Last of the Breed: MV Agusta 850SS — Classic Italian Motorcycles — Motorcycle…

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MV Agustas to Sell at Mecum’s Auction

Wanna buy an MV Agusta? How 71 at once? Mecum Auctions has up what must be the single la.

on eBay: 1977 MV Agusta America Magni

As if a stock MV 750S America wouldn’t be to get our attention, this week’s searc.

MV Agusta Collection to Mecum’s Monterey Auction

MV Agusta 850SS 

Claimed . 85hp @ 9,500rpm

Top speed . (est.)

Engine . 837cc DOHC inline four, x 56mm bore and …, compression ratio

Weight 517lb (235kg)

Fuel . 6.3gal (24ltr)

Price . $6,400 (approx.)/$40,000-$70,000

It is unlikely MV Agusta’s run of 17 consecutive Grand world championships will be equaled, let alone beaten. 1958 to 1974, the bright red engines” of Meccanica Verghera dominated the premier 500cc

No other manufacturer came That is, until the Japanese extended their supremacy of the capacity classes into the big Not to take anything away Count Domenico Agusta’s machines, but they did make at the right time.

At the end of the 1957 MV’s three most competitors — Gilera, Moto and FB Mondial — all closed their departments, and Norton had pulled out in That gave MV the pick of the riders of the era: John Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Gary Hocking and Phil With no factory-based competition, MV swept the field in 350cc and racing right through the

MV four beginnings 

The road led to the 850SS started with Piero Remor, who arrived at MV in late 1949 with an resume. In 1923, he and Carlo had designed a 4-cylinder, air-cooled overhead camshaft motorcycle

Gilera acquired the rights, it into the famous “Rondine” overhead cam, liquid-cooled, racer of the 1930s.

Following the ban on superchargers in GP racing, Remor, now at Gilera, redesigned the Rondine, the classic normally aspirated, double overhead cam four brought Gilera six 500cc Championship titles between

Enter MV Agusta. Banned producing aircraft (its business until 1945) World War II, the Agusta company had to motorcycles. Count Domenico, son of the founder and a motorcycle enthusiast, racing to promote Agusta

Before 1950, only the big bike makers — Gilera, Guzzi and Benelli — had tackled competition in the larger capacity but Il Conto was nothing if not ambitious. he lured Remor away Gilera in 1949, there was doubt of his intentions. MV’s four, looking much the Gilera, appeared in early

Yet while the engine’s common was apparent, the rest of the bike was new and

The MV four was shaft-driven, its transmission out longitudinally behind the engine and by bevel gears. Equally was the torsion bar springing front and the girder-style front end using steel blades, and the rear by a pair of swingarms. That the company acquired the services of 500cc world champion Les and Remor’s former chief from Gilera, Arturo

A street version of the four, the was shown at the Milan show in 1950. It never went production, and it would be 15 years MV proposed another road-going

Continuing track development saw the unconventional suspension and drivetrain with the 1952 MV four chain final drive telescopic fork front and rear suspension. This basic formula would win 10 world championships by 1966.

In 1956, Count Domenico 21-year-old John Surtees, who earned the name figlio del . “son of the wind.” The result was first world championship in the class. Gilera’s parting in 500cc racing yielded a Championship for Libero Liberati in from then on, MV Agusta rack up 17 consecutive World titles.

MV continued with the same 8-valve double cam four until 1966, by time the design was looking old. Combustion chamber had moved on, and the “hemi” head was by a modern 4-valve arrangement on the 500 triple. A new 500 four with 16 appeared in 1973, winning final two 500cc championships for Read.

MV’s street

It’s said the imperious yet Count feared a competitor obtain one of his race bikes, or improve on it, and challenge Agusta on the For this reason, he ordered the of all retired race bikes, and may also explain why the R19GT was built. But with the retirement of the valvole in 1966, Agusta agreed to a street version.

so, the street version would be electric start and shaft drive, with the idea it could never be competitively

The first street version most of the 8-valve racer’s key like its gear-driven overhead but with changes like cylinders and a revised crankshaft to simplify manufacture. Starting and was by a belt-driven Bosch Dynastart under the rear of the engine. the elegant and purposeful engine was to just 50 horsepower, yet the bike close to 500 pounds, so performance was than sparkling.

The 600 was also with brutally ugly with a bizarre rectangular nacelle and humped gas tank. Yet it a race-style, cable-operated Campagnolo front brake setup. 127 production 600s were over seven years, and remain an acquired taste.

The 750S and 750GT 

By 1970, the Count was forced to concede what MV fans wanted was a version. However, he insisted the drive be retained, and the 750S was the The extra capacity came a bore increase to 65mm the 600’s 58mm, while 24mm Dell’Ortos replaced the two similar instruments; the Campagnolo was ditched in favor of a four-leading-shoe Grimeca.

