When Man And Machine Meet, Time And Again
This 1975 Moto Guzzi S3 750 you see here recently completed a two-year restoration by its owner, contemporary Australian artist Cliff Drevermann, but it arrived at its destination via a very circuitous route.
Out of approximately 950 S3 750s produced by Moto Guzzi, it’s estimated only 14 came to Australia. The first owner of this bike was Bruce Hoggins, a motorcycle dealer in NSW who bought the bike new and promptly crashed it, resulting in largely cosmetic damage.
It was then purchased by Australian motorcycle racer and legendary BMW builder, Paul Rooney. While Paul was spannering for a race team in Europe in 1982, he visited Concessionaria Agostini srl Mandello del Lario and acquired a lightened flywheel for the bike and a set of magnesium alloy timing gears. This kit is still in use in the current engine.
After racing the bike for some years, Paul sold it to a friend, Neil Reynolds, who then sold it in 1988 to Queensland retail identity Phil Beaumont, which is where Cliff first sighted it. He took it for a test ride and, in his words, fell in love with it.
Most relationships have their ups and downs and Cliff found himself two years later back at Phil Beaumont’s trading the Guzzi in on a Ducati 600 Pantah.
Cliff worked out almost immediately he’d made a terrible mistake.
“Luckily, although they weren’t my thoughts at the time, the Pantah broke down on its first ride and I ended up pleading with Phil to return the Guzzi to its rightful owner. To his credit, and despite him having already made an arrangement with another dealer for the bike, he relented and the Guzzi returned to my keeping,” Cliff said.
Events conspired in 1994 to convince Cliff that his motorcycle riding days were over so he sold the bike a second time to Nick Holloway in Brisbane. It was in pieces at the time and the price was $3200, two grand less than he’d paid Phil Beaumont for it in the first place.
Holloway’s rebuild was swift and successful and the bike received an award at the Laverda Club of Queensland Concourse just a year later.
Ten years after this, not only not having owned another bike but also not even having ridden one during that period, Cliff found himself idly Googling ‘750 S3’.
“To my astonishment, there was my Guzzi for sale. I rang Nick and he kindly agreed to sell it back to me,” he says. The price was $10,000.
Cliff was back on two wheels and reunited with the love of his life. He rode regularly after that and only stopped a few years ago when the engine snapped an exhaust valve. Since he had to pull the engine down, he decided on a full restoration.
Typical of Guzzi engines, the bottom end was in good shape. Cliff sourced new barrels and pistons and rebuilt the heads.
Attempting to return the bike to its original condition had its challenges. There were three Guzzi sportsbikes around in that part of the 1970s: the V7 Sport, the 750S and the 750 S3. Many Le Mans parts will fit as well, so throughout their lives Guzzis often become a patchwork of parts from different models.
The S3 was the first Guzzi sports model with linked brakes. Cliff had destroyed the rear brake rotor by starting the engine in gear while the bike was on its centrestand and forgetting to remove the anti-theft disc lock he’d fitted. Finding a correct rotor proved a real headache. Surprisingly, given the S3 was never sent to the US, he found not one but two rotors there and acquired both.
Small, detail parts were also hard to acquire and it took him six months to find the three rubber bushes on the brake hose brackets. He also found that in order to get some small parts, he had to buy whole assemblies.
One tactic Cliff used to find bits was to refine his Google searches by using the original part numbers. This pretty-well ensures you get the authentic item.
Two years and $15,000 later (not, of course, counting labour), Cliff has the bike you can see here. It’s clocked around 3500km since the rebuild and goes as well as it looks.
Cliff entered the bike in the 2015 Motorclassica which is where we got to meet it. Cliff says that despite it being in other people’s hands on occasions, he always had a sense that it was ‘his’ bike.
“In 25 years of ownership, I’ve sold the bike twice and managed to buy it back both times.”
Some things are meant to be.