Monday, November 5, 2007

Q&A: Classic Legnano

QUESTION:
Jim,
I was wondering if you could help me? I have a Legnano "Gran Premio" model that I believe we bought in Rome around late 1959 or 1960 (serial #EH2957.) The frame is Legnano's yellow/green with chrome fork-ends and thin red pin striping. It is a 10 speed (5+2) with a Campagnolo "Gran Sport" gearset with cable-style gear levers (for both front and rear) on a screw-tightened clip on the sloping front frame tube. The brakes are "Universal Extra" side-pulls with what appear to be natural rubber covers over the mechanisms. The handlebars are low racing-type and originally had red cloth tape around them, but this was changed to white (which was available to me at the time) when the red got dirty.

The original aluminum plugs at the ends of the handlebars are still there. The wheels are thin racing type quick removables (lever marked "Campagnolo") with tubeless tires and appear to be about 28". The pedals have toe-clips with leather covers and straps. There are original clip on aluminum fenders...front and rear...which are painted and badged the same as the bike (yellow/green with a bare aluminum strip down the center and a legnano decal on the front of the front fender and at the rear of the rear fender.) The long, narrow leather seat is marked "Italia" and there is a Legnano "lug" at the base of it's support tube. There is a matching air-pump released by a small spring-loaded pin at the top (this is all clipped onto the frame and can be moved or removed).

The front badge appears to be cast metal pinned on and there is a "Bozzi" decal at the top of the downtube under the seat, and below that there is a decal that states: "Campione del Mondo 1958-59". There are other decals and white rings (5) on the frame as well and on the sloping front tube near the steering head there is another that states: Legnano Gran Premio.

The bike is completely original, in good condition (needs some clean-up and touch-up) and I am the only owner from new. In fact, I still have the little "Legnano" pennant that came with the bike. For many years, it has hung by its frame on nylon cords from the ceiling of an air-conditioned garage. I am trying to determine a) its value (both as-is and restored) b) approx. what it would cost to restore it and who, if anyone, specializes in Legnano, and c) anything else I can find out about that bike, or the marque in that generation bike. I haven't yet decided what I am going to do with it.... whether to restore it and save it for one of my grandsons when he is old enough to appreciate it or to sell it.

I would greatly appreciate any help or direction you could give me. Pictures can be made available if that would help.

Thanks,
Steve

ANSWER:
Thanks for the email, Steve. That sounds like a very nice bike. I'd enjoy seeing some pictures if you take some. You can learn more about Legnanos and maybe even find a picture of a bike like yours at this link on the Classic Rendezvous website:
http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Italy/Legnano/Legnano_main.htm


In terms of value, it's hard to put an exact price on any old bicycle, but from how you described your bike, and assuming it's a reasonable frame size that many people would fit (not too huge or too tiny), I would suspect it would sell on today's market for from $1,000 to $2,500. But, this really depends on exactly what you have. If you had a rare Legnano model with all original parts with good paint, decals and chrome, there's a chance it might go for upwards of $3,000. This is just an educated guess, though. Like any collectible, value is in the eye of the buyer and if you have the right bike and can find the right buyer it's possible it might go for even more. But, this gives you a ballpark idea based on what other classic Italian road bikes like yours have sold for.

I would advise you not to do anything to it until you find out more about it. In most cases you'll significantly decrease the value if you do any kind of restoration. In most cases collectors want the bike to be all original. As they say, you can't restore originality. Once you strip the paint, original decals, etc. you essentially have taken a classic and made it new, and the serious collectors don't want a new bike, they want the original old bike with all of its blemishes.. the same way a furniture collector wants the original finish on the Shaker chest of drawers.

One thing you could do to find out more about your bike and have some fun talking about it and showing it off would be to sign up for the www.classicrendezvous.com email list. Every day collectors and cyclists interested in vintage 10-speeds like yours add to the ongoing conversation. It's free to sign up and once you do you start receiving the daily postings and can put in your comments. If you did that and posted links to pictures of your bike I'm sure you'd hear from a lot of Legnano lovers who would really appreciate hearing about yours.

Hope this is helpful and I look forward to seeing your Legnano pictures at
some point,
Jim

2 comments:

Bridgie said...

I have a Legnano that I believe may be around 50 years old. I had used it as a traing bike after I gave up racing but unfortunately I had it repainted many years ago. it has not been riden for perhaps the last 15 years. Do you know where I may be able to get new decals?

Bicycle Aficionado www.jimlangley.net said...

Hi Bridgie,
Follow the link in my post above to classicrendezvous.com and join their email list and ask about decals and you might just find some old ones or find a way to have some new ones made.

Jim