Introduced in 1971, the Suzuki GT750 Le Mans — affectionately known as the “Water Buffalo” or “Kettle”– was the first liquid-cooled production motorcycle from Japan, a 739cc, three-cylinder two-stroke street machine that boasted 67 horsepower at 6500 rpm.
In 1973, Italian importer SAIAD developed a racing special, the Suzuki GT750S Vallelunga, to compete in the production-based championships popular at the time, Gare Derivate Serie. Total weight was dropped from 539 lb to 418 lb, with a top speed in excess of 140 mph. Named after a 1973 Coppa Cere victory at Vallunga, only around 100 were ever built and sold to privateer racers.
Enter Daniele and Alberto Soiatti, the father/son team behind Italy’s Soiatti Moto Classiche, who perform concours-level restorations on vintage European and Japanese bikes from the 1970s. Daniele, who was a professional motocross racer for SWM in the 70s, opened the workshop in 1978 after retiring from racing.
This particular specimen is number 35 of 100, and arrived in their workshop after sitting in a garage for more than two decades. The bike was completely restored to its prior glory, with a re-balanced crankshaft, sandblasted engine, new bodywork from Angelo Menani, and a Figaroli exhaust.
Below, we get the full story on the restoration of this rare two-stroke racing special.
Suzuki Vallelunga: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
The workshop was opened by Daniele Soiatti (father) in 1978. In recent years his son Alberto has joined the company. In 70’s, Daniele was a professional motocross racer for SWM Factory.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The bike it’s a Suzuki Vallelunga Saiad 750 two stroke, piece 35/100, and was produced by the Italian Suzuki importer from Turin. Year is 1974. To produce this racing bike, was modified an original Suzuki GT750.
• Why was this bike built?
Bike was built for privateer racers.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design concept was influenced by the necessity to participate in production-derived racing series in 70’s.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
More efficient exhaust system, created by the specialist Figaroli.
Angelo Menani supplied the featherweight fiberglass bodywork, rear sets and clips-on. The 1.9-liter oil tank is actually hidden in the bulky tail unit.
Compared to a stock GT750 two stroke, light engine work freed up an extra 10 horses. The crankshaft, on this restoration, was rebalanced and all the seals and bearings replaced. The engine were then sandblasted, and then coated with a petrol-and head-resistant clear coat.
The saddle was beyond repair though, so there’s a new seat pad upholstered in black leather in the same style as the original.
Fiberglass bodywork has restored it, painted in the authentic Suzuki blue race paint. Frame was sanded back to rare metal and repainted in black. All the aluminum parts, such as the rims, the engine crankcase and the wheel hubs, have been polished.
• How would you classify this bike?
Cafe racer style!
Follow the Builder
- Instagram: @alberto_soiatti
- Instagram: @daniele_soiatti
- Facebook: Soiatti Moto Classiche
great build of a really underappreciated bike…I had a ’74 GT750 “Water Buffalo” and it was a blast to ride…super fast, smoked like the dickens even with synthetic 2-stroke oil, stock engine but with Denco Chambers, cafed it a bit with a Z1 tail piece, no rear fender, RZ350 1/4 fairing, steering damper and clubman bars. I see you stayed with stock looking shocks. Mine would really wallow in high speed sweepers even with inverted S&W shocks. Not really a problem if you just kept the throttle open but could get scary if you let off in that situation. Let a friend ride it who had a tricked out single shock 49 state RZ350 and it scared the hell out of him. Of course this guy learned to ride on single shock bikes so he never experienced what a twin shock and small swing arm bike could do if it got out of shape. Anyway, very nice bike…congrats!