Laverda 100 History
This short version of the history of the small Laverda motorcycles (75cc and 100cc) is meant to put my 1956 100 Sport into context with other models. It is mainly based on readings in three superb books on Laverda motorcycles:
- “Laverda”, by Raymond Ainscoe and Tim Parker (Osprey Books, 1991)
- “Moto Laverda, The Story of a Passion”, by Bruno Tamiello and Paolo Palma (PPS Editore, Limited Edition, 1997)
- “Legendary Laverda”, by Jean-Louis Olive and Stephen Battisson (ETAI, 2006)
As with all histories, there is room for disagreement about certain points. I’ve tried to indicate where I’ve found such uncertainty.
Ainscoe and Parker wrote about the origins of “Laverda” in the broadest sense. During the Roman Empire, a guard post was situated in the foothill of the Dolomites in modern-day northeastern Italy. The latin word for such an encampment, “guardia”, evolved over time into “la warda”, then “Lavarda”, and finally “Laverda”, which was taken as a name by some of the people who lived there. In the 18th century some of the Laverdas moved a little south to a village called Breganze, which in the 19th century found itself in the midst of a major industrial region. An enterprising Laverda named Pietro established a small company that manufactured agricultural equipment, which grew steadily and remained the main business of the Laverda family up to and through most of the era in which they branched off into making motorcycles (it was sold to Fiat in 1978). This is perhaps a good place to mention that the correct pronunciation of the family name is not “La-VER-da”. The emphasis is on the first syllable, “LA-ver-da”.
In the late 1940s, the dominant Laverda in the manufacturing business was Francesco. In 1948 he decided to see about getting into the motorcycle business, which was exploding at that time, due to the demand for cheap transportation. Over the course of a year he designed a 75cc 4-stroke motorcycle and built the prototype in his shop at home, then five more for friends in 1949. At this point it became clear that a formal company should be set up to handle the motorcycle business, Moto Laverda SpA. The 75 went through extensive development for the first few years of manufacture but by 1953 the form stabilized and further changes were minor.
In 1953 the 100 model (actually 98cc) was introduced by increasing both bore and stroke of the 75, from 46×45 to 52×47 mm. Both displacements were produced in Turismo and Sport versions, plus a limit-production model called Milano-Taranto or MT for competition use,