JENAL - Benelli ~ A Potted History of Classic Benelli

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 also won.

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 1965, they 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 motorcycles. In 1976 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 manufacture.
By 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 trouble. De Tomaso was linked with the Ford Motor Company and a noted automotive designer.  He brought his considerable design talents to bear on the Benelli Sei (Italian for six) range amongst others.

If 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� Sei's etc.)

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).

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