Although better known for their racing and road-going multi-cylinder machines, MV Agusta also built a range of stylish single- and twin-cylinder sports bikes throughout the 1950s, '60s and '70s. They were occasionally available in Britain but were ludicrously expensive and never big sellers. Introduced at the Milan Show in 1971, MV's first production 350 roadster was basically an over-bored version of the existing 250B model that had been around since 1967. The engine was a compact twin-cylinder, overhead-valve unit featuring twin Dell'Orto carburettors, geared primary drive and a five-speed gearbox. Claimed maximum power was 28bhp at 7,600rpm and top speed in excess of 90mph. Two versions were made: the 350GT tourer and 350B sports, both of which were updated with 12-volt electrics and electronic ignition in October 1972. They were replaced by restyled, 'square case' Ipotesi (hypothesis – no, me neither) 350 Sport/GT equivalents for 1975. The basic engine architecture remained unchanged, but power went up to 34bhp at 8,500 revs with a commensurate increase in performance.
The press were scathing (Bike ran their Ipotesi test with the lyrics to The Great Pretender) but with a £1400 asking price you could see their point. That was Kawasaki Z1 money, and half as much again as a Morini 3½ or Triumph Bonneville if pushrod twins were your thing. And exactly twice what Honda wanted for their sublime 400 Four.
And yet – time has rewritten every line. This example (lot 618) went under the hammer at Bonhams Stafford sale on the 4th July and made just £4025 including buyer’s premium so these days that’s 400 Four or late Morini 3½ money. An early Morini might be double that, as would a Ducati Desmo single. So perhaps it’s a bit of a bargain now, and a perfect ride for the Motogiro. How times change.
Lots more on the MV Agusta 350 Sports in Benzina 6, available via my shop for just £5 with the code allclear – and free UK post