The history of classic vehicles can be almost as interesting than the actual vehicle. Case in point: this 1968 Benelli Wards Riverside 350. It’s an Italian motorcycle that was sold to consumers in the United States through Montgomery Ward, the department store. The fact people purchased motorcycles that way in the late 1960s shows how different times were back then.
There’s no confirmation, but that two-tone blue and silver paint looks like a relatively fresh coat. It presents well with a nice shine to it, matching the chrome plating on the luggage rack, exhaust, etc. The nice long saddle should accommodate two, and it’s in fantastic condition with no rips or splits visible.
As the name suggests, this bike uses a 350cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine. It’s not a fiery muscle machine, but the official top speed for this Benelli is 80 mph, if you’re brave enough to try for that. It was a product of Italy’s effort to provide affordable, reliable transportation for its citizens in the wake of WWII and beyond, instead of putting hardcore performance at your command.
Benelli started in Pesaro, Italy way back in 1911, making it one of the country’s oldest motorcycle manufacturers. The brand had early racing successes that helped it survive the economic, political, and military turmoil that embroiled Europe all the way through the end of WWII. Of course, during the war Benelli manufactured motorcycles for the military, then its production line was destroyed by the Allies. Over time the company bounced back with a series of growing successes, like this motorcycle.
Since then, Benelli has passed hands and even shut down for a time, but recently made a rebound. While you might see these old Riverside models occasionally on the market, they’re not as plentiful as some brands, making for a more unique item to add to your garage, all thanks to Orlando Auto Museum.
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