The history of the founding of Benelli Company looks quite unusual in comparison with the stories of the creation of most other automobile and motorcycle enterprises. It is strange even because a woman held her hands to the success of Benelli.
|Information about the company Benelli
Antonio “Tonino” Benelli
Living with her family in the small town of Pesaro, the population of which does not exceed 100,000 people even today, Teresa Benelli founded her own company to provide work for her six sons, two of whom had already come of age at that time.
For the first five years, this business allowed the family to get by but did not bring a significant profit. At that time, the company specialized in repairing cars and bicycles. However, force majeure circumstances positively influenced the development of the company.
In 1916 there was a compelling earthquake in Italy, which ‘scattered’ the city of Pesaro quite a lot. The tears of the Benelli family knew no bounds, for nature was not merciful to their modest workshop. But the sons of Theresa, the youngest of whom was already 15 years old at that time, built a new building in which they set up the production of a small motor for bicycles with a volume of 75 cubic centimeters.
Since then, vehicle repairs have become only a temporary means of the family’s existence. The elder brothers focused on developing more serious engines and then decided to install them on bicycles independently. This is how the first Benelli motorcycle was created in 1921, which was equipped with a 98-cc two-stroke power unit.
In those years, the best advertising of the company which was engaged in the development of motorcycles and cars was a successful participation in racing competitions. Benelli brothers realized it in time, and they took advantage of the inclination of the youngest brother Tonino to motorcycle races with great pleasure. He brought several significant victories to the first bikes of the company, and the recognition of the developments of the newly created enterprise increased several times.
In 1927, a 175-cc 4-stroke motorcycle was released. Soon it received two modifications: by 1928 it was produced with engines with a volume of only in 175, but also in 250 and 500 cubic centimeters. These bikes turned out to be so lucky that they all became one of the best-selling motorcycles on the Italian market at once. And Benelli Company itself became one of the leaders of the Italian motorcycle production.
Besides their perfect arrangement, Benelli motorcycles differed from many other bikes of those times in their design. This allowed the company not only to conquer motorists from all corners of Italy but also to win competitions. Tonino Benelli became one of the brightest motorcycle racers of the 1920s and 1930s. However, the most significant success came to the team in 1938, when all three prizes of the Italian Grand Prix in the class of 250 cubic centimeters were taken by Benelli motorcycles.
The Second World War spoiled the dynamics of the enterprise, the plant of which was bombed by the Allies, quite a lot. But right after the end of the war, in 1947, Benelli brothers who had made a good fortune by that time were able to rebuild it and resume their work on motorcycles.
In 1950, a new sports victory came – Dario Ambrosini won the World Championship on a modified motorcycle in 1938, becoming the winner of all the races except one. However, the tragic death of this phenomenal rider in 1951 forced Benelli Company to refuse to participate in motorcycle races.
Having developed several road bikes, which were impressive enough, in the 1950s the company, reminded the numerous fans of Benelli production techniques about itself again. And at the beginning of the next decade, the company’s long-awaited return to motorcycle sport took place. Equipped with a 250-cc four-cylinder unit, the Benelli motorcycle immediately became a serious competitor to the monsters of the Japanese Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha motorcycle industry, which already managed to hit even the European market by that time. And in 1969 Australian racer Kel Carruthers won the championship in the class of 250 cubic centimeters. Note that the Benelli motorcycle of the winner was equipped with an 8-speed gearbox, a 16-valve cylinder and a 64-horsepower engine that developed 14,500 rpm.
In 1971, an entrepreneur Alejandro De Tomaso, also known for his work with Maserati and the founding of his automotive firm De Tomaso, acquired one of Italy’s most successful motorcycle companies – Benelli. He slightly changed the accents on which the enterprise worked, and decided to focus on mass production of mopeds and scooters.
However, the development of ‘strong’ bikes was not completely ceased. In 1972, Benelli Sei motorcycle was released, which became the first road bike with a 6-cylinder engine in the history of motorcycle production. By the way, the power unit of this model had a volume of 750 cubic centimeters. And ten years later the motorcycle was successfully modified: the version of the early 80’s was equipped with a great motor with a volume of 900 cc.
Despite the presence of new successful models, the middle of the 80’s was marked by the decline of the enterprise, and in 1989 its owner changed again. The new owner of Benelli Company was Giancarlo Selci, under whom the company began to produce exceptionally light 50-cc mopeds. However, this production existed only for the sake of receiving state benefits. The primary activity of the company was the development of machines for woodwork.
The situation changed in 1997 when Andrea Merloni bought the company. With him, it began production of scooters, and in 1999 the first motorcycle for the last fifteen years was presented. It was a sports model, Tornado 900, which, however, was too far from what fans of the motorcycle company had hoped for with a nearly 90-year history. Soon Benelli TNT 1130 motorcycle debuted, but it was also unsuccessful.
In 2005, the production of motorcycles was shut down, but not for long. The Korean concern Qianjiang, which started working on motorcycle equipment in 1985, acquired Benelli, and soon the capacities were practically restored. To date, this corporation produces about one and a half million motorcycles and two million engines a year, and Benelli manufactures a considerable proportion of them.
If we believe the assumptions of experts, Benelli will meet its centenary as one of the leaders in the world motorcycle production.