This was the first ‘condorino’ that I acquired from Alessandro Nati of Arvello, Italy (aka tullio_s_quickrelease of eBay) a 1960 Mod. 50 Gran Sport (Serial No. EP 9460) in the classic metallic ‘lizard yellow’ paint scheme that distinguished the Legnano brand. I have had some people comment that it is a colour one might expect to see on a fishing lure rather than a bicycle. However to the ‘cognoscenti’, this unique yellow-green metallic finish is to Legnano what the infamous celeste blue is to the Bianchi brand. In production, the frame received a terracotta primer as the base finish, then a metallic silver lacquer to create the pearlescent effect followed by the semi-transparent yellow-green lacquer. The overall paint scheme also included a white headtube and white banding on the downtube, both of which where painted before the decals were applied.
The Mod.50 was Legnano’s top of the line ‘condorino’ featuring the Campagnolo Sport Group (c.1953) including the Legnano branded Campagnolo Sport chrome hubs (locknuts stamped ’58) with quick release skewers, Sport derailleur and the Sport single shift lever with a brazed-on fitting to the downtube. Complimenting the Campagnolo components is a proprietary Way-Asauto steel crankset with the letters ‘L’ set within the chainring webbing (inside arms stamped ’60), Way-Assauto bottom bracket and headset, Way-Assauto pedals, a Regina Corsa 4 speed freewheel, Universal 39 side pull brakes (Brev 361666) and a Dansi front light and dynamo. Classic ‘condorino’ DNA at its best!
The bike is only partially assembled in the photo above after it arrived from Italy. The overall finish and condition of the bike was poor and clearly it had not been ridden in many years however the completely original condition and lack of damage is rare for the 50+ years that have passed. The bike was also free of any serious rust or corrosion so it must have been stored indoors for most of its life. Mod.50 is now in the talented hands of Noah Rosen of Vélocolour undergoing a complete restoration that should be completed by late 2013.
This treasure of time was still wearing original Pirelli Stella tires with their cream sidewalls and clay coloured tread surface. I knew Pirelli had made bicycle tires but from what I understand they stopped production in the 70’s. However tire moulds must have also existed in Brazil as it is still possible to obtain Pirelli branded tires although I do not believe that they are being made by Pirelli. You can see these ‘faux’ Pirelli tires on the Mod.44 page, cream in colour, without the pink-brown tread surface and after countless hours of searching I can assure the reader that they are as close as you can now get to the originals.
1960 Mod.50 Gran Sport Restored
Almost three years later, what a great restoration project this has been. This was the very first vintage Legnano that I purchased and imported from Rome. What a sight it was when I unpacked the battered, second-hand cardboard box that arrived at my doorstep. The picture at the very top of this page was a quick first assembly taken the same day to check that nothing had fallen out ‘en route’ to Toronto. It was, as they say, a bike that had been well used and well loved for 50+ years and it now had a new owner, a new home and a new lease on life.
Despite the overall worn condition, the best thing about this old ‘condorino’ was that it was 100% original. Not one piece missing or ‘changed out’ from the day it first rolled out of the factory. Due to climate or perhaps its resting place at the end of the day, there was also very, very little if any rust on this bike. However, there was a lot of old tar-like, road grime protecting many of the components and fitments that would require hours of soaking and careful scrubbing to eventually reach the shiny chrome and aluminium surfaces.
It was my intention to maintain the classic ‘lizard yellow’ Legnano paint scheme however as the months passed I acquired another ‘lizard yellow’ 1967 Mod. 50 Gran Sport in beautiful condition that did not require refinishing. So what to do? I have managed to acquire a number of original Legnano sales catalogs over the years and discovered that Legnano models were available in classic black . . . and so black it would be for this restoration.
Consulting the catalogs, I also noticed the only substantive difference between the Mod.50 and the Mod.53 was the addition of Ambrosio dropped road bars and stem, Mod.39 Universal brake levers and the Way-Assauto ‘Sprint’ road pedals. Fortunately I had all of these original components in my collection of spare parts to make the modification. Like the Mod.50, the Mod.53 was a four speed configuration in these years and a general purpose road bike intended for sport riding and weekend outings.
more to come . . .
Here’s a blueprint of the bike as restored:
Model: Gran Sport Mod.50/53
Serial No: EP9460
Frame Size: 56cm ctc
Crankset: 48t Way-Assauto for Legnano (inside arms stamped 60)
Bottom Bracket: Way-Assauto
Pedals: Way-Assauto WAS (nos)
Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo Sport
Shifter: Campagnolo Gran Sport (braze on)
Freewheel: Reginal Extra (15/17/19/21)
Chain: Regina Extra
Hubs: Campagnolo Sport Low Flange 36h
Rims: 622 x 22 DIN Beretta 28 x 1.75 (nos)
Tires: Deestone Gumwall 700c x 28 (modern)
Handlebars: Ambrosio for Legnano 38cm
Stem: Ambrosio for Legnano 100mm
Brake Levers: Universal Mod.51
Brake Callipers: Universal Mod.39 (long reach) Brev. 361686
Seat: Brooks B17 (modern)
Rear Rack: Velo Orange (modern)