MV Agusta

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MV Agusta is a motorcycle manufacturer founded in 1945 near Milan in Cascina Costa, Italy. The company began as an offshoot of the Agusta aviation company which was formed by Count Giovanni Agusta in 1923. The Count died in 1927, leaving the company in the hands of his wife and sons, Domenico, Vincenzo, Mario and Corrado. Count Vincenzo Agusta together with his brother Domenico formed MV Agusta (the MV stood for Meccanica Verghera) at the end of the Second World War as a means to save the jobs of employees of the Agusta firm and also to fill the post-war need for cheap, efficient transportation. The company manufactured small-displacement, Café racer style motorcycles (mostly 125 to 150 cc) through the 1950s and 1960s. In the 1960s small motorcycle sales declined, and MV started producing larger displacement cycles in more limited quantities. A 250 cc, and later a 350 cc twin were produced, and a 600 cc four-cylinder evolved into a 750 cc which is still extremely valuable today.

History[edit | edit source]

1954 MV Agusta CSTL 175 Turismo Lusso
750 America
Giacomo Agostini on the MV Agusta 350 Four Cylinder

Count Vincenzo and Domenico Agusta had a passion for mechanical workings and for motorcycle racing. Much like Enzo Ferrari, they produced and sold motorcycles almost exclusively to fund their racing efforts. They were determined to have the best Grand Prix motorcycle racing team in the world and spared no expense on their passion. MV Agusta produced their first prototype, called "Vespa 98", in 1945. After learning that the name had already been registered by Piaggio for its Vespa motorscooter, it was referred to simply by the number “98”. In 1948, the company built a 125 cc two-stroke single and entered Franco Bertoni in the Italian Grand Prix. Bertoni won the event held in Monza and instantly put the new motorcycle manufacturer on the map.

In 1949 season, the 125 cc or Ultra light weight class gained new prestige. More motorcycle manufacturers were competing in the inaugural World Championships that were held in Switzerland, Holland and Italy. The Mondial 125 cc DOHC design dominated the 1949 season. The MV riders placed 9th and 10th in the final standings. In 1950, Arturo Magni and Piero Remor joined the company after working with Gilera. Magni was the chief mechanic and Remor was chief designer [1]. The 1950 season and 1951 season were development years, as the company adopted the 125 Dohc four-stroke engine. Racing efforts only produced a fifth place finish at the Dutch TT in 1950. The 1951, results were only slightly better.

MV Racing engine 125 cc

The 1952 season saw the introduction of telescopic forks, full width alloy brake hubs and a sleek fuel tank on the 125 race bike. Power was 15bhp @ 10800 rpm. Britain's Cecil Sandford piloted the new MV 125 to a 1952 Isle of Man TT victory and went on to win MV Agusta's first world championship.

With the success of the 1952 season, independent or “privateer” riders could now purchase a “catalog” version of the 125 Dohc, now available through the company. The Sport Competizione racer had many of the same features as the factory bike. These included a multi-plate clutch, gear-driven oil pump, Dell'Orto 27mm SS1 carburetor and remote float chamber. The bike was nick-named “The Boy Racer”. In 1953 the race engineers adopted the Earl-type forks to help with handling problems on the works racers. The 1953 season saw the introduction of the 350 Four. MV’s racing efforts now included the 500 cc, 350 cc and 125 cc class.

The mid 1950s saw the introduction of the 175 cc class. MV Agusta produced the 175 CSS for street use and also developed a 175 cc production racer for privateer racing. The 175 cc was very popular in Britain in the mid 1950s. Racers like, Micheal O’Rourke, Derek Minter and Bob Keeler raced the 175 and 125 Sport Competizione around Europe with a great deal of success. The marketing strategy of “race it on Sunday , sell it on Monday” was employed. For racing, early MV racing engines had the right side casting removed for instant access to the gear box.

After the 1957 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, the Italian motorcycle manufacturers Gilera, Moto Guzzi and Mondial, jointly agreed to withdraw from Grand Prix competition, citing escalating costs and diminishing motorcycle sales as a reason. Count Agusta originally agreed to withdraw, but then had second thoughts. MV Agusta would go on to dominate Grand Prix racing, winning 17 consecutive 500 cc world championships. Count Agusta's competitive nature usually saw him hire some of the best riders of the time, namely Carlo Ubbiali, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, among others, and having the best engineers, most notably Arturo Magni. The three and four cylinder race bikes were known for their excellent road handling. The fire-engine red racing machines became a hallmark of Grand Prix racing in the 1960s and early 1970s.

