1988 Morini Dart 350
Tom Farrow, Northampton, England
“So futuristic, a spaceship. I was only eight, but I was hooked”
“MY MORINI DART fascination goes back to the late ’80s: I grew up in Croydon, and I remember seeing one in a Morini dealership there. It was so futuristic – like a spaceship. I was only eight, but I was hooked. Morinis were in my blood from then on.
“My dad actually owned a few, and the first bike I passed my test on was a 125 Morini. I bought this Dart while I was going for my full licence at 17. It was an Italian import and I managed to scrape together £1100 to buy it from a stand at the 2001 Stafford Show.
“It needed a bit of work but mechanically it was OK. It was reasonably low mileage, about 14,000 miles which had all been done in Italy, not too wet or rusty, but the bodywork was cracked. It was nigh on impossible to get the panels back then and mine was in OK condition so could be repaired. The Morini Riders Club (morini-riders-club.com) might make some moulds in future.
“Chassis parts are not too bad to come by, and they share quite a few with the Cagiva Freccia. And Freccias are cheap compared to Darts. Footpegs, all the handlebar controls and switchgear, front forks and brakes, both wheels – these are all Freccia parts that fit the Dart. The fork internals are slightly different on the Dart but fundamentally the same.
“The instruments were specific to the Dart as they had the Morini logo on them but the gauges themselves are the same as the Freccia. North Leicester Motorcycles (northleicestermotorcycles. com) do a lot of engine parts.
“Mine’s got a 500 engine so my restoration was a bit of a modification. The 500 engine is basically a scaled-up version of the 350 motor. It’s an easy-ish task to fit because the engines are much the same size.
“Darts are neutral steering and lightweight – easy to handle. I wanted to retain that, so everything done has been to keep that but with more power.
“They come up for sale from time to time but they’re rare. Mechanically they’re fairly easy to work on and the parts you’ll need are fairly easy. Get one that’s got good bodywork, and a good fuel tank. That’s the absolute key. They don’t rust that much or suffer with age. They’ve aged so well in fact that they’re not actually that widely restored.”
Stealth paint and with a 500 engine – good work