Bonhams to Sell Ex-Works MV Agusta 500 'four' at The International Classic MotorCycle Show, Stafford on 29th April 2007

Press release courtesy of Bonhams

Arguably the greatest team in Grand Prix racing history, MV Agusta won everything that was worth winning at world level from the early 1950s to the late 1960s and beyond. Machines raced by the legendary Italian works team are among the rarest and most desirable racing motorcycles ever made. All surviving examples are held either in museums or private collections and only extremely rarely is one ever offered for public sale. Thus Bonhams is delighted to be able to offer this machine - frame number '1104', engine number '4' - an example of the famous four-cylinder 'fire engines' that brought MV Agusta 139 victories and 16 World Championships in Grand Prix racing's premier 500cc class, together with a further 76 wins and 9 Championships in the 350cc category.

When the contents of the MV race shop were sold off, following a lengthy period in storage, only two machines of the pre-1965 period were assembled and complete, the remainder being dismantled. The principal purchasers of MV's heritage were Robert Iannucci in the USA, Ubaldo Elli in Italy and John Surtees in the UK. This genuine, ex-works machine, purchased directly from John Surtees by the current owner, accords with the specification employed by the MV Agusta factory team between 1957 and 1960, while the short-stroke engine is of the type used between 1954 and 1961. Between 1957 and 1960, MV Agusta's works 500s were raced by stars such as John Surtees, Umberto Massetti, Carlo Bandirola, John Hartle, Gary Hocking and Remo Venturi among others, during which time Surtees won the Isle of Man Senior TT three times and the 500cc World Championship three years consecutively from 1958 to 1960. While the race record of its principal components is unknown, it is to this heroic period that this machine belongs.

Since 1996 when it was acquired by the vendor, '1104' has been fastidiously maintained (there is simply no other option when caring for an ex-works MV Agusta) and enthusiastically exercised on a regular basis. Events/venues attended include the Isle of Man TT Parade, Brooklands, Scarborough, Montlhery, Vallelunga, Goodwood Festival of Speed and Revival Meetings, Ulster Grand Prix, Beezumph Rally, Donington Park, Mallory Park and Dijon. Riders have included Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read and Mick Grant. The machine was last ridden in June 2006 and is presented in 'ready-to-use' condition.

Estimate 160,000 - 180,000