This was in Benzina issue 5, for a story on how MV Agusta fought long and hard to keep the two-strokes at bay, culminating in a 500cc flat four. The flat four was never raced, and neither were theses Aero 500s, although Phil Read did try one in practice at Spa for the 1974 Belgium Grand Prix. Ago never got that far, although he was happy enough to parade this one at Spa’s Bikers’Classics a few years back. There’s a video Phil at Spa in 1974 in my Instagram Reels #agost
Issue 10 of Benzina features a Guzzi Dondolino, the Moriniday in the Po valley and the new Rebello, Lino Tonti's Linto 500, Ducati's 500GP plus Sports Motorcycles entry in the 1982 Suzuka 8 hour - featuring Steve Wynne in very short shorts. Then there's a 1960s replica MV Agusta racer with a 750F4 engine, riding in Puglia and the Dolomites, plus much more including regulars like Ian Gowanloch's Happy Farm, Mark William's Running Out of Road, and a buyers' guide to Ducati wid
This is one of the very first MV Agusta fours, a 1951 4C aka the 500 Bialbero Corsa. Although designed, like the original Rodine and Gilera Quattro, by Piero Remor there are some notable (and frankly odd) differences. The most obvious is shaft drive (to keep oil off the rear tyre and sod changing the gearing) and the need for two gearshift levers – on one side it would change up, on the other it would change down. MV Agusta, like so many other Italian aviation manufactu
This is Michael Dunlop at the 2017 Classic TT about to a the parade lap to mark 60 years since Bob McIntyre set the first 100mph lap of the Isle of Man’s TT course. The bike’s a replica of the Gilera Quattro McIntyre rode and Dunlop did actually manage a 100mph lap from a standing start to celebrate. Geoff Duke was initially credited with achieving the first 100mph lap of the mountain course in 1956 on a Gilera 500 four, but timekeepers subsequently downgraded it to 99.
Another supercharged motorcycle, this Carlo Guzzi’s 1931 Quattro Cilindri, photographed by Phil Aynsley. It was a case of something old, something new, something borrowed (but nothing blue). The Cozette rotary supercharger was positioned above the gearbox, which sat vertically behind the crankshaft as on modern sportsbikes. The very oversquare layout, at 56mmx50mm, was also something today’s engineers would recognise as good practice in an engine designed for outright
This is an extract from the story of this image in Benzina 7:
“Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, was all that was going through my mind” remembers Chris Mayhew when asked about this fantastic photograph by Alan Horner. Chris is part of family business North Leicester Motorcycles, recently relaunched as Lusso Veloce. Although they deal with all things Italian it’s clear that Morini V-twins hold a special place in their heart. So when they decided to enter the UK Earlystocks they simply
Ducati were once just another of the many motorcycle factories around Bologna, perhaps their most famous fellow bike builder being Moto Morini. This one’s probably my favourite – the 3½ with disc front brake but still with the Borranis and the original Sport look, especially that humped seat. This image is by Paul Hart (featured in a past post with a 400 Four photo) and as with that pic this was taken on 35mm film with an Olympus OM-2N. He’s a complete Vespa scooter nut
While we’re on the lightweights, how about this beauty, an MV Agusta 125 Sport, freshly consigned to Bonhams Winter Sale on the 5 and 6th December. But this isn’t just any MV Agusta 125 Sport, it is the pre-production prototype used for the sales leaflets and differs in many ways to the production run. The frame is unique and the tank is a one-off in aluminium alloy made by Primo Filotti – who made all the factory racer’s alloy bodywork - with a Monza cap. The side pan
This is the actual Laverda 75 Sport ridden by factory rider Genunzio Silvagni to win the 75cc class in both the 1956 and 1957 Motogiro races. The 75 Sport was also very successful in the Milano-Taranto event - winning the 75cc category in 1952 & 1953, taking the top 14 positions in the later event! The bike was also used for short circuit racing, with the lights & number plate removed. In this configuration power was upped to 12hp compared to 9hp at 10,500rpm in long distance
If he were a less modest man, Giuliano Maoggi could have claimed that he saved Ducati, so this pop-art tribute by Andrew Peplow, aka Pep, is well deserved. In 1955 Maoggi won the 125 class of the Milano Taranto for Ducati at their first attempt, and the following year won the Giro outright, his 125 beating everyone else’s 175s. Ducati were back from the brink, a practice they’ve thrived on ever since.
By the mid fifties Ducati were facing closure, so in a final throw
‘L’utilitaria che vince le corse!’ was Laverda’s 1950s sales slogan which, loosely translated, means ‘the commuter which wins races’. Rather more bizarrely the caption at the top reads ‘the dreams of Giovani’… (oops - no, it's giovane; "the young").
The austerity of post war Italy provided an ideal environment in which to launch a low cost motorcycle. This opportunity was spotted by Francesco Laverda who, when taking time off from the family agricultural engineering bus
This is the postcard MV Agusta had printed when they finally won the Motogiro in 1957, winner Remo Venturi (right) and runner up Gilberto Milani armed with twin cam GP racers, a money-no-object attempt to undo the hurt of previous years. The Motogiro was the most popular and difficult race it Italy, racing a 175cc (at most) motorcycle over 3,000 km of 1950s backroads; no wonder they called it la sfida temeraria - the reckless challenge.
Post war Italy was a desperate p
"The single-cam 175, introduced in 1952 and put into production in 1954, was of fundamental importance to the technical, commercial and sporting evolution of the marque. From an engineering point of view, the 175 CS was important because it was the first 4-stroke MV to go into volume production..." – Colombo & Patrignani, MV Agusta. Banned post war from aircraft manufacture Agusta (now Leonardo) begun motorcycle production late in 1945 with a 98cc two-stroke under the name Me
Here’s Massimo Tamburini getting ready to ride a prototype MV Agusta F4. As with the Ducati 916, he liked testing in the rain because the road dirt showed up where aerodynamics were less than optimum before committing to pricey wind tunnel time. While the 916 is Tamburini’s most recognised project for Claudio Castiglioni, his best-selling Cagiva 125s were what brought the money in while he perfected it. The hugely under-rated Cagiva Gran Canyon is his too. Tamburini’s next bi