With the death of Count Domenico Agusta in 1971, the company lost its guiding force. The company won their last Grand Prix in 1976, and by the 1980 Grand Prix motorcycle racing season, they were out of racing. Shortly thereafter, they ceased motorcycle production. Between 1948 and 1976 MV Agusta motorcycles had won over 3000 races and 63 World Championships overall. After MV Agusta left the racing scene in 1980, Magni began producing his own custom-framed MV motorcycles.[2]

Resurrected by Cagiva[edit | edit source]

F4 750 Oro

Cagiva purchased the MV Agusta name trademarks in 1991. In 1997, it introduced the first new MV Agusta motorcycle. The new bikes were four-cylinder 750 cc sports machines (the F4 range), which included a series of limited production run models, such as the all black paint work SPR model ("Special Production Racing") which was featured in the movie I, Robot and in 2004, they introduced their first 1000 cc bike. 2004 marked the end of production for the 750 sports machines, with a limited production of 300 SR (Special Racing) model in the traditional red and silver livery.

MV Agusta also made a limited number of F4 750 cc and F4 1000 cc Senna editions in memory of the late Formula One Champion Ayrton Senna, an avid Ducati and MV Agusta collector, in aid of the Instituto Ayrton Senna, his charity foundation in Brazil for children and young people. Three hundred models of each were made in the early 2000s.

They also produce a range of 750 and 910 naked bikes called the Brutale. Production is limited, as it is the policy of the company to produce an elite machine similar to Ferrari in motor cars. They do not compete directly with Japanese manufacturers, whose motorcycles typically sell for considerably less than the cost of an MV Agusta. Rather they compete with other Italian models such as Ducati sports bikes the 996, 998, 999, 1098, and the naked Monster. In 2005, MV Agusta introduced the Tamburini 1000, which is named after its creator, Massimo Tamburini, who previously worked for Moto Guzzi, and most recently Ducati. Cycle World and Australian Motorcycle News magazine named it the best sportbike in the world. Tamburini designed the Ducati 916 sports bike (predecessor of the 748 and 996 series) which marked the return of Ducati as a successful motorcycle manufacturer over the last decade. The MV Agusta F4 refined the innovative design of the 916. In recent publications, the MV Agusta has been highly praised as one of the best handling motorcycles ever created and the 2008 F4 312R model is known to be the world's fastest production motorcycle. Claimed power of the new F4 312R model is 183hp. In 1999 the Cagiva group was restructured for strategic purposes and MV Agusta become the main brand comprising Cagiva and Husqvarna.

MV Agusta's resurgence[edit | edit source]

Heavily indebted, the manufacturer was bought by Malaysian car maker Proton in December 2004 for €70 million. In December 2005 however, Proton decided to cut its ties with MV Agusta and sold it to GEVI SpA, a Genoa-based financing company related to Carige, for a token euro excluding debt. In 2006 that financing company, GEVI SpA, with 65% of the share capital, had refinanced MV Agusta, and by so doing allowed the company to continue, and brought MV Agusta ownership back to Italy.

In July 2007, MV Agusta Motor S.p.A, sold the Husqvarna motorcycle brand to BMW for an undisclosed amount.[3] According to MV Agusta president Claudio Castiglioni, the sale was a strategic step to concentrate all of the company's resources in order to expand MV Agusta and Cagiva presence in the international markets having more financial resources for new models development.[3]

Following years of stalled ownership, the Guggenheim's "Art of the Motorcycle" icon, the F4 model, was ready for a refresh but the financial status of the company did not allow it. On July 11, 2008, Harley-Davidson announced they had signed a definitive agreement to acquire the MV Agusta Group for US$109 million (€70M). The purchase raised hopes for a new direction for the company.[4][5] The acquisition was completed on August 8, 2008.[6]

On October 15, 2009, Harley-Davidson announced that it would divest its interest in MV Agusta.[7]

MV Agusta announce that for the first three months of 2010 bike sales went up 50%[8]

Return to racing[edit | edit source]

Daytona International Podium, MV Agusta F4

Although there were no factory racing efforts, independent (”privateer”) teams were racing the F4 750. In 2003, Big Show Racing, Chicago Illinois; fielded an F4 750 in the Formula USA, Daytona International Speedway 200 Mile Team Challenge. The team placed second overall with riders Larry Denning and Aaron Risinger piloting the bike.[9]

In May 2007, the company confirmed its return to racing in the 2008 Superbike World Championship. Carl Fogarty's English based Team Foggy Racing was going to run the team.[10] Fogarty however abandoned the plans to return to the Superbike World Championship because of lack of sponsorship.[11]

MV Agusta's racing program in 2008 competed in the Italian Superbike Championship. Luca Scassa won the Italian Superbike Championship on a MV Agusta factory backed effort from the racing department in Schiranna, Varese Italy.[12]

