Benelli Vintage

The Benelli story begins in Pesaro with the widow Teresa Benelli establishing a garage, using all of her family’s limited capital, in order to build a business to support her six sons. The garage repaired cars and motorcycles and soon went on to make spare parts.

The small business grew, and in 1920 the first Benelli engine was produced, a 75cc two-stroke. The following year they built a Benelli motorcycle, now powered by a 98cc powerplant.

By 1923 their OHC motorcycles were on the racetrack with Antonio Benelli in the saddle, and by 1931 he had won four Italian championships. His stellar career ended with a bad crash in 1932. The bikes continued to take their riders to the front, and in 1939 the TT was won by Ted Mellors on a Benelli.

World War Two saw the total destruction of the Benelli factory in Pesaro.
The business began rebuilding after the war, but there was discord between the brothers and Guiseppe left to form his own company, Motobi.

By 1962, the two factories employed 550 people and between them were producing some 300 motorcycles a day, but by the end of the decade the Japanese onslaught was taking its toll and despite the creative skills of the new owner, Argentinian Alejondro de Tomaso (who also owned Moto Guzzi and was building some very attractive sports cars), the factory was forced to cease production. In 1980 Pesaro-based businessman Giancarlo Selci came to the rescue but the deal did not work out and Benelli slipped into obscurity until, in 1995, Andrea Merloni (whose family own Indesit, makers of whitegoods) came onto the scene. By 2002 the Tornado 900 had burst onto the world’s stage, followed by the TNT Roadster of 2005.

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