MY IMPALA_PROJECT

Classic motorcycle and Geography experience around the world  (In Process)

1. INTRODUCTION

Between 1980 and 2000 I toured southern Europe (Spain, Italy and Portugal) on my blue Yamaha 250SR, with two suitcases and everything I could carry. I sold the Yamaha in 2021 (with 60.000km) after years without using it by €400.

My interest in travels and geography led me to study the famous Montesa Expedition "Operación Impala" (1962). Very recently, I found the 2nd edition of the book (Ed Juventud. Barcelona, 1964)  by M.Maristany (1930-2016) member of the expedition, journalist and writer. He was in charge of making the report of the 20.000 km traveled, from Cape Town to Tunisia a long of East Africa (see map). 

This book has its own story. It is a highly sought after gem. My copy was purchased (May 2022) for the ridiculous price of €3 at the Re-Read used bookstore in my city. In book search engines like Abebooks, it can reach more than €300. A second revised edition by the author with 100 unpublished pictures was published by Libreria Universitaria (Barcelona 2011)  in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the expedition. Is out of print and the price is 200-300€ for used. I am looking for this copy in some of the Spanish libraries. This is an out-of-loan consultation copy. I look forward to checking it out in the coming months. The entire graphic archive (photographs and film) obtained during the expedition is currently in the Permanyer Photographic Archive.  It doesn't seem to be available online. I have to keep investigating.

A good documentary produced by TV3 (Televisió de Catalunya, 2013) explains the history of the Montesa motorcycle industry and also narrates the ups and downs of "Operación Impala". Its protagonists were still alive. None of them are with us currently, they will always be in our memory. The tradition of great journeys with the Impala models has not ceased. "Operación Impala 2" reached Japan in 2013 with a total of 26.000km crossing four continents. 

The support Land Rover named "Kiboko" (Andora 2819).
The Impalas named "La Baobab", "La Perla" y "Luchiernaga"

The Impalas are now a myth in Catalunya and Spain, created in 1962 (I was two years old¡) by the engineer and bussinesman Leopoldo Milà (1921-2006). Every year the Moto Club Impala of Barcelona brings together several hundred participants, concentrated in the event called IMPALADA. There is an excellent supply of spare parts. Possibly the best known provider is SOLOIMPALA.ES. I hope to be able to participate in the 2023 edition with my restored Impala.

MY IMPALA PROJECT 

My Impala Project is quite modest. I don't know anything about motorcycle mechanics. Fortunately I found someone with a lot of experience. Rafa Hernández, a professional mechanic, had been in racing teams in the 1980s and he knew the Impala very well. Without their enthusiastic collaboration, I would have been involved in a project beyond my reach. Classic motorcycle restorers are expensive. With Rafa Hernández we are spending many hours fine-tuning my Impala. I am also learning a lot, seeing how we disassemble piece by piece.

First steep: May 2022. The acquisition and documentation

While reading M.Maristany's book, my old dream of owning an Impala grew. I didn't want to invest a lot of money, but I didn't want to buy a useless piece of junk either. I searched on Wallapop App and found a good deal. Francisco José López Bleda, from Hellín (Albacete, Spain) had an Impala Comando (1963) in fairly good condition. It had done some restorations and had new parts, others needed to be replaced.

Its price was €1,750, which in the end was reduced to €1,550. According to he was in "flawless" condition. It wasn't entirely true, but this already assumed it. The condition-price ratio was good. I am happy with this. Francisco Bleda was very kind and answered all my questions. The Impala would be picked up at the Cepsa Cancarix II E.S. fuel station,  on the A30 Highway (Exit 75), where Francisco works.

I activated the insurance for classic motorcycles at MAPFRE Agency for the price of €188/year The MAPFRE Cuidamos tuMoto service took care of the transfer from Albacete to my city, at a cost of €120. The change of ownership processed by the Hernández Assessors (without any relation with my friend and mechanic Rafa Hernández) agency had a price of €160. I have the A2 license for all motorcycle displacements from 1980's.

June 2022. First check and restoration

My Impala Comando 175 was parked in front of my house. It was protected from the rain and it was possible to work in the shade. Rafa Hernández's first visit detected some need for spare parts and some accessories. Among other things I bought the luggage rack, as I wanted to attach a couple of classic cloth suitcases. My first order to SOLOIMPALA.ES was €276 (June 6), the second €134 (June 10). 

We prepared 5 liters of the mixture of gasoline and oil for the engine and did the first ignition tests. It made too much noise and the amount of smoke was noticeable. Rafa decided that the carburettor had to be checked, as well as to avoid the loss of oil that we detected in the cylinder gasket. We disassembled the carburettor and found that it was incorrectly assembled. The model was an OKO of Chinese origin that Francisco had installed ( also had the original AMAL carburettor). We replaced the cylinder gasket and solved the oil leak.

The Impala came to me with a "Sport" model exhaust pipe. It was heavily rusted and the muffler dented. It was preferable to complete change. We opted for the Impala Comando's own model, which was shorter at the muffler mouth.


 

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