1954 Gilera 499cc Saturno Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. 2611626
The best known and most successful large-capacity Gilera roadster of the immediate post-WW2 period was the 500cc Saturno. First seen in 1940 in competition guise, the Saturno - a 499cc, overhead-valve, four-stroke single - did not enter production until 1946 when it appeared with the horizontally-sprung, friction-damped, swinging-arm rear suspension first seen on the pre-war blown 'four' racer. In the late 1940s the factory built a limited number of Competizione versions of the Saturno, and this model resulted in the more highly developed San Remo racer that featured a more powerful engine, blade girder fork and full-width front hub. Ridden by major stars of the day, the San Remo established an enviable competition record, proving capable of beating multi-cylinder rivals around tighter circuits on numerous occasions. The design's next development, the Corsa, arrived in 1951 boasting a revised engine with increased finning and a larger sump. A telescopic front fork and conventional hydraulically damped rear shock absorbers made their first appearance on this model, giving rise to the name Piuma (feather) because of the ease of handling these advances conferred. Major changes to the Turismo and Sport roadsters were mainly confined to the cycle parts, which were updated with a telescopic front fork and full-width alloy front brake for 1951 and conventional coil-spring dampers at the rear soon after. Production of the Saturno roadsters continued until 1959, their passing marking the end of the line for one of Italy's truly great classic motorcycles. Harry purchased this Saturno at the Daytona, USA motorcycle auction in 1991. The owner was an Argentinian gentleman, who told him that it had been raced by Benedicto Caldarella, the Argentine Grand Prix star and works rider of the four-cylinder Gilera during the mid-1960s. The seller also claimed that its previous owner, Benedicto's father, had used it to win several local championships. The machine is offered with bill of sale (1991) and Motor Vehicle Duty Certificate.