Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

Get out of the box. Perhaps this maxim was what always pushed Giancarlo Morbidelli in search of achieving his personal and professional achievements, as he constantly demonstrated throughout his exciting life. Capable of founding several companies in different fields, he would do the same within the world of two wheels, especially in relation to competition.

All of this would not have been possible without that halo of passion so characteristic of the Italian idiosyncrasy, and essential to carry out projects like the one carried out by the legendary transalpine businessman. Until 6 titles in the Motorcycle World Championship highlights the work of Giancarlo Morbidelli throughout the 70s and early 80s.

The beginnings of Morbidelli

You have to go back to 1959 to be able to put the history of Morbidelli and everything that came after. It was in 1959 when Giancarlo founded his first company, related to the repair and manufacture of woodworking machines in Pesaro, Italy. At just 25 years of age, Morbidelli was making his debut as a businessman, but perhaps not in the way he would have wanted.

His passion was two wheels and especially racing. Morbidelli had been participating intermittently in some local competitions for several years, so he decided to create his own motorcycle workshop attached to the lumber business. He himself improved the chassis and engines of the motorcycles with which he later participated in races.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

It is in 1968 when Morbidelli decides to dedicate more time and resources to his great passion, entering the Italian Junior Championship with a Benelli and a Motobi. A year later, the first GP mount developed by himself and Franco Ringhini, pilot and designer, was born.

This came equipped with a 50 cc engine, liquid cooling and rotary valve. With it they would achieve a victory in the Yugoslav GP and sixth place in the race held in the former East Germany. This would be the beginning of a golden era for Giancarlo's team, which would last until the beginning of the 80s.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

For 1970, Ringhini would develop a new 125 cc frame ready to compete in the 1971 Motorcycle World Championship. They would also shape a 350 cc four-cylinder. A year later, the Italian driver Gilberto Parlotti would achieve two victories with the eighth liter, in the East German Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix. Parlotti would sadly pass away when he was competing in the Isle of Man TT riding that same bike.

In 1973, Franco Ringhini decided to leave Morbidelli and instead the team hires Jorg Möller. This was the architect of the design of the new 125 cc with which, in 1975, Paolo Pileri would win the first world championship for the brand. Paolo Bianchihis teammate, would achieve runner-up that same year and the champion title in 1976 and 1977.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

In this last season, in parallel, Mario Lega He would do the same in the 250 cc category, achieving the fourth world crown for the brand in just three seasons. A really important milestone considering the resources it had Morbidelli within the demanding competition.

Starting that same year, in association with Benelli Armi in Pesaro, they founded MBA (Morbidelli-Benelli-Armi), with the intention of producing competition motorcycles to later sell them to other teams in the championship.

Furthermore, this fruitful business relationship resulted in the obtaining of two other world titles within the 125 cc category, with the pilots Eugenio Lazzarini and Pier Paolo Bianchi at the controls, in the 1978 and 1980 seasons respectively.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

By 1982, with 6 world titles in his pocket, Morbidelli He leaves the two-wheeled competition, shortly after debuting in the premier category with such a Graziano Rossi as a pilot. Giancarlo wanted to focus on other projects, such as supporting the sporting debut of his son, Gianni Morbidelli, in touring car racing, even driving an F1.

Return of Morbidelli… In a big way

In 1990, Giancarlo Morbidelli He sold the assets of his main company and founded a new brand with which he intended to manufacture street motorcycles in series. But not just any motorcycle. Rather, the one that would later be certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the most expensive frame in history.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

We talk about the Morbidelli V8equipped with a block in V at 90º with 32 valve cylinder head and officially presented at the EICMA in 1994. The exterior design, in case anyone is wondering, is the work of Pininfarina and as more than one must already be imagining, it was not exactly what most excited the surprised audience at the Milanese event.

Although it was equipped with a good compendium of elements in its chassis (steel chassis, Brembo Goldline brakes and fully adjustable GCB suspension), both its controversial design, by the way, was quite similar to that of the later Bimota Mantralike its very high starting price, around $45,000 at the time, meant that the project was relegated to the background.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

In 1996, the general design of the first prototype was reworked again, with the help of Bimota, including an inverted Paioli fork and a multitude of tweaks that somehow sought to harmonize the initial lines.

The problem is that precisely, one year later, the Morbidelli V8 they tried to market it for a whopping $160,000becoming the most expensive production motorcycle in history.

After more than 2.7 million euros of investment in the project, by 1999 only three copies of the model, in addition to the initial prototype. As well explained Jason Cormier on OddBike:

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

“It became clear that getting a return on their huge investment was going to be nearly impossible, even if they could find a handful of buyers willing to pay six figures for a motorcycle.”

Those three manufactured examples remained in the hands of Giancarlo Morbidelli, the Barber Motorsports Museum and private collector Robert D. Arnott. The latter was later exhibited at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles.

Last years of Morbidelli and his legacy

The story of Morbidelli It was kept safe in the museum inaugurated in the old Pesaro facilities in 1999. There the 350 motorcycles and historical and racing items from the legendary Italian brand that Giancarlo had collected throughout his life.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

Years later there was talk of a new project Morbidelli this time on a saddle 750cc V12 developed on the cycle part of a CBR600 from the mid-2000s. Some images of the project were even circulated with a wooden model as the protagonist, and in it installed the V12 at 60º that was supposed to power it, although in the end everything was left in a mere exercise in style.

In 2014, a documentary called “Morbidelli: a story of men and fast motorcycles” was released, in which the life of the Italian businessman and his exciting journey through the world of two wheels and especially in relation to the competition.

Morbidelli, the fight to achieve a dream

Five years later, Giancarlo's heirs announced that the family museum was closing permanently, citing the impossibility of continuing to maintain its high maintenance costs. That same year, a good part of the collection would be sent to the United Kingdom to end up being auctioned.

Finally, in February 2020, we said goodbye forever to Giancarlo Morbidelli, after several years of fighting Alzheimer's. Behind him, an immense legacy and love for motorcycles and competition, but above all a life full of dreams in which Morbidelli fought for his dream until he achieved it.

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