As we have seen, this fascinating project came to a very premature end in 1978 when the FIM banned six cylinder bikes from endurance racing. At that point just one complete bike existed - the race bike which then became the object of fascination by enthusiasts for decades hence. But what of the others? Let's examine the details of all the Vee Sixes that have been seen then, it does not take long...

1977 Prototype

1977 V6 Prototype

For historical purposes I shall call the bike displayed at the 1977 Milan show the "Prototype". This machine had the short swingarm, single underslung rear shock, thin-web FLAM wheels unique to the bike but resembling the production 1000/1200 wheels, 30mm carbs and smooth flowing bodywork. As the Vee Six project developed, this bike was disassembled, its components either put into storage, modified for use in the racebike project as it progressed, or simply discarded.

And so, after late 1977 this bike simply ceased to exist.

1978 Race Bike

1978 Racebike This is the machine we all know and love, competing in the 1978 Bol'd'Or. The initial period after its competition appearance saw it housed at the factory and occasionally given a run around the test track for visitors. It then ended up at Massimo's house for many years, though brought out for the occasional high profile event its reclusive life at that time only added to the legend it had developed.

As Massimo's health declined, Piero assumed the role of the bike's "primary carer" and it began a life of increasing exposure. Piero began to show the bike at the increasingly popular "Parade" events, where historic vehicles can circulate on the track without actually racing. In this capacity the machine has been enjoyed by thousands of people in Europe, the UK and even the USA. Though wonderful to see it out and about, something of the mythical allure that surrounded this bike throughout the 80's and 90's has been lost.

It is still almost exactly as-raced in 1978. The tyres have been changed, new stickers on the tank 'Menani' and '' and the substitution of the distinctive megaphones with open slash cut pipes - in Piero's words "to make more noise!". The bike as-raced actually had unpainted valve covers so obviously when the driveshaft was changed some other servicing and minor changes were done to the engine.

1991 Zanini Vee Six

1991 Zanini V6 In the tumultuous days of the late 80's early 90's Laverda was acquired by an odd Japanese/Italian alliance. This is generally referred to as the Zanini period, after the Italian side of the consortium. In 1991 it was announced that Laverda would be making a batch of Vee Sixes, the initial claim was of 25 bikes at 60 million Lire (about au$50k at the time).
To publicise this, a very accurate replica was assembled from the various parts that still remained at the factory. The new bike was required quickly for a photo-shoot to allow production of a promotional brochure, therefore any missing internal parts were left out.
They received 19 orders, and thus had to adjust the price to 85 million Lire at which point 5 people cancelled their orders, which brought an end to the whole project.

This bike did the rounds of public appearances in that period and made the move to the Zanè factory but was never seen running. Rumours abounded as to what prevented it, from a simple ignition component to having no engine internals at all. By the very late 90's this bike was at the home of Francesco Tognon, director and shareholder of the Laverda company at the time.

When the Zanè factory went under in ~2000 this Vee Six was sold to a wealthy enthusiast in Padova. It was not seen for many years but super-enthusiast and collector Cor Dees was in contact with the owner and after many attempts was able to purchase the bike in 2007, adding to his existing Vee Six described below.

Upon disassembly, the engine was found to be more-or-less complete (though some parts were unserviceable) but was missing many of the gearbox internals. The engine turned out to be the one from the Prototype of 1977, with the smaller carburetors, slightly different heads and some other minor differences. Given Cor had a 1978-spec engine for his other Vee Six, he decided he would swap the engines, bringing the Zanini bike to full 1978 Race-Bike spec, and allowing him to rebuild the new bike as a 1977 Prototype Replica.

All going well it should run for the very first time in the next year or so. See Cor's Museum Website for details of his amazing dual Vee Six project.

c.2000 Pile Of Parts - Soon To Be 1977 Prototype Redux

V6 Parts

In 2000 super-enthusiast Cor Dees was able to purchase from the financially embattled Zanè factory all of the remaining Vee Six parts and the drawings. The parts he acquired were approximately; 1x unmachined crankcase casting, 2x used heads with valvetrain, 1x unserviceable crankshaft, rods & pistons, moulds for the casting of the gearbox housing, 1x front subframe, the 1977 prototype fuel tank and various other sundry items. Obviously it was to be a herculean project bike but if anyone could do it Cor Dees could.

Over the intervening period, Cor has been working away on this bike, manufacturing every missing component and finding or arranging to have made all the proprietary items like wheels, lights, shocks etc. Development has at times been interrupted by other priorities - such as the establishment of his incredible Laverda Museum - and things were complicated in a pleasant way by the purchase in 2007 of the Zanini Vee Six.

After finding the Zanini Vee Six to have what was essentially the 1977 Prototype-spec engine installed, the two bikes will exchange engines. This bike will be built-up as a 1977 Prototype Replica, while the Zanini bike will receive the historically correct 1978-spec engine components.

See Cor's Museum Website for details of his amazing dual Vee Six project.