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MV's first road going four - in 1950

This is the MV Agusta stand at the 1950 Milan show, promising imminent delivery of a road going 500 four. The Turismo R19 was priced at 950,000 lira, about three times the cost of a decent 250. Like its racing sibling there was an odd gearchange arrangement, a lever on one side of the gearbox to change up, an apparently identical lever on the other side for changing down. Of course the road bike never made it to any owners, although the odd gearbox and shaft drive were briefly replicated on MV’s first racing Quattros. Between 1949 and 1950 Count Agusta had poached first Arturo Magni and then Piero Remor from Gilera and set them to work replicating and improving on the Gilera four, including this road going version. George Brough had previously approached Gilera with a view to creating the first transverse four cylinder roadster. So when MV showed 500cc four cylinder racing and roadgoing motorcycles they were – who’d have guessed it? - little more than Gilera clones. Yet the MVs were upgraded in ways that would prove to be ill advised, such as shaft drive and torsion bar rear suspension. But only this solitary roadster show bike was ever built and it would be another 20 years before MV Agusta offered a four that the public could buy, the outrageously expensive 600 designed to compete with BMW’s flat twin tourers. Finally enthusiasts could buy a purpose built transverse four, albeit at a price. 1972 brought the 750 Sport, finally giving wealthy MV fans the sort of motorcycle they’d dreamed of for nigh on quarter of a century. More photos from A Herl in Benzina 15 available from the shop.

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