YOUNG MEN IN THEIR
The history of Agusta started in 1907, when Count Giovanni Agusta, a Sicilian aristocrat with a passion for flying machines, founded the Agusta aeronautics company. He soon moved to Northern Italy, in Cascina Costa near today’s Malpensa airport. The Count had signed up in Malpensa’s first Air Battalion. Production of airplanes boomed during World War I.
Count Giovanni died in 1927, his widow Countess Giuseppina and son Domenico succeeded him at the helm of the family business. After the war the airplane industry had dramatically declined, and Domenico decided to diversify into motorcycles, yet airplanes production was not abandoned. It soared again through World War II, but motorcycles had definitively entered the company’s DNA.
As a consequence of the war, airplane production was forbidden in Italy, so the Agustas focused on motorcycles. They created the MV "Meccaniche Verghera" brand in 1945. The first MV branded motorcycle was officially launched in the autumn of that year. Originally it was meant to be called “Vespa”, but the name had already been registered! It more simply went down in history as the “MV 98”. The Agustas’ passion for avionics clearly showed in their motorcycles, giving them a raging racing soul, and the MV 98 started a winning string for the brand that was to last for decades.
The MV 98 was immediately upgraded to the “MV 98 Sport” model, with an impressive 5hp engine, a telescopic fork, a shorter frame and sportier handling. Other models followed soon, with increasing horsepower and cylinder capacity. They made a sensation at the 1947 Milan Trade Fair, where Agusta also presented its first “luxury” version of the original 98.
The two-stroke 98cc was the first MV branded motorcycle.
MV Agusta's first rider on the 98 machines and later the 125s. His, and the brand's, first victory came in 1947 in Carate Brianza, near Milan.
The Zefiro125 twin was dubbed "little frog" for the sound of its 5hp engine. It could reach an impressive speed of 85 km/h.
MV Agusta's 125 cc scooter had a two-stroke single cylinder engine and a four-speed gearbox.
Artesani was important for MV Agusta in his double role as a race and test rider. He was the first to ride the tricky 500 four-cylinder in a race.
THE GOLDEN YEARS
Track success has repercussions on the sales of series motorcycles. They are sporty models, but also accessible to most. The MV brand scooter also appeared in 1949, further expanding the market. In 1953, sales reached and exceeded the 20,000 mark. The same year the company opened a factory in Spain with a license for export to international markets.
The road version of the MV 500 racer made a sensation at the 1950 Milan Motorcycle Show.
This ex-RAF pilot rode the twin-cam MV 125 for its first win of a long series, on September 30th, 1951 at Thruxton, England.
One the all-time greats. Nicknamed "the flying chinaman" because of his appearance, he won five World Championships in the 125 category, and two in the 250. He was also three-time Italy's champion in the 125 class and won the 250 title twice.
Simple, robust and comfortable. the "fat-wheeled" pullman was a huge success.
A stylish rider, Libanori was one of count Domenico's favourites. Among his numerous wins, the 1955 race in Crema with the single-cam 175 MV with the twin-cam kit.
AND RACING BIKES
Ignoring the first signs of a new oncoming crisis, Agusta defiantly decided to acquire the licenses for the production of Bell Helicopters. This move brought new, leading-edge technology to the already legendary MV Agusta racing bikes, making them nearly invincible.
The first MV Agusta designed by an external "celebrity" designer, Giannini. It was extremely refined also under technical aspects, with avant-garde details such as electric starting.
When Count Domenico signed him up, John Surtees was already a superstar, with seventy seven wins as a visiting card. Surtees gave MV Agusta its first World Championship title in the 500 class.
The unusual 83cc was a utility, light-weight machine. It sported a large toolbox to fill the central space.
This 125cc light motorcycle was so reliable its warranty was extended to 100,000 Km, hence its nickname "centomila" (hundred thousand).
The Chicco's 155 CC two-stroke single cylinder engine was specifically designed for this model. This elegant, well proportioned machine, went on the market with a hefty price tag of 157.500 Lire.
THE RACE TRACK
Mass car ownership caused a sharp decline in the sales of motorcycle production, yet MV Agusta’s response was to offer ever innovative models that appealed to the true motorcycle enthusiasts. The strategy paid off also thanks to MV Agusta’s uninterrupted successes on the race tracks. 1965 was the start of what was probably the most celebrated combination in the history of racing motorcycling: that of Giacomo Agostini and MV Agusta’s inline three-cylinder.
One of the greatest riders of all times. He invented the "froglike" position, with knees splayed outwards. The winner of 1965 Tourist Trophy with the 4-cylinder 500.
Italy's 1964 champion in the 125 class with the MV 125 twin-cam.
The most celebrated partnership in the history of motorcycling: Giacomo Agostini and MV Agusta. In his career, "Ago" won 311 races, including 125 World Championships events and 10 Isle of Man's TTs. He won 13 World Championships and 18 Italian titles. He made his victorious curtain call with the brand in 1976 at the Nürburgring.
