Ciao, Claudio Castiglioni | Euro Notes

Italian motorcycle industry savior passes at age 64

More than anyone else, Claudio Castiglioni was responsible for rescuing the Italian motorcycle industry from oblivion in the early ’80s. Without his driving passion for performance, and his dedication to innovative engineering and exquisite Italian design, the motorcycle industry would look very different today. Ducati might be making diesel engines instead of superbikes, and Husqvarna might be building chainsaws and sewing machines rather than championship-winning off-road racers. MV Agusta would only exist in history books, and Cagiva would never have existed at all—much less won Grands Prix and ended BMW’s domination of the Paris-Dakar Rally. Without Claudio Castiglioni, motorcycling would be a less diverse—and much less beautiful—sport.

Castiglioni was an engaging, charismatic person who inspired great loyalty and gave the same back in return. His unyielding insistence on producing bikes that were superlative examples of Italian design and engineering occasionally made working for him hard, but also very rewarding. He reviewed even the smallest design details, putting his soul into every bike. It’s impossible to see a Ducati 916 or MV Agusta F4 without thinking of Castiglioni. Without his influence, those benchmark bikes wouldn’t exist.

MV Agusta will continue operations in Varese under the direction of Giovanni Castiglioni, Claudio’s son. It will undoubtedly be difficult to continue without their charismatic leader, but Castiglioni left MV Agusta on solid ground. The company is now debt-free with a strong, diverse product line that includes the wildly anticipated, three-cylinder 675cc F3 supersport machine expected to reach market next year. Claudio Castiglioni’s legacy will live long after his too-soon departure from this earth.

Claudio Castiglioni acquired the rights to the MV Agusta name in 1991, and relaunched the brand in ’97. He left us this past August after a bout with lung cancer.