Motocourse Feature: 1976 - MV Agusta: A living legend, but for how long? is delighted to announce that we will be partnering with Motocourse, the bible of world championship motorcycle racing, to bring readers some highlights from the history of the sport. We will be regularly posting features from the early editions of Motocourse, to help bring some insight into the history of motorcycle racing, and how we got where we are today. There are some fascinating parallels to events in the present, and much to be learned from the past. If you enjoy these articles, Motocourse have editions available in their electronic archive and via their free iPad app.

Today's article is a look at MV Agusta. Written in 1976, as their long reign in Grand Prix racing was coming to an end. It marked the end of the four-stroke era, and the birth of what is often referred to as the modern era, when two-stroke 500s ruled the roost. As the article consists of a series of scans, click on the image to expand it to full size, then navigate through the pages by clicking on the right or left hand side of the images.

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Back in the 60's and 70's there was a shop in Lafayette California that I ended up sponsored by for a while. In the sort of downstairs back room the owner kept an MV750S America. Of course I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

But the "story" behind it was even better. Rick, the owner, wanted one bady and they were almost impossible to get in the US. So over the course of a few years he had a friend who spoke and wrote Italian send repeated letters to MV asking if he could buy one. He never got a reply. Nothing. Then one day in the early 70's he got a call from the port of San Francisco that there was a large package for him at Pier ??. So he and a couple of the employees jumped in the trusty Econoline and drove to SF and found the pier and walked into the office. The person in charge led them to a large wooden crate sitting at the loading dock. You can guess what it was. Shipped to him in the crate with an attached letter and invoice for whatever million Lira, all in Italian.

It took him a day or two to get customs straightened out. Then he got the letter and invoice translated and got some sort of international bank draft for the price (I'm thinking it was $3-4k USD?) and sent it off to pay for it.

There was a rumor that at Laguna Seca in 1975 Joe Parkhurst offered him $10,000 cash for it and he turned it down.

I never got to ride it but I did get to sit on it, and ride next to it a few times. Whatever they cost now they are worth it.

Back in the late 60's, early 70's - I can't remember exactly when - Motor Cycle News got the first ever road going 4 cylinder MV in the UK, and made it the prize in a competition.

It was won by a bloke who lived down the bottom of my road. He was a family man in his 40's, possibly older and didn't fancy riding the 'monster' on the road. So he put a huge sidecar on it.

I've no idea what happened to the MV. He might have ridden it into the ground.

The MV story. Sure, its only of interest to us older blokes that still follow GP. MV were it. In my youth it was the holy grail of sports motorcycles. I drooled over the 815 Monza which MCN back in the day set a 144mph speed record for a production bike. '78 I think it was. I knew the bike was absolutely unattainable and had by then purchased a Ducati 750 Sport. I've never switched brands since. I hear people refer to Ducati as the Ferrari of bikes. Rubbish! Italy's MV AGUSTA of yore is actually IT.
Fascinating history lesson. I never could, back in the day figure why MV never ran chain drive on the AMERICA S. Ducati trounced them in 1972 with Smart and Spaggiari at Imola. Truth is,back then, I always dreamed of owning an MV, but had to settle for the fish and chips Ducati brand. The similarities between the two factories are so much the same when it comes to racing.
The glaring difference is that Ducati's huge success was in proddy racing, MV's in what was prototype in the day.
Right now, I would not buy an F41000-312RR nor a PanigalleR even if I could justify it financially.I'd swap the cash for a Ducati 250 desmo sport anyday. Then there is the one that got away. Back in 1978 I had the opportunity to trade my 1974 Sport on a 1974 (round case) 750SS Desmo. The asking price to this day I will never forget...ZAR2800-00 South African rand, about 160 GBP in todays language. When I decided to hunt it down it had been shipped to Aus for a princely sum. Still got the 750S though. Anyway that was a diversion from the MV story.
MV were so hot in the day I remember the Aussie Mag TWO WHEELS doing a comprehensive shootout in 1973 or so with the MV 750 on the dyno actually trouncing Kawasaki's mighty Mach 4 into 2nd place with a phenomenal 60BHP at the rear wheel for the day,shaft drive and all.
For what its worth the Honda KI ran 54, the Trident 53, the Commando 53, the Ducati GT 49, the Suz waterbuss 47,the Guzzi and BMW twins were about 46.
Anyone remember points and condensors?
Thanks for the article David.