Potted History of Classic Benelli:
2011 is the centenary celebration year for Benelli, an
Italian motorcycle maker established in Pesaro
on the Adriatic coast in 1911.
They may not be at the top of most British bikers
recognised greats because they are so highly underrated but read
on� you may be surprised. The
company was started by 6 brothers, Giuseppe, Giovanni,
Francesco, Filippo, Domenico and Antonio (�Tonino�) and
is one of the oldest surviving motorcycle builders in Italy.
They have been highly innovative, for example in
1927 the company built a
175cc overhead cam racer which proved to be unbeatable and
similarly their upgraded 1932 model with double overhead cams
By the mid 1930�s
Benelli was one of the top five Italian motorcycle manufacturers
and in 1938 they built a supercharged 250cc four-cylinder-water
cooled bike developing 62 bhp but development was curtailed by
the onset of WWII. In
were the first bike builder to fit disc brakes, the first to
design and use cartridge style gear clusters for easy ratio race
changes and the first to build a road going 6 cylinder
they were the first to build a 250cc 4 cylinder bike called the
Quattro. They have
gained many prestigious TT wins and their
list of world famous race riders include
Renzo Pasolini, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Tarquino Provini,
Silvio Grassetti and Kel Carruthers - who won the 1969 250cc
World championship - an enviable reputation for such a small
the 1960�s Benelli employed 550 people and built 300
motorcycles a day.
A decade later they and Moto
Guzzi were acquired by Argentinean Alejandro De Tomaso
(world renowned manufacturer of the mid mounted Ford V8
engined Pantera sports car) because both were in financial
Tomaso was linked with the Ford Motor Company and a noted
He brought his considerable
design talents to bear on the Benelli Sei (Italian for six)
range amongst others.
you are unconvinced about the amazing
Benelli Company, go visit
but brush up on your Italian first, it's well worth it!
(click �Benelli� - �The Models�
- �Anteguerra� page for the fascinating oldies or �Anni 70�
Benelli is now
owned by the Chinese conglomerate Qianjiang (pronounced
Chin-jung) but still operate out of Pesaro their more recent
history is best served by those �futuristic� bike magazines.
For a greater insight into the Benelli story please see
Classic Bike Guide issue No 243 (July 2011).