THOSE DARING YOUNG MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES
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 aeroplanes boomed during World War I
FROM AEROPLANES TO MOTORCYCLES
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 aeroplane industry had dramatically declined, and Domenico decided to diversify into motorcycles, yet aeroplanes production was not abandoned. It soared again through World War II, but motorcycles had definitively entered the company’s DNA
THE FIRST MV BRANDED MOTORCYCLE
As a consequence of the war, aeroplane 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 ROARING FORTIES
The MV 98 was 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. FRANCO BERTONI MV Agusta’s first racer on the 98 machines and later the 125s. His, and the brand’s first victory came in 1947 in Carate Brianza, near Milan.
THE GOLDEN YEARS
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 road version of the MV 500 racer made a sensation at the 1950 Milan Motorcycle Show. Track success has repercussions on the sales of series motorcycles. They are sporty models, but also accessible to most. 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.
UNCHALLENGED DOMINATORS OF 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. MIKE HAILWOOD One of the greatest riders of all time. He invented the “froglike” position, with knees splayed outwards. The winner of 1965 Tourist Trophy with the 4-cylinder 500.
1965 was the start of what was probably the most celebrated combination in the history of motorcycle racing: that of 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.
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 an 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.
RISING FROM THE ASHES
In 1992, Claudio Castiglioni’s Cagiva acquired the MV Agusta brand and moved production to its facility on the shores of Lake Varese, in Schiranna, where MV Agusta motorcycles are still produced today. Under the visionary guidance of Claudio Castiglioni the brand never ceased to represent Italy’s best motorcycling tradition and even acquired further prestige and recognition. Castiglioni single-handedly revolutionised the motorcycle industry, heavily investing in R&D and in production. The four-cylinder, 750 cc F4 was the first bike of the new era, and also the first superbike. It is still considered “the best looking bike ever”. Claudio also invented the concept of the “naked” bike, a new paradigm in the motorcycling world.
After his premature death in 2011, his son Giovanni succeeded him at the helm and continued in the family’s pioneering tradition. He actively sought and developed partnerships with world-class names such as Pirelli and Formula1 champion Lewis Hamilton to further broaden the reach and the appeal of the brand. Giovanni was behind the creation of the “Brutale”, the ultimate naked, and the F3, the best middle-weight sports bike with an inline-three cylinders engine and a counter-rotating crankshaft. Under his guidance, other remarkable models such as the Dragster and the Turismo Veloce, an opening into the tourers’ world, as well as successive evolutions of the F3 and F4, were acclaimed both by critics and motorcycling enthusiasts.
IMPORTANT NEW STEP
In 2019 the Sardarov family acquired 100% of the company’s capital and Timur Sardarov, MV Agusta’s present CEO, was ready to take on a leading role. Under his leadership, MV Agusta’s new roadmap strongly focussed on stability, quality, customer relations, service and on the expansion of the product range and of the sales network. New MV Agusta models such as the Serie Oro limited editions of the Superveloce 800 and Brutale 1000 RR, a tribute to the brand’s legacy of design, speed and leading-edge technology, were immediately recognised as true champions of the MV Agusta spirit.
HISTORIC MOMENT IN TIME
Timur Sardarov, CEO of MV Agusta Motor S.p.A., commented “Being at the head of MV Agusta at this historic moment in time is exciting and challenging. I consider it a great privilege, and also a great responsibility, but looking back at MV Agusta’s legacy, I know we are standing on the shoulders of a giant, and this gives me great pride and confidence in breaking new ground every day, launching innovative technology, new incredible models, and expanding into markets we have never entered before.”