MV Agusta – the magic of a name Wheels24

18 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on MV Agusta – the magic of a name Wheels24
MV Agusta 350 GT

MV Agusta – the magic of a name


Is there a more illustrious name in motorcycle parlance than MV Agusta? I think not. Steeped in history, this highly successful and grand Italian family employed the services of some of the greatest of riders… Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Luigi Taveri, Mike Hailwood, John Surtees and Gary Hocking, to name a few.

I first came across this iconic brand in the 1960’s as an apprenticed teenager in the print trade who even back then was mad about bikes. A competition in the weekly MCN (Motor Cycle News) had me filling in at least 10 entries – the prize? A brand new, 750cc MV Agusta!

No, I didn’t win, but I did get to read a few weeks later in an interview with the winner that he was “highly delighted with his prize and was about to bolt a sidecar to it!” How sad is that!


When a motorcycle brand wins every motorcycle race across Europe, including the really tough Isle of Man, you just have to sit up and take notice. Even the 1988 sidecar championship was won using MV power.

World championship-winning ways started way before then for the Italian brand; 1952 would have been the first in the 125 cc class – the rider Englishman Cecil Sandford.

If you’ve ever wondered what the initials MV stand for let me tell you: Meccanica Verghera, a company name thought up by Count Domenica Agusta after the Second World War when his inherited aircraft company was in the doldrums, so: “let’s make motorcycle music!”

MV Agusta 350 GT

Swinging over from aircraft to motorcycle research and development came easily to the eponymous Count Agusta; after all, he had plenty of engineers standing around just looking for direction. The inspiration finally paid dividends in the capable hands of Sandford and Italian maestro Carlo Ubbiali but the 250/350/500cc was where the count really wanted to show his class and for ever more put his name into the hallowed halls of top-drawer motorcycling.


1956, John Surtees and MV Agusta … all indelibly linked with possibly the greatest period in the brand’s history. Surtees’ blend of riding and development skills meant the 500 cc crown was his but the best was yet to come. in 1958 through to 1960 Surtees won the 350 and 500 crowns – and he became the only person to win the World title on two wheels and four.

In fact, from 1958 to 1974, the 500cc World titles would remain with MV Agusta. Rhodesian star Gary Hocking collected the 350 and 500 titles for the company in 1961 but tragedy was to strike the talented rider just 12 months later. After giving up motorcycles to race a Lotus he was killed in a sports car race in the then Natal.

Hailwood continued to thrill motorcycle fans – nobody had a fan base quite as big as Mike’s with four continuous 500cc titles won through his fantastic skill and mechanical feel for a bike – but it was the good-looking Italian rider Agostini who eclipsed him with seven 500cc titles between 1966 and 1972 aboard MV’s.

Yes, there has to be something magical about owning a motorcycle that oozes heritage and royalty as found on Count Agusta’s motorcycles. Yes, I know about Lord Hesketh and Royal Enfield. but more about these lesser mortals some other time!

MV Agusta 350 GT
MV Agusta 350 GT

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