MV Agusta was actively involved in trials competitions throughout the 60's. The 125 Regolarità was specifically designed for competition.
4 CILINDRI 600CC
Closely related to the racing machines of the time, the 600 four cylinders attracted enthusiastic sporting riders like moths to a flame.
AND THE END
OF AN ERA
Agostini’s and MV Agusta’s domination of the world’s race tracks lasted well into the 1970’s. After the death of Count Domenico in 1971, the company suffered from financial difficulties and internal controversy about what strategy to adopt for the future. On August 29, 1976, the 15-time world champion from Brescia rode a MV 500 for his last victory in a Grand Prix. It was also to be MV Agusta’s last appearance on the highest step of a podium. An ailing MV Agusta carried on with a limited number of models and reduced investments in racing until the last motorcycle was rolled out of the Cascina Costa hangars, in 1980.
With its red, white and blue livery, it can be considered the first "America".
The 350 Twin was MV Agusta's response to the increasing demand for a top performing medium-sized bike.
Pugnacious and rigorous, Phil Read was Agostini's natural successor. Read was not prepared to play second fiddle to anyone. The already five-time World Champion went on to win a sixth title for MV Agusta. Known for his taste for luxury, he was often seen arriving at the circuits in a white Rolls Royce.
In 1992 the MV Agusta trademark was acquired by Claudio Castiglioni’s Cagiva (CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese), that had started producing motorcycles under its own brand twelve years earlier in Schiranna, on the shores of Lake Varese, after taking over the ailing Aermacchi-Harley-Davidson short-lived venture. The move proved immediately successful as the MV Agusta brand had retained most of its enormous popularity with racing bikes enthusiasts.
Ducati was among Castiglioni’s acquisitions at the time, and the brand, now out of the Cagiva galaxy, was to foster the birth of a new paradigm in the industry: the “naked” sports motorcycles. It was dubbed “Monster”, and the legend has it that it was named after the popular figurines that were found at the time in the packs of a well known brand of crisps. Apparently the son of the motorcycle's designer, Galluzzi, was very fond of those crisps.
Claudio Castiglioni was an entrepreneur of extraordinary vision, with a real passion for racing. He single-handedly turned around Italy’s motorcycle industry, expanding production and investing in R&D both in racing and production . After his premature death, in 2011, his son Giovanni took the lead of MV Agusta. Giovanni continued in his father’s footsteps, upholding the values of craftsmanship, superior design and leading-edge innovative technology. Under his leadership, MV Agusta created true icons such as the Brutale, the ultimate naked sports motorcycle, and the F3, the best middle-weight racing motorcycle. He was also a pioneer in seeking partnerships with Pirelli’s leading design center, and Lewis Hamilton, five-time F1 World Champion, to create exclusive, inspiring motorcycles. A roaring tradition that continues today, on the quiet shores of Lake Varese.
The first bike of the new era. Also the first superbike, and still the unfading, absolute reference for this segment.
MV Agusta's first naked. Aggressive, stylish. An iconic design statement. This version had a 750 cc four-stroke four-cylinder engine.
Following the general trend of ever increasing performance, MV Agusta presented the F4 1000.
The sportiest mid-sized superbike. It had an inline-three engine and featured a counter-rotating crankshaft, on top of many technological advancements.
3 CILINDRI 800
Stemming from the F3, also the new Brutale range featured a new inline-three engine.
Inspired by "motards", the Rivale, presented in 2013 in Vence, used the same engine as the Brutale 800.
The first MV Agusta to target the "tourers" segment. It was designed for a more comfortable ride, yet retained MV Agusta's racing soul.
The "motard" range extended into the "Dragster", so -named because of its blistering acceleration and its extra-wide rear tyre.
Conceived as the "entry level" version of the Turismo Veloce, it had the same specification but offered less protection.
A complete, handcrafted, reinterpretation of the Dragster. Pure Motorcycle Art.
Past, present and future, the most beautiful motorcycle in the world. The MV Agusta F4 Claudio is the culmination of an extraordinary story, an achievement capable of radically changing the sports motorcycle concept itself. A product of Massimo Tamburini's flair and Claudio Castiglioni's insight (the latter insisted on defining every last detail personally), the F4 was presented to the public in 1997, immediately becoming“the world's best-looking motorycle”. The launch marked a triumphant return for MV Agusta, a brand that has brought home more world championship trophies than any other.
Racing is the ultimate test bench of every engineering design, the unrelenting battlefield where every component is stressed to the extreme, pushed to the very limit. It is the “laboratory” where new technical concepts are taken to be experimented with and, in some cases conceived, with the sole focus of achieving the maximum possible performance. Power output must be strong and explosive, while the electronics must be extremely refined to allow the rider to harness all the power, bending it to his will.
History is a reflection of time, formed by memories. But, at the same time, offers a glimpse into the future. MV Agusta has formed its roots during epic racing battles: 37 world titles, legendary victories, challenges at the limits of the impossible. Emotions that have contributed to the creation of the legend of “Meccanica Verghera”.