1968 Benelli 349cc "Wards Riverside"
(Featured 5th January 2012)
Model: Wards Riverside
Sellers original description:
1968 Benelli 349cc 'Wards Riverside' (very rare example)
Frame no. H221 13757.
Engine no. HS 37864.
During the 1950s and 1960s the American department store chain and mail order business Montgomery Ward (later Wards) sold various mopeds, motorcycles and scooters, including those of Motobecane, Lambretta, Mitsubishi, Bianchi and Benelli, the latter's products being marketed under the 'Wards Riverside' brand name. This example of a Benelli sold new in the USA was purchased from a dealer in Southport having (it is believed) previously formed part of a private collection in Ireland. The machine was then stripped down and rebuilt, discarding the front end but retaining the original frame, swinging arm, tank, rear hub and the complete engine. 'New-old-stock' Paoli forks for a Ducati Pantah were fitted and taper-roller head bearings modified to suit. A Grimeca 4LS front brake was acquired and the wheels rebuilt with 18" alloy rims and stainless spokes/nipples. They were then shod with 'new-old-stock' Dunlop 'triangular' racing tyres. Other noteworthy features include Sebac shock absorbers, new clip-ons and control levers, Norton rear-sets, an Elliot rev counter and Boyer electronic ignition running 'total loss', the charging circuit having been removed. When stripped the engine was found to be perfect inside apart from the piston rings. Unable to source correct original rings, the owner machined the piston to accept slightly wider Royal Enfield rings. The cylinder head was in good shape, the valves only needing a regrind. The camshaft and oil pump were found to be in good condition also, as were the clutch and gearbox. To improve the breathing a special inlet manifold was made to take a 28mm Mikuni carburettor (replacing the existing 24mm Bing).
A stainless exhaust system finished the look.
As can be imagined, the noise from the 5" megaphone is glorious.
An ideal machine for classic parading or the occasional 'old timer' track day.