni Matta Cross 50 came out just before sales dipped precariously in the mid 1970s—when the Japanese invasion was in full swing. The company folded in 1976 and Aldo Guazzoni died in 1978 at the age of 60.

aldo guazzonibikes you've never seen beforefbm enginesFranco MoriniGuazzonimatta cross 50motocrossmxarotaray vlavetwo-strokeVictorio Minarelli