There are several different procedures to consider, when seeking out vintage road bicycles.  One that proves successful, from time to time and certainly with no degree of predictability, is simply to take a peek in the local bike shops, from time to time.  Doing so produced this near mint old Italian bicycle featured here.  In fact, visiting a local bike shop produced two old Italian bikes, at the same time.

An old fellow, I have known for a few years, decided, some time ago, to open a used bicycle shop.  Does he need the income?  I am not really sure, but I do know, that he enjoys the experience, of running his little shop.  And, I might add, his little shop has a wonderful vintage feel to it, even though he sells used bicycles, and makes no effort to emphasize the vintage nature, of his offerings.

In fact, the two Torpado bicycles, that I managed to purchase, were never displayed for sale.  They were brought to Erik for complete tune-ups.  The original owner had decided to put them back on the road, after having had them in storage, for nearly forty years.  Sadly, he had failed to upgrade his thought process, to include how much a full tune-up would cost, in today's world.  After being presented with the bill, for the first bike, he was never heard from again.  Its sibling, the white Torpado, would remained untouched, until Erik got some money for his work.

But, no money came and I expressed interest in the bikes.  Erik, being an honest guy, said that he could not sell the bikes, just like that.  He would have to allow three months to pass.  If that time did pass, and the owner did not return, then he would consider selling me the bikes.  That seemed more than fair to me and the wait began...

And ended.  Three months passed, riding season was just about over, and winter was not quite making its presence known.  Erik and I discussed the price, for both bikes, arrived at an agreement and the deal was struck.  It was not until then, I considered how to get the bikes up the incredibly steep, narrow and winding staircase, that leads to Erik's basement.  But, I did manage and, after months of insecure futures, the bikes emerged into a cold, but sunny day.  And, that was the first time I had viewed either bicycle, in decent light.

The Yellow Torpado was stunning.  Not stunning in the "oh, wow, its a top of the line Costalotti".  No, stunning in the sense of preservation.  The bike, "as found", was in great shape.

The infamous Italian "quick release decals" hadn't released quite as quickly, or completely, as others encountered.  The wonderful bright yellow paint sported few blemishes, the worst of which was caused by an improperly fitted front derailleur  There was no paint fading, what so ever.  The chrome gleamed, showing no evidence of oxidation (rust), at all.  Even those chrome items that would normally tarnish first, such as brake parts, were still bright and shiny.  Even the plating, on the original Torpado fenders, was in great shape.  I was impressed.  I really like the appearance of these old Italian bicycles.  Depending on how they are detailed, the chrome plated ornate heat tube lugs, can be absolutely gorgeous, in my opinion.  I digress...

The white Torpado, purchased that same day, was not as well preserved, as its yellow brother.  The drabness of the white, could not hold a candle, to the other's lovely yellow.  That said, the choice of red accent for the head tube did add considerably to the bike's vintage  appeal.  Perhaps cleaned up, to the same degree as the Yellow Torpado, the white one would shine, in a similar fashion.  In fact, I know it would.

That said, both the white and yellow Torpados were very original and in pretty decent shape, mechanically.  The bikes were very similar, with one very big difference - the Yellow Torpado was fitted with 700c steel clincher patterned rims.  The first set that I had ever run across.  And, they suited the bicycle perfectly.  To add frosting, to an already well prepared cake, the tires were brand new!  Remember, the bicycle had already been professionally gone through for the "disappearing customer".

Those gorgeous old steel rims were laced to Wing-Nutted hubs, once again emphasizing the vintage nature, of the beautiful old yellow bicycle.  The wing nuts, like the rest of the bike, were in great shape and it even looked as if the rear drive side would do its job - unimpeded.  Unimpeded?  It is not uncommon to be unable to turn the drive side rear wing nut, without hitting the rear derailleur.  Often times, one of the wings will have to be removed, to facilitate the task.  Not so with this nice old Torpado.

As might be expected, from a Bike Boom entry level bicycle, the drive was all steel and of cotter pin design.  This Old School system is frowned on today, mostly because of the considerable weight involved.  To that, add that not everyone can remove, or install, a cottered system, properly.  Ignorance, coupled with a lack of appropriate tools, often leeds to cottered crank failure.  Many old bikes have found their way into The Old Shed with floppy crank arms and completely shot cotter pins.

Most entry level Italian bicycles, encountered to date, have been fitted either with a Simplex or Campagnolo transmission.  The Campy models are always entry level, or very close to it.  In the case of the Yellow Torpado, the transmission was Campy and the top entry level model, featuring modest chrome plating.  These old pressed steel derailleurs did work, but did little to impress, while doing so.  None the less, they were Campagnolo and that, in itself, then and now, was a distinct selling feature.  That said...

Every now and again, a Gian Robert transmission presents itself on an old Torpado.  Again, the Gian Robert tranny was a, more or less, entry level transmission, that really did not work all that well, but an unusual one, none the less.  I should add, that I have been lucky enough to run across one higher end Gian Robert set of shifters and derailleurs.  They were quite similar to some of their higher end competitors.  Sadly, I never spent much time using the higher end set, and can't really comment on how it worked.

A quality brake set was fitted to the Torpado.  Universal Model 61 center pulls, front and back, with in-line quick release cable guide brackets, were sought after in the Yellow Torpado's day.  These old brakes have great vintage appeal, and work about as well as most others, offered at the time.  That is to say, not really all that well, by today's standards.  None the less, they would slow the bicycle done enough to be considered safe and acceptable.  And, I suppose they were, since it would appear that most bicycles fitted with them show little signs of not being able to stop.

The Universal brake lever is well formed, easy to reach and elegant in its simple, uncluttered design.  To that, add the opportunity to adjust cable slack, right at the lever itself, and you have one of the predecessors of today's brake lever design.  Not too bad, for a forty plus year old entry level bicycle!

Of the neat things, that made up the old Yellow Torpado, one of the neatest was the set of original Torpado Fenders.  Both bikes found, were fitted with these hard to find Italian wheel covers and I was happy to have them.  Were it not for the fact that I had another set, on an mid seventies Peugeot UE8, I would have robbed the set off of the white Torpado before offering it for sale.  But that is another story...

All in all, the Yellow Torpado was a bicycle, that was seriously considered for inclusion, in my personal collection, of vintage road bicycles.  Of course, I almost always feel that way about the really nice bikes that I find.  Sadly, I just cannot justify keeping every nice bicycle, that I stumble across.  With that in mind, I decided to see how the old Yellow Torpado would do in auction on Ebay.