Return of the Cafe Racers - Moto Islo 175cc Carrera

Moto Islo 175cc Carrera

In the late 1950’s the Italian ‘city-to-city’ street races were infamous for being some of the most spectacular motorcycle racing events in the world. The Milan to Taranto race was over 1400km which took riders on small capacity motorcycles at least 14 hours to complete, racing non-stop over 2 days through city streets, country roads and special track sections. 10,000km away in Coahuila, Mexico a man by the name of Isidoro Lopez had aspirations of racing his own Italian inspired motorcycle in the event.

Lopez was the owner of Mexican motorcycle manufacturer Islo. Typically Islo produced motorcycles referred to as “Tortilla bikes” which were small, reliable commuter motorcycles often used by delivery services. To achieve his dream of racing in Italy Lopez launched a project to build 4 175cc powered Islo race bikes which he planned to race in the 1957 event.

Using Morini engines Lopez and his Islo designers created the spectacular looking 175cc Moto Islo “Carrera”.  The European influences were obvious but the Carerra was definitely a unique design. It’s most notable feature being the integrated front fairing with peep holes for viewing the tacho and refueling. A well padded seat and tank cushion helped to keep the rider as comfortable as possible to reduce fatigue and a double battery set up was used to prevent headlight failure for night time stretch where speeds of up to 170 km/h could be reached.

The four bikes produced were up to the task but due to logistics their completion was delayed until 1958. Sadly this was the same year that the Italian government ban the races due to several pedestrian deaths. Lopez and his Carerra’s would never see Italian soil.

The four Carrera’s were resigned to become showroom bikes at Islo dealers and at their company headquarters. Fast forward to 2012 and only two of the four Moto Islo Carerra’s remain. The red bike pictured here recently went under the hammer in the US and fetched a tad over $18,000. It’s a motorcycle made from a dream but doomed by fate, you can only imagine what Islo could have become if the Carrera made it to Italian shores.


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