Laverda 3CL: Big Noise From Breganze

Restored three times, this 1977 Laverda 3CL is back on the road thanks to the work of Scott Potter.

| May/June 2013

1977 Laverda 1000 3CL
Claimed power:
80hp @ 7,250rpm
Top speed: 123mph (period test)
Engine: 981cc air-cooled DOHC inline triple, 75mm x 74mm bore and stroke, 9:1 compression ratio
Weight (wet): 543lb (246kg) 
Fuel capacity/MPG: 4.1gal (15.5ltr)/35-40mpg
Price then/now: $3,900 (est.)/$3,000-$8,000

In 2008, the iconic 3-cylinder Italian was in an underground parking lot in Chicago when the Windy City experienced its worst rain in 137 years, and the bike was submerged up to the filler cap. The insurance company wanted to write it off, but Ackelson persuaded them it was worth more than the restoration would cost and shipped it off to Scott Potter for rehab.    

Potter went through the bike completely, right down to dismantling and pressing up the 3CL’s built-up crankshaft, replacing all of the roller main and big-end bearings. In the process the engine received Jota-spec pistons, a lightened clutch and Axtell camshafts. Other than that, the 3CL is more or less stock, although it does have improved charging and ignition systems by Australian Laverda expert Red Cawte. It also received a full bodywork makeover, involving a lot of painstaking detail work. “It cleaned up very nice,” Potter says matter of factly.

Nice enough to take first in class at the Harvest Classic European & Vintage Motorcycle Rally in Luckenbach, Texas, in 2009. But that was only the first rebuild. Riding the 3CL back to his Texas Hill Country shop at dark after the rally, Potter hit a deer at around 60mph. “It hit the front wheel,” Potter remembers. “The bike flipped over; I landed on my head and back, and slid along the tarmac for 100 yards or so.”

Potter broke his collarbone and tore a rotator cuff, but the 3CL looked relatively unscathed apart from some road rash, the instruments having been ground away sliding on the pavement, “so it was back to the shop for a cosmetic rebuild,” Potter says.

That was the second restoration, so to speak, but after he got the bike back together Potter noticed something wasn’t quite right. As it turned out, the frame was out of alignment from his collision with the deer. “The headstock was twisted,” Potter says, “so I sourced a new frame and put it back together — again.”

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