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Obituary: Arturo Magni, 1925-2015

Published: 02 December 2015

Updated: 02 December 2015

MCN is sad to report the passing of Arturo Magni (24.09.1925 – 02.12.2015). Born in Usmate Velate (Milan), the legendary engineer and race manager started his motorcycle career in the 1947, when the Gilera factory decided to come back into 500cc GP racing. Magni was brought in to assemble the new four-cylinder engine designed by Pietro Remor, an engine that went on to earn Gilera six 500 world titles, with some of the most famous riders in motorcycle history.

In 1949 Count Domenico Agusta entrusted Remor to design the first MV Agusta four-cylinder race engine and Magni joined him in 1950 as chief mechanic.

He later went on to manage the racing department, under the ever watchful glare of Count Agusta; working with such greats as Giacomo Agostini, Carlo Ubbiali, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Tarquinio Provini, Cecil Sandford, and Gary Hocking. Under Magni’s management MV Reparto Corsa won every 500 World Championship from 1958 to 1974, as well as ten 350 championships.

He continued to work for MV Agusta right up until 1976, when the firm won their last world championship, before they walked away from GP racing. In 1977 Magni set up his eponymously named Elaborazioni Preparazioni Magni firm with his two sons in Samarate, Northern Italy ­– just 20 miles from the MV factory. The new firm started out making specialist parts for shaft-drive four-cylinder MV Agusta 750 street bikes, such as chain-drive conversions, big bore kits, and frame kits. Then, in 1980, production of Magni motorcycles started, initially using Honda’s CB900F engines, with bikes dubbed the MH1 and MH2, then expanding to include the BMW R100 boxer twin (for the MB1 and MB2), Moto Guzzi’s V-twin, and finally in 1999 with the 4-cylinder Suzuki Bandit 1200 engine.

“I think I am an extremely lucky man,” said Arturo Magni, speaking in 2005. “I spent more than a quarter of a century working on the most exclusive and successful racing motorcycles all over the world. And then I had the privilege, thanks to my sons, to begin a new career as a specialist streetbike manufacturer. The restoration work that our firm regularly carries out on MVs and other vintage bikes keeps me in touch with the past. On the other hand, Magni looks ahead to the future too, with a succession of new road models incorporating the latest technology and latest components. Many customers become good friends, and it makes me feel as in a big family that grows every time we complete another bike.'

Production of the Magni 1200S finished in around 2001, while Giovanni Magni still builds one-off commissions, the most recent being a Triumph Rocket III engined behemoth, and still produces specialist parts.

Arturo Magni will be laid to rest on December 4, with a service at the SS Peter & Paul parish church in Samarate.

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