Moto Guzzi was formed by two aircraft pilots and their mechanic serving in the Corpo Aeronautico Militare (the Italian Air Corp, CAM) during World War I: Carlo Guzzi, Giovanni Ravelli and Giorgio Parodi.
The company was legally based in Genoa, Italy, with its headquarters in Mandello. The very earliest motorcycles bore the name G.P. (Guzzi-Parodi), though the marque quickly changed to Moto Guzzi. As the only actual shareholders, the Parodi's wanted to shield their shipping fortunes by avoiding confusion of name G.P. with Giorgio Parodi's initials.
Carlo Guzzi initially received royalties for each motorcycle produced, holding no ownership in the company that bore his name. In 1946 Moto Guzzi formally incorporated as Moto Guzzi S.p.A. with Giorgio Parodi as chairman. In the 1950s, Moto Guzzi, along with the Italian factories of Gilera and Mondial, led the world of Grand Prix motorcycle racing. With durable and lightweight 250cc and 350cc bikes designed by Giulio Carcano, the firm dominated the middleweight classes. The factory won five consecutive 350cc world championships between 1953 and 1957.
In realising that low weight alone might not continue to win races for the company, Carcano designed the V8 500cc GP race bike—whose engine was to become one of the most complex engines of its time. Despite the bikes having led many races and frequently posted the fastest lap time, it often failed to complete races because of mechanical problems. However, by the time of its pull out from Grand Prix racing, Moto Guzzi had won 3,329 official races, eight world championships, six constructor's championships and 11 Isle of Man TT victories.
The Piaggio Group officially acquired Moto Guzzi in December 2004. Moto Guzzi motorcycles are officially sold in India through the Piaggio Group premium brand showroom called Motoplex.