Torpado in it's original form began in 1908, by F. Torresini and ran 100% family owned until the early 1980s when Agrati-Garelli bought 49%, in order to cease the moto competition. A-G later bought out the Torresini family completely, and shortly thereafter closed down bicycle production, I think in 1987.
The model bike on auction appears to be the "Modello Serie Elegant", sold in Europe, very uncommon or even unheard of in the US, and which as Hugh noted, is a mid-level bike. I've collected many pics of these bikes, mostly in Germany, and the unusual contour of the rear dropouts is consistent. However this is the first time I recall seeing one with Torpado stamped dropouts ... in an older logo font no less, so that's kind of cool. Jerry Moos' enthusiasm (in a post more recent than what is quoted below) is appreciated, but top level racing frames had Campagnolo dropouts like any other marque, and although the workmanship looks OK from what we can see, I don't think this is top level. The Ofmega components instead of Campy is another bit of proof, as that was common practice for next level bikes to be so equipped. There will be no "T" windows in the lugs. The extended looking seat stay tops were a feature of the Italvega and Torpado top level Superlight models, but were seen only on mid level bikes after TORPADO embossed caps came into their own.
There were indeed a lot of shoddy looking low-mid level bikes coming out of Torpado in the early-mid 70s, but price point bikes such as that came out of a lot of other houses too, like Atala, Bianchi, Carnielli's Bottecchia, Legnano, Olmo, etc. Torpado racing bikes from that time period exist, but they are fewer and far in between. They look the equivalent of other top level factory made bikes of the time.
Torpado was the contract builder of Italvega bikes sold in the United States, the project running from the VERY early 1970s, to about 1977, or perhaps late 1976. This line sported many different models, and sold very well in southern California. Between this and sales in Canada, Torpado did not miss out on the bike boom, IMO. The top of the line Superlight and clone Super Speciale frames from that time period are very nice to look at, and to ride, with lots of enthusiasts to be found within our CR ranks. Champion racing frames and the Torpado branded Superlights of the 70s have mostly the same features, but they are much less common. Differences are readily apparent between the Ebay bike and a confirmed and unrestored 1976 Torpado Superlight (owned by a nice gentleman who I believe is a newer listmember) as viewed here:
Torpado had a strong presence in the pro peloton from the early 1950s to early 1960s, with a down period through the 60s and into the 70s until hooking up with Magniflex for the 1976-78 seasons. In all of these on-years, Torpado was ridden in the Giro d'Italia as well as many other classics, meeting with some bits of success. A mountain stage win here, a TT win there, and a few overall victories too. Nothing like Bianchi or Colnago racing success, but still worthwhile.
There is evidence of a Torpado MTB racing team in about 1986, but not much is known, and it is essentially off topic anyway.
All of the above I cited from memory, and is subject to minor adjustment. Some day, some day, some day ... I will get all my collected Torpado data and images posted online, as I've been promising for years now. If someone strong in website building and who has the time to make it happen is willing to build the web pages, I'd be willing to finish processing everything I have here, in stages for them to work with and get up for display. If it has to wait for me to find the time to figure it all out AND get it all posted ... I'm afraid too many of us will have turned to dust already!
BTW, yes ... the Torpado name has been revived as part of the Fondreist group, and one can now find any number of different styles and models of Torpado available for sale in Europe. No idea of the quality, but these are in no way, shape or form, keepers of the flame that we eye here.
Ciao, Mark "Anything Torpado" Agree Southfield MI USA ~ ~ ~
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 2009 19:27:44 +0000 From: Hugh Thornton <email@example.com> Subject: Re: [CR] Torpado 4sale To: firstname.lastname@example.org
This looks like a distinctly mid-range bike from the 1970s with nothing muc
h to commend it.
Does anybody know what happened toTorpado?? They made great bikes before
WWII and probably through the 1950s.? By the 1970s their product looked q
uite mediocre, or at least the examples I have seen.? Did they just fade
away or were they absorbed by another manufacturer?
From: email@example.com <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: [CR] Torpado 4sale To: email@example.com Date: Thursday, 26 March, 2009, 4:14 PM
Check out Ebay#?350181727414 For sale by Alex a GOOD Brit dealer, Not into Italian bikes buts looks like a?Very Interesting background. Cheers ,John C rump, OldintoBritbikesBrit, Parker Co USA
**************Free Credit Report and Score Tracking! Get it Now for $0 at CreditReport.com. (http://pr.atwola.com/promoclk/100126575x1220474599x1201401934/aol?redir=http:%2F%2Fwww.creditreport.com%3Fsrc%3Daolemail%26kwd%3Dmlftrtextlin k)