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The Ferrari of Motorcycles: New-Ray MV Agusta F4

You will be forgiven if you think that the two-wheeled equivalent of a Ferrari sports car is a Ducati superbike simply because they’re both made in Italy, they’re both red, and they’re both fast. But the truth is Ducati is more related to Lamborghini because both Italian super brands are owned by the Volkswagen Group of Companies. Therefore, the real equivalent of a Ferrari super car is NOT a Ducati but another Italian super bike.

1948 MV Agusta 125 Corsa Special

Meccanica Verghera Agusta Motor S.p.A. is a motorcycle manufacturing company founded by Count Domenico Agusta on January 19, 1945 in Cascina Costa near Milan, Italy. MV Agusta was created to diversify the products of the parent aircraft company, which was started by the family patriarch, Count Giovanni Agusta.  Meccanica Verghera is Italian for “mechanics of Verghera”, the hamlet in the aircraft company where the first MV Agusta motorcycles were made.

Count Domenico Agusta (in suit) enjoying the company of his riding team in the 1950s.

The Agusta brothers had a passion for mechanical parts and for motorcycle racing. Much like Enzo Ferrari, they produced and sold motorcycles almost exclusively to fund their racing efforts. They were determined to have the best Grand Prix motorcycle racing team in the world and spared no expense on their passion. After producing their “98” prototype in 1945, the company built a 125 cc two-stroke single, entered and promptly won the 1948 Italian Grand Prix. The skillful riding abilities of legendary  motorcycle racer Giacomo Agostini in the Grand Prix races placed the Number 1 plate on MV Agusta race bikes but the lack of funds kept the brand from becoming Number 1 among the super bike buyers.

Like Ferrari, the ownership of MV Agusta passed from the founder to a larger and more financially-stable Italian company. In 1998, the company built a 4-cylinder sport bike, the MV Agusta F4, which launched the resurrection of the brand that year. The F4 was created by motorcycle designer Massimo Tamburini at CRC (Cagiva Research Center), following his work on the Ducati 916. The F4 has a single-sided swing arm rear suspension, large 50 mm front forks, and was finished in the traditional MV Agusta red-and-silver racing livery.

The F4 is powered by a 749.5 cc liquid-cooled inline 4-cylinder engine topped by a cylinder head with hemi-spherical chamber design (Hemi), double overhead camshafts (DOHC), four radial valves per cylinder (Valvole Radiali), electronic multipoint fuel injection (MPI), and capacitive induction discharge (CDI) electronic ignition. The engine, which makes 126 bhp at 12,500 rpm, was derived from the 1990-1992 Ferrari Formula One engine. This and the other facts above associates MV Agusta closer to Ferrari than Ducati.

Massimo Tamburini (in suit) and the MV Agusta F4 that he designed.

We were fortunate enough to be able to “borrow” an MV Agusta F4 for our MotorCycle Magazine display booth during our first MotoFiesta major event back in 2007. Needless to say, our celebrity guests posed with their fans in front of the Italian super bike. The MV Agusta attracted visitors to our booth like a Corsa Rossa Ferrari captures attention in a public parking lot.

Actress and MotorCycle Magazine cover girl Jennifer Lee pose with the author’s cousin, Rodel Dizon, on the F4.

After our MotoFiesta event, we found it hard to return our borrowed MV Agusta but we cannot afford the more-than-a-million-pesos that the owner wanted for it. So, we went for the next best thing – a New-Ray 1:12 scale model. Our small MV Agusta was finished in the same red-and-silver racing livery as the actual bike but we noticed that the front fairing was a bit canted upwards and not as sharp-looking as the one mounted on the real super bike.

With a little patience, we can correct the minor imperfections we found with our model bike’s fit-and-finish but the incorrect angle of the front fairing would be a more daunting fix. The incorrect angle of the upper part of the fairing makes our little F4 look less aggressive and more sport tourer than super bike. No matter, we cannot ride this Italian beauty and show it off in a motorcycle show anyway. But we’re still happy that we have the “Ferrari of motorcycles” in our collection without needing to empty our modest bank account, had we opted to acquire a real MV Agusta F4. Grazie a Dio per i piccoli favori!

To see the stories of scale model vehicles that we have posted here in the Power Wheels website, please click “The Rack” button on the header bar near the top right of your screen (if you’re using a PC, laptop or tablet), or type “The Rack” on the Search bar if you’re using a mobile phone. Our two super bike stories this weekend whetted our appetite for super cars, which we will feature tomorrow. Ciao!