Production models 1946–1980[edit | edit source]

1952 150 cc Turismo
1953 MV Agusta 125
1954 MV Agusta 125TR
  • 98 cc 1946–1949
  • 125 Twin 1947
  • 125 3-Speed 1948–1949
  • 125 TEL 1949–1954
  • 125 CSL Scooter 1949–1951
1956 Pullman 125 cc
1956 MV Agusta 175CS Disco Volante
1961 MV Agusta 350
1968 MV Agusta 600
1975 MV Agusta 750S America
  • 250 1947–1951
  • 125 Motore Lungo 1950–1953
  • 125 CGT Scooter 1950–1952
  • 500 Turismo 1950
  • Ovunque Scooter 1951–1954
  • 150 1952–1953
  • 175 CS 1953–1959
  • Pullman 1953-1956
  • 125 Turismo Rapido 1954–1958
  • 48 Moped 1955–1959

  • Superpullman 1955–1957
  • 300 Twin 1955
  • Raid 250 cc and 300 cc 1956–1962
  • Ottantatre 83 cc 1958–1960
  • 175 A B 1958-1959
  • 125 TREL. Centomila 1959–1963
  • 150 4T 1959–1970
  • Chicco Scooter 1960–1964
  • Tevere 235 1959–1960
  • Checca ( 83 cc, 99 cc, 125cc ) 1960–1969
  • Liberty 50 cc 1962–1969
  • Germano 50 cc 1964–1968
  • Arno 166 GT 1964–1965
  • 125 GT-GTL 1964–1973
  • 125 Regolarita 1965–1970
  • 250 Twin 1966–1971
  • Four Cylinder series 1965–1980
  • 600 tourer
  • 750 GT
  • 750SS
  • 750 Sport (drum brake) 1972–1974
  • 750 Sport (Disc brake) 1974
  • 750 Sport America 1975–1978
  • 850SS
  • MV Agusta 350B Sport 1970–1974
  • 350 Ipotesi 1975–1980
  • 125 Sport 1975–1980

Race models 1946–1976[edit | edit source]

MV Agusta
  • 98/125 Two Stroke 1946–1949
  • 125 Twin-Cam 1950–1960
  • 500 cc Shaft Drive Four
  • MV Agusta 125 Sohc 1953–1956
  • 175 Twin-Cam 1955–1958
  • 250 Single 1955–1959
  • 350 Twin 1957
  • 250 Twin 1959–1966
500 cc Four
  • 500 cc Six Cylinder 1957–1958
  • 125 Disc Valve 1965
  • 350 cc Three Cylinder 1965–1973
  • MV Agusta 500 Three 1966–1974
  • 350 cc Six Cylinder 1969
  • 350 cc Four Cylinder 1971–1976
  • 500 cc Four Cylinder 1973–1976

Models 1998 to 2009 -[edit | edit source]

1999 MV Agusta F4
2002 MV Agusta F4S 1+1
2002 MV Agusta F4 SPR
2002 MV Agusta F4 Strada
2004 MV Agusta F4-1000 Tamburini
2004 MV Agusta F4-1000
2004 MV Agusta Brutale S


  • Brutale 1078 RR
  • Brutale 989 R
  • Brutale 910 R
  • Brutale 910 S
  • Brutale 750S


Limited Editions

A limited production edition of the F4 1000 R known as the F4 CC, named after Claudio Castiglioni (the managing director of MV Agusta), is the most expensive production motorcycle with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $120,000 USD.

External links[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. MV Agusta All production road and racing motorcycles. Mick Walker. Osprey Publishing Limited
  2. Neale Bayly (January/February 2008). Magni 861: The bike MV Agusta Should Have Built. Motorcycle Classics. Retrieved on 2009-08-10.
  3. 3.0 3.1 BMW Buys Husqvarna From MV Agusta retrieved on September 30, 2007
  4. "Harley-Davidson Acquires Both MV Agusta & Cagiva!", Retrieved on 2008-07-11.
  5. "Harley-Davidson to acquire Mv Agusta Group expanding presence in Europe", Retrieved on 2008-07-11.
  6. Harley-Davidson Completes Acquisition of MV Agusta
  7. Barrett, Rick (15 October 2009). Harley drops two lines, income plummets.
  9. Roadracing World & Motorcycle Technology Magazine. December 2003 Vol. 13 #12
  10. "Fogarty team confirms 2008 return", BBC SPORT, May 2, 2007. Retrieved on May 19, 2010.
  11. Foggy Racing scraps WSBK return. retrieved 0n September 30, 2007
  12. MV Austa racing program for the 2008 season. Retrieved on 2008-03-27.