In the early 1970s I recall visiting motorcycle dealerships, collecting brochures on the Benelli Sei and Tornado and looking - a little disdainfully - at the Benelli 250 2C models sitting, mostly ignored, in the corner of the showrooms. To a young schoolboy all that mattered were standing quarter mile times and top speed. The poor Benelli couldn't match the new RD Yamahas. To make things worse, like my Bantam, the bike had no autolube - the petroil had to be premixed. On top of that a price tag 20% above the RD. No wonder I didn't even collect a brochure on it!
Thirty years on I read a great article on the Benelli 2C in the September 2007 Classic Motorcycle & Mechanics magazine. Rather than the overpriced underperformer I remembered, the bike was now being considered in classic terms and it was ticking all the boxes. A sturdy engine with performance only decimal points off the RD (these days who cares about decimal points?), a chassis which proved to deliver impeccable handling and mouth-watering Italian hardware; Magnesium double sided Grimeca front brakes, polished alloy Marzocchi triple clamp and front forks, Tomaselli grips and controls, Silentium silencers, Inox stainless guards, Sanremo flanged rims, Aprilia electronics. Stuff of dreams. These are bikes well worth owning - I just had to find one. The hunt was on!
No more than two weeks after I decided that my shed really needed a Benelli 2C .... you guessed it ... a bike was listed on Ebay. The seller was located less than 20km from me and the bike looked just the sort of project I was after. I plunged into the auction with a sensible "I'm going to buy that at any cost" attitude. I need to keep away from Ebay! I won the auction against no other bidders. There is a lesson there.
Before the sale the seller was very candid about the bike and its shortcomings so I have no-one but myself to blame!
So what had I purchased? Sure, it was the project of my dreams but away from the heady excitement of the auction what was the downside? Well, there was plenty. Firstly, rust. The bike had obviously spent years in the open. If it was metal it was rusted. Just check out the photo on the left. There was plenty missing. Both guards were gone - and the rear guard and taillight were nice Yamaha items. There were no carbys. There was no airbox or tooltray. There was no kickstart lever. In fact the kickstart shaft was snapped off level with the crankcase. The electrics were, well, let's not dwell on that yet. What is left of the electrical system is dangling off the bike..