South Africa – Stan Copelowitz – Roma Guzzi

Remembered as South Africa’s only dealer, Roma Guzzi’s Stan Copelowitz was actually the importer to what was then a rapidly growing country. Little to no information about SA or its moto-culture was published in the US press, but Copelowitz looked to expand the brand by tapping into the endurance racing craze, which had now reached the area. “Stan wasn’t really a bike guy at all, and he had no interest in racing,” says racer/author Steve Kealy, Roma’s sales manager between 1981-83. “Like many before, Stan realized that racing was a valuable marketing tool. John Clark, our Cape Town salesman raced an 850 previously and Richard Prince (now in Australia) raced the 850 II. They did rather better in long-distance events”

As covered in the ‘Meet an Owner’ section below, the first information I received about Copelowitz and Roma Guzzi came from Gary Danielz – a key contributor to this series. In 1980, Gary’s father, Frank Danielz, purchased a heavily modified V1000 Le Mans new from Copelowitz, who said the V1000-spec performance work had been done at Agostini. Frank Danielz eventually sold the bike, but it was spotted years later by Gary and brought home to the UK. “Alistair Janczuk (yet another racer, but not always Guzzi) was the sales manager when Frank’s bike was sold, so he might know more details. By my time, the 850 Le Mans II had been replaced by the LM3.” Now living in Australia, Janczuk did not return our messages.

“We built and registered the V1000 Le Mans IIIs in Johannesburg from stock bikes,” says Kealy. “These had gold stickers saying “Special” added to the side cover. Workshop manager Joe Pereira fitted the 950 barrels and fairings in the workshop at Roma Guzzi. I recall the fairing brackets were made locally and replacing the timing chain were modified 850GT gear sets. I also don’t believe the flywheels were lightened, though they may have been balanced against the new pistons, which I recall as having flat tops. Guzzi’s ‘CR’ gearbox were straight-cut (part of Moto Guzzi’s PR racing kit) and different ratios were available. Dell’Orto 40mm carbs were what was available – sans chokes, and not especially fitted with the float-depressors. There was no air-filter on the intakes. Yes, Marzocchi Strada shocks replaced the execrable Paolis of the day but frankly, solid struts would have been better! As road-bikes the ‘Agostinis’ (or SA’s versions anyway) were especially nice to ride, even with the noisy gearbox, increased fuel consumption and extra vibration.”

Meet an Owner: Gary Danielz – 1980 Moto Guzzi V1000 Le Mans II

Only sixty Le Mans V1000 II models were sent to Germany, meaning there’s little chance you’ll run across one. If you do, the trained eye might spot the matching red Marzocchis or choke-less Dell’Ortos, but hundreds of copies have come since and 1000cc conversions were common. “These are mythical motorcycles, drawing odd looks of doubt from other Guzzisti when discussed,” says V1000 ace Gary Danielz. One look at Gary’s red racer pins it as classic, but it’s what you can’t see that matters most. “As a long time Guzzisti I’d never really gotten past dad’s V1000 Le Mans. Bought back sight unseen save for a few eBay pics, I wasn’t aware the Le Mans was my father’s old machine until finding the family name at registration. Before now few took the production of these seriously. Those I’ve told probably thought I’d made the entire thing up.”

Well aware of the conflict between his motorcycle and the models built in South Africa described by Steve Kealy. Danielz can only point to his registration history and the long list of Agostini parts (and technique) dotting the bike. “Stan told my father the bike came from Agostini, and was the second one sold from the shipment. Both prepped for racing. There’s even a rumor SA got a number of Agostini V1000 Le Mans before DMB in Germany did, but it’s unconfirmed.” Sadly, with Copelowitz passing some years ago and factors beyond our control, the questions remain. We can say Frank Danielz’ preference of the Stucchi fairing takes nothing away in terms of style, and that mixes with other odd-parts changing over the years. As previously noted, this is by far the most difficult aspect of researching any special production machine. Time holds many secrets.  

“Cold starts with the ticklers takes some practice,” says Danielz. “Everything being right, a couple of quick jabs has it running on the button. Flood it, and fuel will run out the carb mouth onto the starter solenoid.” Not available from Agostini until the later V1000 III, Gary’s Le Mans once fit the close-ratio gearbox, but a previous owner returned to the standard shafts, trading high end flexibility for low speed driveability. “There’s a fair amount of work in taking it back, but we’re in the process of doing just that. Dad also had a 850 Le Mans II, and the work done basically transforms the 1000 to feel like its on steroids. The difference between the two is very little, and vast all at once. Both sit the same but the Agostini is more rigid, whereas the 850 II is fluid and natural. Basically, the V1000 has bags more power and much longer legs.” Nolan Woodbury

1980 V1000 Le Mans IIRoma Guzzi, South Africa

942cc VE-code OHV 90-degree 2v twin
Bore/stroke: 88 x 78mm
Five-speed, shaft drive
Two PHM 40mm Dell’Ortos (40mm inlet port), 43mm intake valve, 47mm exhaust, heavier springs, Camshaft: N/A. Agostini Ergal gear drive, 40mm headers, Lafranconi competition mufflers. Agostini frame breather
Steel tube cradle w/detachable side rails, Moto Guzzi 35mm forks and Marzocchi/AG Strada shocks 2.15 x 18” FPS cast aluminum wheels, Brembo linked brakes w/cast iron rotors
Stucchi fiberglass fairing, Tarozzi rearset controls
Wet weight: 500-lb
Top speed: 137=mph


Assorted Moto Guzzi V1000 Le Mans and Bol d’Or specials

German press photos, Agostini/DMB V1000 Le Mans prototype

Alfred Bajohr 992cc w/Menani body, Krajka 850 Le Mans, Menani/Europlast advert, Agostini 4v specials, 1983 DMB 960cc

Mick Walker – UK importer for Agostini, Stucchi V1000 Le Mans II (mad crush!) V1000 ‘Ruote d’ Epoca’, Agostini V1000 Le Mans II club poster

850 Le Mans Bol d’Or, foggy Le Mans (Johannes Janotta) Stucchi/Motoplast Le Mans 850 III. Sold: Agostini/DMB V1000, German Le Mans 1000 advert

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