Scenes from an Italian motorcycle shop

Sandwiched between a computer repair shop and an estate sale office is an unassuming tricolor building. What’s left of the sign belays the wonderful contents that hide inside this corrugated treasure chest. Moto Guzzi Classics is one of the few places in Southern California where one can go to service their old Guzzis.

Mark Etheridge the owner/operator of MGC says that he has been working on these bikes for over 30 years. For the last 20 of those years, he has been occupying this Signal Hill shop.

Moto Guzzi is one of the oldest brands that has been in continuous production since its inception in 1921. These days the Genoa company is better known for its Bonneville fighting V7 series of bikes.  However, in the past, their TT bikes piloted by Stanely Woods proved triumphant at the Isle of Man.

Etheridge has filled his shop floor to ceiling with old Guzzi parts. If you wanted to fix one of these old bikes this shop is probably the best place to start.

What originally attracted Etheridge to working on Guzzi’s was their simplicity. “I used to be into the Volkswagen scene and these are probably as close as you can get in a bike to those engines,” says Etheridge.

Hiding in the corner of the shop is a Chrysler Valiant that Mark has used to acquire multiple records for drag racing. To this end, he still holds the record for a slant-6 powered car at Sonoma raceway and reckons that at his peak held 11 records at once. Despite his racing career, Etheridge says he has no interest in racing motorcycles.

“I hate motorcycles! They’re deathtraps”! – Mark Etheridge

When Etheridge started there were upwards of 30 bikes to work on. These days its more like five to seven.

Even with 30 years of tools scattered around the shop Mark is able to find what he is looking for with relative ease. It’s almost as if he has some sort of sixth sense.

Etheridge’s attention to detail helps him stand out against the competition. He says that he would rather do the job correctly for his customer rather than have an extra thousand dollars in his pocket.

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6 responses to “Scenes from an Italian motorcycle shop”

  1. ms Avatar

    Mandello Del Lario, rather than Genoa.
    Great photos with an interesting subject.

  2. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
    dead_elvis, inc.

    I’d expect an old BMW airhead to be slightly closer to the spirit & architecture of an ACWV flat four, since Guzzi twins actually have an exhaust note worth hearing.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Just for clarification: ACWV = Air Cooled Wolfsburg Vehicles of course 😉

      1. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
        dead_elvis, inc.

        Dammit – uh, yeah, that’s exactly what I meant!

    2. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

      An airhead with more open mufflers sounds a lot like an old British twin since the firing interval is the same. My R100s has Norton Peashooter mufflers and is great for frightening Harley riders, as well as dropping them.

  3. outback_ute Avatar

    Chrysler Valiant as in an Aussie car?!?

    I wonder how long the ‘G’ has been sitting beside that yellow toolbox?