In the custom world of four wheels, an engine swap is not only nothing to write home about, it’s practically par for the course. LS engines go into everything from American Muscle to 4x4s every day of the week, and the all-conquering JDM motors of the 90s are still fan favourites. Rarely, however, do we see such conversions carried out in our own scene, but this Moto Guzzi is more than just a big block swap; it is the natural progression of a man who continues to take his bike building skills to all-new heights. Enter Marco of Matteucci Garage who presents this stunning Moto Guzzi NTX750 ‘La Tana’, that gets full points for custom cool as he throws off the shackles of convention.

Marco Matteucci is not your average bike builder and he’s the first one to admit it, “I’m not a mechanic. Not even close, I would not offend the category. Not even a car repair shop (save them too). I’m an Italian graphic/advertising photographer of over twenty years.” That was until 2013 when after years of owning, riding and loving motorcycles he came to a realisation.

He’d never actually so much as changed the oil on his own bikes, so he decided to take a crash course in understanding these machines that gave him so much joy. The first part of that process was to go on the hunt for an old bike he could rip to pieces and he headed for a nearby used motorcycle dealer. He actually came away with “four old ladies” as he calls them, and not only were they torn apart, but three were reborn as absolutely brilliant custom bikes. It turns out he was a bike builder after all and for the last decade, he’s been refining his style, which challenges convention and applies his natural talent for a sexy design. One of those first builds was a Guzzi V35, later he built another, and then another and this bike would start as a V35 too.

But the first step in this build was to strip the bike down to just the chassis and begin to prepare it for an engine conversion. The stock 350cc engine with its 35bhp was set aside and in goes the 750cc v-twin from the same period, that even with less compression makes 60bhp, and more importantly, double the torque! That’s a pump-up in power that no tuning part save for serious forced induction is going to help you achieve. And the new engine wouldn’t stay stock either, but not before the block, gearbox and final drive were given a refresh and the clutch and valve covers finished in matte black.

Now to up the power, and the headers are handbuilt to follow the neatest line rearward and have been finished in a ceramic coat, an excellent idea on an air-cooled engine. The slash cut chrome mufflers add a little bling to the show and the carbs have been rejetted for the job, before being fitted with their own pod filters on custom inlet tubes. But now with big block power, it was time to take a left turn, and a HD derived springer front end is the first piece of the puzzle. Marco made all of the necessary adaptors for it to fit, as well as the bars and brackets which are done in aluminium.

A cut piece of billet allows for the Brembo caliper off the Guzzi to clamp a big disc brake and it was time to turn attention to the rear end. Again, convention is kicked to the curve, with Marco building a completely custom swingarm, pivot points and mounts and then having done the calculations he found that the right shock to fit the mono conversion came from a Yamaha R1! This change also meant that a new subframe would be required, and with the chassis cut to suit, a new hooped rear end was fabricated in-house.

On top of all of this new metalwork is that sumptuous seat, “All the leather work is handcrafted, made in collaboration with Bottega Vasì (Mauro Testella), starting from a soft calfskin left natural for the saddle and stiffened for the creation of the tank band with touch screen window, phone holder and the purse under saddle.” But there was more metal manipulation to follow, as the square Guzzi tank just didn’t work and Marco has replaced it with an old Laverda 125 item, that he has beautifully reshaped.

“The colour was achieved with a manual coating of layers of different colours to have a lived-in effect and an intense tobacco colour to match the pearly skylight blue of the bike.” Then to complete the classic lines the bike now wears an old-school bates headlight that was adapted to the front end and the electrics were hidden as much as possible, including the all-new Dynatek electronic ignition. The switch gear is all mini buttons for a subtle modern touch and there is some 21st-century gadgetry too, with a GPS/Speedo combo mounted into the tank.

‘La Tana’ Marco tells us means cave or den of a wild beast, and Davide the new owner is ready to saddle up and hit the road on his big block steed.

[ Matteucci Garage ]