Of all the Italian motorcycles , including Guzzi , Ducati , Gilera , Laverda , Benelli , and Cagiva , one stands out for a variety of reasons . It is of course MV Agusta . It is a long time since this exotic Italian was featured in this column , but perhaps it is time to take another look at it . When MV Agusta withdrew from Grand Prix racing in 1976 the company had amassed 75 World Championships , riders and manufacturer ’ s titles , 270 Grand Prix victories and 3,027 international race wins . During the 1950s and 60s the riders who helped build this astounding record sound like a who ’ s who of racing through to the 1970s ; Les Graham , Carlo Ubbiali , Tarquinio Provini , John Surtees , Mike Hailwood , Gary Hocking , Giacomo Agostini , and Phil Read . MV Agusta was founded by Count Domenico Agusta , who died prematurely in 1971 . Many believe his passing was

Hugh Anderson at Pukekohe in 1999
the beginning of a slow decline for the company ’ s motorcycle racing programme . The aeronautical division , which was essential for the financial support of the Count ’ s expensive hobby , was also facing a period of austerity . It was the Italian Government that eventually took over , and forced the company to concentrate on aviation . Motorcycle production ceased in 1978 , but was reborn in 1998 . The glory days of Grand Prix racing remain , however , a distant , but never to be forgotten memory . So great was the MV race record that much of the road going machinery produced by the factory was overlooked .
John Surtees rode MVs in World Championships between 1956 and 1960