Offered from the estate of the late Clifford Jones, the ex-Mal Kirwan
c.1966 Aermacchi 350cc Ala d'Oro Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 141229
A household name among motorcyclists thanks to its heroic achievement of producing the most highly developed and successful overhead-valve racing single ever, Aermacchi was a relative latecomer to motorcycle manufacture, building its first machine in the late 1940s and the first of its trademark, horizontally-mounted, four-stroke singles - the 175cc Chimera - in 1956. The 'enclosed' Chimera was soon joined by more conventionally styled 175cc and 250cc machines, the racing versions of which were christened Ala d'Oro (Golden Wing). Alberto Pagani's 9th place on the 250's Dutch TT debut in 1960 demonstrated the bike's potential, which was confirmed the following week when Pagani finished 5th at the Belgian Grand Prix. The need for more power led to short-stroke engine dimensions (of 72mm x 61mm) being adopted on the 250 for 1964, by which time a 350cc version had appeared. With increased power came increasing unreliability, necessitating a re-design for 1966 when larger flywheels, modified piston and connecting rod, dry clutch and wider gears were among improvements introduced. The works concentrated on developing its new 250 two-stroke twin from the late 1960s onwards, but before then had introduced a bob-weight crankshaft, external flywheel and new crankcases with an extra main bearing on its four-stroke single. Although the pushrod Aermacchi never won a World Championship race, it did achieve a number of 2nd places, Alan Barnett's in the 1970 Junior TT being one of the most memorable. Despite a lack of ultimate success in Grands Prix, the Aermacchi single was outstandingly successful at national level and, having benefited from another three decades of development, remains a competitive force in historic motorcycle racing today.
The well-known example offered here was owned and campaigned for many years by the late Mal Kirwan, the Wirral-based solicitor and specialist in motorcycle accident claims, who died in January 2011. Mal Kirwan was an experienced Isle of Man competitor. He first raced in the Manx Grand Prix in 1969, graduating to the TT in 1975. His best result was 6th place in the Formula 3 TT in 1977 riding a Honda. According to the Isle of Man TT Database, he last raced on the Island in the 1996 MGP Classic Junior event, though there is evidence that suggests his career there continued past that point in less high-profile events such as the Pre-TT meeting. It is not known when he last raced the Aermacchi.
Mal owned the Aermacchi for many years and seems to have retained every bill associated with its upkeep as well as amassing a wealth of technical data and set-up information. Indeed, the accompanying history is the most extensive we have ever seen for any motorcycle, consisting of files and folders weighing some 18lbs (8.2kgs). The machine also comes with a substantial quantity of spares to include a fairing, fuel tank, swinging arm, assorted engine components and alternative sprockets (close inspection recommended).