During the late 1960s and early 1970s Laverda faced intense competition, not just from the Japanese makers with their flashy multi-cylindered superbikes, but also from more local rivals like Benelli, Ducati and Moto Guzzi. So, in 1968, and while launching its new range of 750cc twins, the Breganze company started work on Massimo Laverda’s brainchild – a new big-capacity three-cylinder motor. First revealed in prototype form at the 1969 Milan and Geneva shows, the chain-driven single overhead cam 1,000cc 120° triple was essentially a 750 twin with an additional cylinder.
Although pipped to market by Kawasaki’s spectacular Z1, the new 5-speed 3C could hold its own in any company. With 80hp and 86Nm of torque the 3C could match the Z1’s 130mph top speed, while its 214kg dry weight bettered the weightier Z1. The 3C’s conservative but brutish styling was appealing, as was its distinctive engine and exhaust note, while a sportier riding position, beefy forks and superior rear suspension units allowed it to out-handle the Oriental flexi-flyers of the day. Although the big Laverda’s ventilated twin-leading shoe front brake was effective, drums had already become a little dated.
The matching-numbers 3C here was first registered in 1973 and was one of the first produced, in June/July 1973, shortly before motorcycle production transferred to a new factory. These facts are confirmed in a 2008 letter from Piero Laverda to the then owner. Also confirmed is that the Laverda 3C was Italy’s first one-litre production bike, and that it was the first production machine to break the 210km/h (130.4mph) barrier. This 3C has also been treated to a full restoration, to correct specifications, with work completed in 2008. It has spent its entire life in Italy, with the current owner purchasing it shortly after the restoration.
With Laverda in long-term hibernation at the behest of the owning Piaggio Group, this is a rare opportunity to acquire a beautiful early example of what is arguably the marque’s greatest model.