1957/2004 Gilera 500cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Re-creation
Frame no. 015
Engine no. 015
Gilera first sprang to prominence in the late 1930s, when the Italian firms supercharged four-cylinder racers trounced BMW in Grands Prix and snatched the world speed record away from the German marque. Throughout the 1950s it was Gileras racers that again grabbed the headlines, the Arcore-built fours taking five manufacturers titles and six individual championships in the hands of riders such as Duke, Liberati and Masetti between 1950 and 1957.
With the surviving works Gilera fours either in museums or private collections, and thus extremely unlikely ever to be offered for public sale, it was perhaps inevitable that the revival of interest in classic motorcycle racing would lead to the construction of replicas of these precious thoroughbreds. Completed in 2004, the example offered here is the work of Kay Engineering, world famous for its re-creations of classic MV Agustas and other exotica. The machine is one of a limited number made by Kay Engineering using a genuine ex-works 1957 Gilera 500 four, on loan from Italy, for guidance. Gileras Grand Prix four had reached the zenith of its development by 1957, making that years model the obvious choice for replication.
No expense was spared in the construction of 015 - the Kays works bike - which was ridden by the vendor, Pat Sefton, on its debut at the Scottish Classic Racing Motor Cycle Clubs Bob MacIntyre Memorial Meeting in the summer of 2004. Pat and the Gilera finished on the podium first time out and the machine has been a regular feature at the event ever since. Later that same year, at the Manx Grand Prix, the bikes first two laps were competed at 97 and 98mph respectively but in the race Pats progress was hampered by an intermittent ignition fault, which prompted the adoption of a self-generating electronic magneto. The Gilera has never missed a beat since, proving 100% reliable. Ceramic coated cylinder bores and 18 wheels (permitting the use of modern tyres) are the only other modifications listed; otherwise the machine is to in-period works specification.
In 2005 015 received an invitation to both the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Revival Meeting, where it achieved two good finishes in a star-studded field of runners and was most enthusiastically received. Practice week at the 2005 MGP passed off smoothly until Thursday when Pat fell off the Aermacchi he was scheduled to ride in the Junior race. Shaken but otherwise unhurt, he elected to have a steady ride in the Senior race in what would be his final Manx Grand Prix. Seventh place and a silver replica was a good result given the need for a pit-stop (not required by the single-cylinder machines) while the second (into the pits) lap was 0.5 seconds short of the magic ton, echoing Geoff Dukes 99.9mph Gilera lap of 1955. Subsequent outings have included Chimay, Spa Francorchamps and as a special guest at the Aintree 50th Anniversary meeting.
015 is presented ready to race and complete with technical backup. Spares are readily available and Pat advises us that he would happily attend a tack day to assist the fortunate purchaser with advice on set up. Presented in period works livery of red and white, this superb machine represents a rare opportunity to acquire a faithful re-creation of Gileras fabulous Grand Prix four, fully sorted, ready for use and eligible for entry into the most prestigious of classic motorcycling events worldwide.