The ‘sixties saw the consecration of the family car, but at the same time the motorcycle market slowed down. MV Agusta reacted to this change in consumer spending in a true enterprising spirit, offering the market new models to attract motorcycle lovers. Of these, the one destined to go down in history was the 600 four cylinder, the first maxi motorbike on the market, with a four-cylinder engine. The engine, derived from Mike Hailwood’s 500 GP, gradually developed into the high performance 750 S America, capable of speeds of 220 Km/h.
The same year saw the introduction of the 125 Disco, named for the rotating disk distribution of its two stroke engine. The late ‘sixties marked the start of the Agostini era, with the three and four cylinder 350 and 500 models remaining popular from 1967 to 1973. The two models were produced first with three-cylinder engines and then with four-cylinder engines to battle the advent of the Japanese two-stroke engines.
After Count Domenico’s death in the early ‘seventies, the company was faced with a number of economic difficulties. This period was characterised by a battle between two opposing trends in the company’s administration: one aimed at pursuing investment in racing, the other at cutting it in order to balance the books. The middle road prevailed, resulting in limited development of the racing team and impoverishment of the number of models offered, down to only two: the 350 and the 750. The former was offered in three set-ups: “Scrambler”, “GTEL” and “SEL”, while the 750 was available in Sport and Gran Turismo versions. In competition MV managed yet again to stave off the pressure from the Yamaha two strokes and the Suzukis of Saarinen and Barry Sheene. The artifices of this resistance to the Japanese invasion were the tough Phil Read, with two wins in the 1975 season, and of course Giacomo Agostini. Agostini returned from a spell with Yamaha to ride Cascina Costa machines and claim the last MV Agusta victory on the Nurburgring track on August 29, 1976.
The company’s precarious economic position forced MV Agusta management to seek out a new financial partner. They found the answer in the public financing giant EFIM (Ente Partecipazioni e Finanziamento Industria Manifatturiera), which demanded that MV Agusta get out of the motorcycle sector as a condition for righting its finances. The difficult decision to abandon motorcycles resulted in the abandonment of a new generation of large twin cam16-valve engines (750 and 850 cc) which were to have been launched at the Milan Motorcycle Trade Fair in 1977. The company had already reserved its stand at the fair, but failed to show up, though it did continue selling bikes until 1980, when the last bike in the Cascina Costa warehouses was sold. The name MV Agusta was back in the news in July 1986 when the trade press published an advertisement for the sale of racing bikes, prototypes, bodies and engines from the company’s legendary racing division.
The news raised such clamour that the leading journalists of the day demanded government intervention to protect this part of the nation’s cultural heritage. But unfortunately the great historical and technical value of these unbeatable racing machines was not enough to attract the interest of the Ministry of Industry and State Holdings, so that the entire lot of motorbikes and parts went to Italo-American Roberto Iannucci for about one and a half billion Lire (approximately 750 thousand euros). And thus the industrial chapter of MV Agusta of Cascina Costa closed, in an atmosphere of controversy and nostalgia for the glorious past.