1971 Laverda 750SFC Production Racing Motorcycle
Registration no. LYU 81K
Frame no. LAV750C 5876
Engine no. 750 5876
'Thus impetuously and unquestionably, the 750 Laverda took its rightful place among the élite of the world's motor cycles. Designed as a highway express, and proven in the most punishing of long-distance races, it was fast, tireless and very well behaved, a machine of connoisseur quality.' - L J K Setright, On Two Wheels.
Founded in 1873, Laverda started out making farm machinery, only turning to motorcycle manufacture in the immediate aftermath of WW2. Its first product, the 75cc Motoleggera (lightweight motorcycle) helped meet the unprecedented upsurge in demand for basic motorised transport, and modified versions were soon winning their class in the long-distance road races popular at the time. Lightweights, scooters and mopeds continued to form the mainstay of Laverda production up to the late 1960s when the small Italian concern, hitherto little known outside its home country, astonished the motorcycling world by introducing a 650cc parallel twin. Launched in 1968, the latter was a controversial design, appearing to have been closely based on the Honda CB72 and CB77 twins. After fewer than 100 had been made the engine was taken out to 750cc and a team of 650 and 750 Laverdas duly walked away with the 1968 Giro d'Italia. That first 750GT touring model spawned the 750SF sportster in 1971. 'SF' stood for Syper Freni (super brakes) and marked a switch from Grimeca stoppers to Laverda's own superior drum brakes. Introduced at the same time was the 750SFC - Super Freni Competizione - a thinly disguised racer that soon came to dominate the endurance races of the day. Built in strictly limited numbers - only 549 were produced in five batches between 1971 and 1976 - the 750SFC production racer is today one of the most collectible of Laverda's early twins and thus highly sought after.
The first of its kind brought to the UK, the matching-numbers 750SFC we offer was originally campaigned by the official importers, Slater Brothers. An ex-works racer dubbed 'Leaping Lena' following its exploits at the 1971 Isle of Man TT, the Laverda was track tested at Silverstone that year by racer/journalist Ray Knight for Motorcyclist Illustrated magazine (copy article on file). Its first private owner (from 30th June 1972) was the late Jim Berkheimer, founding president of the Laverda Owners Club. Jim successfully campaigned the 750SFC at circuits throughout the UK and Europe before selling it in 1975. Later that year the Laverda passed to the current owner, who continued to race it. Restored in 2003, 'LYU 81K' is described by the vendor as in generally good condition and offered with its original logbook; Swansea V5C document; Roger Slater correspondence confirming its provenance; and Laverda 750SFC Owners Registry printout ('5876' is 7th on the list).