CARDANI 500 TRIPLE
A bold gamble 50 years ago resulted in a four-stroke triple GP racer to take on mighty MV
At the end of 1966 brake manufacturer Daniele Fontana decided to make a 500cc triple to take on the might of MV Agusta, planning sell them to privateers to open up the factory-dominated blue riband GP class. He was helped by Lino Tonti, who had worked on the Bianchi racing twins and later the Linto. Carlo Savaré added hard cash to the project. Inspired by the 1966 MV triple, Daniele chose the same short-stroke dimensions of 62 x 55mm for 497cc, with a 120° crank, like the MV. A train of five gears off the right-side end of the crankshaft drove the overhead cams. A high-pressure oil pump, driven by the same gear train, was bolted to the outside of the case. Crankcases and the head were cast in lightweight Elektron. Alloy cylinder muffs with austenitic iron liners were tipped forward by 30° to lower the height and help cool the cylinder heads. Primary drive was through straight-cut gears on the left, with a six-speed gearbox (later seven) bolted to the rear of the crankcase to make a semi-unit construction. The dry clutch was mounted outside the primary drive case, while a finned sump carried the oil.
The frame was based closely on the Mcintyre Matchless that Jack Findlay raced at GPS built by Bob Mcintyre around a 500cc Matchless G50 single. Manx Roadholder forks replaced the Cerianis favoured by MV, and of course Fontana brakes were fitted. British-made Girling shocks were later swapped for Ceriani, and the alloy wheel rims were Borrani.
Brit Bill Jakeman made the 28-litre tank and fairing. The Cardani suffered from a lack of development and the friends ran out of time and money to get their baby sorted. By then, twostroke domination was on the horizon and a 350cc Yamaha twin in a Mcintyre Matchless frame seemed a better bet.
1 Triple was fed by three 32mm Dell’orto bodies and two Amal GP Matchbox float chambers 2 So much potential. So little cash. 3 Frame was based on the Mcintyre G50 Jack Findlay raced in GPS 4 Antique lights dealer Renzo Bruini bought the Cardani 25 years ago 5 Four-valve head was cast in Elektron as a single unit 5 Bruno rides the Cardani at classic events in Europe