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

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