1960 Mod.50 Gran Sport

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This was the first ‘condorino’ that I acquired from Italy, a 1960 Mod. 50 Gran Sport (Serial No. EP 9460) in the classic metallic ‘chartreuse’ 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 Magistroni steel crank with the letters ‘L’ set within the chainring webbing (inside arms stamped ’60), Magistroni 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 a suburb of Milan. 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.

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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.

4 thoughts on “1960 Mod.50 Gran Sport

  1. Hey there. Explain Condorino to me. I just bought one I guess. Made by Berga. It is what they call the handlebars. And the translation comes out josephinesrafael. What does that even mean?

    thanks

    • Formally these first multi-speed, derailleur equipped city bikes that emerged in the 1950s were referred to as Sportivo models in the Legnano catalogues. They were also produced by the prominent Italian companies including Bianchi, Atala, Torpado, Bottecchia and Doniselli to name a few. The street term ‘Condorino’ was adopted as a name to describe the Sportivo models that featured the uniquely shaped handlebars that must have reminded people of a condor bird in flight . . . or rather ‘condorino’ for a small condor. Not unlike the name ‘Topolino’ (little mouse) that was given to the much loved and very popular Fiat 500 automobile that was produced between 1936 and 1955. To my knowledge I have not seen the term ‘condorino’ used outside of Italy or have I seen any non-Italian maker of these unique and very beautiful handlebars.

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