Keats once noted that truth is beauty and thus beauty equals truth. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Wards Riverside is a true beauty, but its price may just prove an ugly truth.
Nothing quite says happy birthday baby jesus like a moldy old hearse with Porn Kills written on the side. That might not be what YOU would like to find under your Christmas tree, or on Purim, and at its four-grand asking, 73% of you would have hoped it came with a gift receipt.
That hearse may have been at death’s door, but today’s 1968 Wards Riverside 350 looks to have a whole new lease on life.
We had a Benelli-built Riverside here once before, but while that 250 was modestly clean and tidy, this one is restored and quite beautiful. Not only that, but this one has a full 100-cc edge over that earlier contender.
Benelli was founded as the Benelli Garage in Pesaro, Italy in 1911 but it wasn’t until 1921 that the family concern built its first full-fledged motorcycle. The company gained considerable success over the years on both road and track, a growing reputation that was unceremoniously cut short by WWII.
Following the War, Benelli got back into building small bikes, aiding the effort to get Europe back on the road to prosperity. The company’s racing successes also continued, the marque taking the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man TT in 1950 and 1969, and the 250-class Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship in those same years.
This 350-cc single isn’t a racer, but a two-place upright for cruising around the city or motoring out to the country with a baguette, a bottle of chianti, and someone easy on the eyes on the back for a little picnic and maybe a romp in the grass. It is Italian after all.
It’s also claimed to have been fully restored using New Old Stock parts and is so twee that it looks like it should be hanging off a teen girl’s charm bracelet or dicing it up on the Monopoly board.
The bike has been painted in candy apple red with contrasting nickel-plated accents. A couple of things to note about the pictures in the ad: first there’s the reflection of the photographer - and his iPad - in the tank, that’s a hoot. Then, in that same photo, note the use of Zip ties to secure the cables to the frame. I had to look it up as I didn’t know when Zip ties we’re first invented and it turns out it was in 1958. Who knew! You might also make note that this is a shift-right/brake-left kind of bike.
The mechanicals seem to be as sweet as the visuals as the ad notes a rebuilt head, new rings, ignition parts, tires, etc, and that it starts on the first kick. The final kick is that the bike apparently has only 502 original miles.
Wards sold Benelli bikes up until about 1970 and you could buy one out of a catalog and have it delivered to your front door in a big wooden crate. The Japanese invasion pretty much killed off Wards’ and Sears’ bike business, but there’s still quite a few Riversides out there, they even have their own Facebook page!
This one asks $4,500 to show up at your front door, and it’s so damn good looking you’d be a fool not to invite it in. Of course, it’s up to you to decide how foolish it might be to pay that price.
What do you think about $4,500 for this low-mileage, nicely restored 350, does that seem like a deal? Or, is this a Wards that’s priced more like Tiffany’s?
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