Moto Guzzi’s first attempt at a customer race bike was the pre-war GTC, a development of the GTV, which although reliable was handicapped by its roadster origins. The GTC was superseded in 1938 by the GTC/L (L = Leggera = Lightweight) which used cycle parts similar to those of the works team’s supercharged 250 Grand Prix racer. First seen in 1939, the successor Condor model was Guzzi’s first successful purpose-built production racer and would be revamped after WW2 as the legendary Dondolino (rocking chair).
Although the GTC/L was lighter than the GTC the Condor took the process a stage further, aluminum alloy being used for the cylinder barrel and head. The GTC/L had won the production class on its debut outing at the Circuito del Lario in 1938, rider Ugo Prini setting a new lap record. For the 1939 race the improved Condor was entered in the competition class against pukka Grand Prix racers, including Dorino Serafini on the blown Gilera four. Ridden by future World Champion, Nello Pagani, the works Condor ran out the winner despite having less than half the total horsepower of Serafini’s Gilera, an astonishing victory that emphatically demonstrated the Condor’s potential. In total, 69 Condors were built prior to the cessation of production in 1940.
As discovered, the Guzzi had an aluminum cylinder barrel and head, magnesium crankcases, engine covers and hubs/brakes, and 21″ alloy-rimmed wheels – all hallmarks of the exotic Condor production racer. The aforementioned correspondence speculates that the machine could possibly have been transformed in this way on its return to the factory in 1938/39, as the GTC/L was already close to the Condor specification. The Condor had almost certainly never been raced, for it had retained all its original road equipment – lights, toolboxes, kick-start, baffled silencer, etc – that normally were stripped off for competition.