Rare 1977 MV Agusta
26th July 2017
Mecum | Auctions | Monterey | 850SS
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This is the last and the largest of the MV 4-cylinder racers. Who says so? Mecum Auctions in the USA which will be offering for sale this rare 1977 piece of sex-on-wheels. The factory-built motorcycle is one of just 27 based upon the superlative 850SS platform. The legendary tuner Arturo Magni was the driving force behind these world championship winning projectiles, each of which was capable of hitting 150mph with aplomb, and to this day capable of waking grown men from their slumbers with the echo of that timeless MV Agusta roar.
Notable features include a hand-formed race fairing and bodywork; a hand-formed aluminium fuel tank; magnesium wheels; Lockheed front brake calipers; Dell Orto SS31 carburettors; a dry clutch; magneto ignition; a Magni chain-drive conversion; a 14,000 RPM tachometer and a very short fuse.
And if you want a little extra icing on this particular cake, you can check the signatures on the bike which were scribbled by the two most illustrious MV Agusta factory riders, Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read.
In its time, MV was unbeatable. The company, rooted in the 1920s, had during WW2 been widely recognised as a quality (i.e. dangerous) aircraft manufacturer. Post-hostilities, the terms of the surrender demanded that the firm should look for other ways to earn its keep. So the management shifted from aggressive aircraft production to equally aggressive motorcycle manufacture.
Through the 1950s into the 1960s, MV earned a reputation for quality cafe racer style 125cc and 150cc bikes. Seven years after the company was founded in 1945, it won its first world championship with Cecil Sandford at the helm. Sandford was a British rider who twice became a world champion Grand Prix rider, and twice saw victory at the Isle of Man TT. And the last we heard, he was still in the race.
MV Agusta later seized and held the 125cc, 250cc, 350cc and 500cc titles simultaneously. That was in 1958, 1959 and 1960. Between 1958 and 1974, the company won all 500cc class championships. However, in 1976 the Italian racing maestros, faced with a new breed of Japanese hardware, retired from racing with 270 Grand Prix races, 38 World Riders' Championships, and 37 World Championships under its belt.
Mecum Auctions hasn't posted an estimate on this bike, and we've no idea what this competition-only motorcycle might fetch. But we'll be watching with interest and will post details here. The sale will take place at Monterey, California between 16th and 19th August 2017. It's Lot S155.
The bike, take note, hasn't seen much action in a long, long time. Instead, it's been cosseted at the Virgil Elings Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum in California. And it's a shame that such a well-bred, track-toasting, race-winning piece of significant motorcycle history should be holed-up like a fugitive. But that's the price of fame.
We'll be sticking to our common or garden variety Triumphs, BSAs and Nortons.
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