From Cascina Costa To Schiranna
After the controversy surrounding the Iannucci affair had died down, MV Agusta was back in the news in the spring of 1992 thanks to an unexpected statement from Cagiva Motor's press office. It was officially announced that ownership of the Cascina Costa trademark would go to Castiglioni's group following lengthy negotiations with a number of interested parties in finance and industry. The only thing under negotiation was ownership of the trademark, as the machinery and motorcycles had mostly been sold, with the exception of several road and racing bikes lovingly preserved by the Agusta Retired Workers' Association (these are now on display in the museum in Cascina Costa).
Motorcycle fans greeted the news enthusiastically. The purchase of the legendary trademark by the most dynamic and determined entrepreneurs in the motorcycle industry would, surely, mean the rebirth of MV Agusta. After all, the Castiglioni family were the only businesspeople on the scene capable of reviving ailing firms and making them successful. The Castiglioni family had demonstrated their managerial talent when Cagiva rose from the ashes of the glorious Aermacchi AMF; just a few years later Cagiva saved Ducati, in dire straits, a victim of public financing strategies. Lastly, they’d moved Husqvarna production from Sweden to Schiranna, allowing the group to offer Europe’s widest motorcycle range. But while the other trademarks had involved a technical or industrial inheritance, when it came to MV Agusta the only certainty was the prestige of the glorious trademark.
Faced with a blank sheet of paper, Cagiva Motor engineers sought a way forward, starting from the assumption that an MV Agusta bike, to be true to its technical heritage, had to have a 3 or 4-cylinder in-line engine. No such configuration was used on European motorcycles, so Claudio Castiglioni was faced with the choice of either buying a Japanese engine or creating an entirely new one. He chose the latter, and started out with a project developed by Ferrari, referred to as the F4: it is a project that MV Agusta engineers are still developing to this day. The engine was designed using exclusive solutions such as a radial valve arrangement and a removable transmission, the former an offshoot of multi-cylinder Ferrari engines, the latter from Cagiva GP bikes. Industrial manufacturing of the new engine proceeded in concert with the design of the chassis set-up and styling, entrusted to the renowned Massimo Tamburini, then director of CRC (Cagiva Research Centre). Tamburini already had several years' experience "dressing" this type of engine, experience gained during his years with Bimota (which stands for Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini).
The first prototype was completed on the eve of the 1997 Trade Fair in Milan and presented to the press on 16 September of that year. On seeing the all-new MV Agusta F4, the reporters were simply stunned. Red and silver just like its forebears, with an organ-pipe exhaust system reminiscent of lost symphonies, the MV Agusta F4 was an immediate success, the ideal object of every motorcyclist’s desire. The subsequent process of industrialisation was a two-stage affair: the first saw a limited production run of 300 F4 Gold Series bikes, with carbon bodywork, magnesium parts and an engine with sand-cast crankcase. Afterwards came the manufacture of the S model, aimed at a broader customer base thanks to a price that was half that of the Gold version.
In April 1999 the F4 Gold Series was presented ‘in action’ at the Monza racetrack for the first time, putting on a show that attracted the attention of over a hundred trade publications. The bike had an impressive speed of over 280 kph, an extraordinary chassis and outstanding handling characteristics, all universally acknowledged as setting new standards. Despite a price tag of over 68 million lire (approximately 35 thousand Euros), the F4 Gold Series was snapped up by wealthy motorcycle aficionados from all over the world that included royalty, actors and sports personalities: King Juan Carlos of Spain, Emanuele Filiberto, Lapo Elkan, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Hugh Laurie, Brad Pitt, Eddy Irvine, Michael Schumacher, Gerhard Berger and all the players on the Italian football team that won the 2006 World Cup.
Manufacturing the new MV Agusta involved complete reorganisation of the production cycle, conversion of the Schiranna plant and the establishment of new engine and chassis assembly lines. The production facilities of MV Agusta were redesigned together with Porsche Consulting. To boost its market share, MV Agusta also invested in a new bike platform, creating a revolutionary 3-cylinder 675 cc engine. Introduced in 2010, this gave rise to the new mid-weight sports MV Agusta F3 675, which made its debut in 2012 and soon became one of the best-selling bikes in the 600 class. Again in 2012, the 3-cylinder 675 cc engine was used to power the new mid-weight naked, the Brutale 675. Throughout 2013 the range continued to expand with the introduction of the new 800 cc Brutale and F3; the entire 4-cylinder range was also renewed with the upgraded F4 1000 and Brutale 1090. At the end of 2013, MV Agusta began shipping the Rivale 800 to showrooms: this exclusive model won the "Best-Looking Bike of the 2012 Show" title in the year of its presentation. During 2013 the company presented the Turismo Veloce 800, the first, revolutionary tourer to be built by MV Agusta. Lastly, the first few months of 2014 saw the launch of the Brutale 800 Dragster, an uncompromising, breathtakingly styled naked – the most extreme, essential naked bike ever!