The big change was in the styling, was considerably sportier. The clip-on sleek tank, four-into-four velocity stacks and humped all echoed the 8-valve racer. was quoted as 66 horsepower at 8,000rpm.

the Count died suddenly 1971, with control of passing to his brother Corrado, who had interest in motorcycles. Regardless, the appeared for 1972, essentially a 750S with touring and handlebars. It wasn’t a wild either, with just 50 in 1972-1974.

MV Agusta 500 SS

1974 brought revisions. A new 750S appeared, at first glance by its Scarab front brakes. Revised cam larger valves and intake and 27mm Dell’Ortos gave 69 at 8,500rpm.

From 1970-1974, 560 750Ss in all variants were

The U.S. market

Now under EFIM ownership and managed by Ducati boss Fredmano MV was persuaded that a large for their premium-priced and exotic existed in the U.S. The resulting MV of 1975-1976 boasted a slightly 67mm bore for 790cc; 9.5:1 compression it made 75 at 7,500rpm.

EPM cast alloy were an option to spoked rims, and the gearshift was now on the left, of a cross-shaft behind the engine A new, squared-off gas tank was to angular side panels and a seat with a small box on the bump-stop. To meet U.S. regulations the four 26mm breathed through a new airbox, and the exhausted into matte Lafranconi mufflers.

The original four-into-four chrome remained an option and were included in the crate with the

Like many other makers, though, MV discovered there was no pot of gold awaiting in the U.S. market. The oil crisis and a economy conspired to limit of the America, and fewer than 500 are to have been produced.

day in the sun was coming to an end: The dominance of 500cc 2-strokes in GP and the Yamaha TZ in 750 left no room for a bespoke maker in perpetual financial to go racing successfully. And without the of racing success — the cornerstone of the business model — the appearance of the MV in 1977 represented a last

Essentially a big-bore 750 America, the displaced 837cc thanks to a bore. With revised (using an America intake cam for the 27mm Dell’Ortos and nominal compression, the 850SS produced a respectable 85 horsepower at 9,500rpm, some reports claiming as as 95 horsepower.

Most details as per the America, though Brembo replaced the Scarabs at the front, and the drum also went in of a Brembo disc. In fact, the 27 — or 35, or 42, on the source — 850SSs built really modified Americas, no doubt retrofits from stock of unsold 750s. the company struggled on until the factory closed in 1977, and no street models were

Dale Baston’s MV Agusta

Vancouver, British Columbia, collector and restorer Dale had an 850SS on his shopping list for a while. “I had a hankering for one for a number of Baston says, explaining “MV Agusta; the mystique. I read a lot them before I bought

Baston’s MV is one of the 16 or so 850SSs imported the U.S. by distributor Garville At least, it was an 850 when sold by the Calif. dealer: Apparently, 850SSs were conversions 750 Americas, carried out by distributors advice from MV. As 850SS numbers were in the same as the America, it’s impossible to if it left the factory as a 750 or 850.

found his 850SS in San Jose, The prior owner had been to sell the bike by auction, but had a reserve — more than wanted to pay. The lure was though, and after an abortive to buy a different 850 from an unscrupulous seller, Baston ponied up for the San bike.

Up to that time, Baston had never actually an 850. “I thought it might be than I could handle,” says. ”There were a few adverse comments in the contemporary tests — twitchy handling at speed, for example. The clutch was to be hopeless in traffic, way too heavy, all of things. None of which proved to be a problem at all.”

thinks tire choice is critical to handling, an opinion up by MV user forums. His other was weight. “It is heavy,” he says, its claimed 517-pound dry weight, the only problem I have it is when I’m pushing it around. I to be careful it doesn’t get off center. But it, it’s not a problem.”

Power is, Baston says, “quite All the contemporary road tests to get very close to 140mph. got more power than ever use. It’s delightful to ride. I haven’t any faults at all with it really — than it draws a lot of attention.”

Since this bike is a Baston has made minor to suit his preferences. Changes adding a voltmeter (essential on an bike from this moving the ignition switch its almost inaccessible location the fuel tank to the dashboard, the black Aprilia headlight a chrome Lucas unit an early 1970s Triumph, the flaky starter button a more robust item and the flexible brake hose the master cylinder with line. He’s also the redundant drum brake mounting lug from the rear tubes and added a prop for the seat. “Purists will see the I’ve changed on it,” he yet he’s tried not to detract its originality.

His only complaint the 850SS so far is the small size of the hump glove box, which he can just squeeze a of Rukka rain pants. though, he’s delighted the bike. “Some people consider it a folly, but not me.” MC

one way a collector got his hands on an MV Agusta: He one. Read more in an MV Agusta? Why Not Make One?


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