Icons of cycling: Campagnolo Tool Case

Never before had a tool kit been so desired — the Campag Tool Case was a thing of beauty

In the days when ‘park’ simply meant a place where you take your dog for a walk, there was the Campagnolo Complete Tool Case.

At the beginning of the Eddy Merckx era, when Campagnolo was at the height of its powers, the Italian component manufacturer decreed that other people’s spanners weren’t good enough. Super Record and the other legendary Campagnolo groupsets of the era, which were all beautifully designed and engineered, deserved better than that.

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So spanners, cutters, facers, chasers and alignment checkers — things previously regarded as functional and humdrum — were reimagined as luxury items, made in Italy to fine tolerances from the finest, hardest steel, presented like expensive jewellery in an opulent wooden case and of course sold for a sum of money that reflected all this — £937.75 in 1981. Just as Campagnolo had done with derailleurs and brakes, it had turned functional, unsexy tools into objets de désir. 

Campag cases: every tool under the sun. Photo: Roy Hardy

Every tool in the world – the classic Campag logo. Photo: Roy Hardy

Tool kit heavyweights

And desirable they were. On the outside and inside of the lid of the wooden box, which was 77cm long, 48cm wide, just 6.5cm deep and looked as though it was hewn from the same tree as a Ferrari 250 GTO steering wheel, was the classic Campagnolo ‘globe’ logo. In the box itself was such a comprehensive range of tools that the whole thing weighed 45lb.

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Forty years on, most of the tools are redundant. Nigel Scott of Campyoldy.co.uk, the UK’s foremost seller of vintage Campagnolo parts, says: “Beyond the

BB and headset, commonly used tools, the most useful out of the framebuilding tools is the fork crown cutter/facing tool, which skims the crown and shaves the steerer to the 26.4mm internal diameter of the Campagnolo crown race.

“The average guy won’t have much use for the rear dropout aligning tools and head tube facing cutter. If his bike has Campagnolo components and he doesn’t stick the rear mech into the spokes, he won’t need the rest on a finished frame. They are perfect for finishing raw product — for framebuilders.”

Even so, the Campagnolo tool case is becoming very rare and very sought after. In October 2014 a ‘lightly used’ example that was missing the peanut butter wrench (flat-handled 15mm ring spanner for track nuts and crank bolts) and bottlebrush went for $4,499 (about £3,000).

This article first appeared in the April 9 issue of Cycling Weekly