AERMACCHI, HARLEY DAVIDSON and AMF
Text: Luís Cardoso
1962, AERMACCHI - HARLEY DAVIDSON Ala Verde 250cc 4T
AERMACCHI (Società Anonima Nieuport-Macchi) was founded in 1913 by Giulio Macchi with the purpose of producing, under licence, the French fighter plane NIEUPORT 11.
The end of World War I implied a drop in military orders and the company, at the beginning of the 20s of the last century, was renamed Aeronautica Macchi, specializing in the construction of seaplanes, also notable for obtaining absolute speed world records during the 1930s.
With the outbreak of World War II, its production turned again to military aviation.
From the beginning of the 60's, the company, meanwhile renamed AERMACCHI, began the production of two-seater military training aircraft.
Through consortia and mergers, it managed to survive until today as a producer of light civil and military training aircraft, under the name Alenia Aermacchi and, after 2017, when it merged with Finmeccanica, it was renamed LEONARDO.
1959, AERMACCHI Chimera 175cc 4T
Between the 50s and 70s, AERMACCHI also produced motorcycles, essentially, at first, 4T single cylinders of 250cc and 350cc.
In April 1960 the motorcycle factory moved from Varèse to Schiranna and came under the control of the North American HARLEY DAVIDSON.
The motorcycles produced from then on were named AERMACCHI - HARLEY DAVIDSON and later AMF HARLEY DAVIDSON, at this time they began to produce models equipped with 2T engines.
1973, AMF-HARLEY DAVIDSON R/C 125cc 2T
The reason for this last designation was the fact that in 1969 the AMF (American Machine and Foundry) took over the production of the HARLEY DAVIDSON, a position it maintained for a dozen years and which was essential, at the time, to save the iconic North American brand.
1971, AERMACCHI - HARLEY DAVIDSON TV350 350cc 4T
In 1978, after declaring bankruptcy, the entire industrial operation is sold to the Castiglioni brothers and will serve as the basis for the founding of their own brand, CAGIVA.
Today, the trademark rights still belong to the same industrial group, which is now led by the MV AGUSTA brand.
The adventure of competition at the World level began in 1965 and registers a remarkable progression:
1965 - Renzo Pasolini finishes 8th in the 350cc class;
1966 - Renzo Pasolini finishes 3rd and Alberto Pagani 6th in the 350cc class;
1967 - Alberto Pagani finishes 6th and Kel Carruthers 7th in the 350cc class;
1968 - Kel Carruthers finishes 3rd in the 350cc class;
1969 - Kel Carruthers finishes 7th in 350cc and 10th in 125cc;
1970 - Angelo Bergamonti, who for the last two races of the season drove an MV AGUSTA, finishes 3rd in the 500cc class, Alan Barnett finishes 9th in the 350cc class and John Dodds finishes 8th in the 125cc class, giving the brand its first GP victory;
1972 - Renzo Pasolini finishes 3rd in 350cc and is 2nd (runner-up) in 250cc, Michel Rougerie is 8th in 125cc;
1973 - for the reasons mentioned above, the bikes are now registered as HARLEY DAVIDSON, Michel Rougerie finishes 5th in the 250cc class;
The glory years!
1974 - Michel Rougerie finishes 7th in 350cc and 9th in 250cc, Walter Villa becomes 250cc World Champion, the first World title for this brand;
1975 - Walter Villa, only participating in a race in this class, finishes 37th in the 350cc class, becoming once again World Champion in the 250cc class, Michel Rougerie finishes 2nd in the 250cc class, thus achieving a double for the brand;
1976 - Walter Villa becomes World Champion in 250cc and 350cc, a feat only achieved before by Jim Redman and Mike Hailwood, Franco Bonera is 3rd in 250cc;
1977 - Franco Uncini is runner-up and Walter Villa finishes 3rd, both in the 250cc class.