Thursday, February 25, 2010

Aermacchi Motorcycles

Aeronautica Macchi continued to produce small-displacement motorcycles at their new facility in Schiranna, Varese VA, Italy, throughout the 1950s. In 1960, the company name was shortened to 'Aermacchi' ('Aer-Macchi').

Aermacchi Chimera 250
1960 Aermacchi Chimera 250 Scooter

Paying homage to its aviation roots, Aermacchi appropriately named its motorcycles using the prefix of 'Ala,' or "wing" in the 'Ala Blu' (Blue Wing), 'Ala d'Oro' (Gold Wing), and 'Ala Verde' (Green Wing) models. During this period, Aermacchi gained a reputation on the GP circuit.

The Aermacchi / Harley-Davidson Connection

During the late 1950s, Harley Davidson was aggressively attempting to diversify its portfolio by building Harley 2-Stroke scooters, and in 1960 the American company purchased a 49% stake in Aermacchi for $260,000 US.
The first Aermacchi/HD collaboration produced the 250cc Sprint H and ERS Sprint (CR/CRTT), which used an Aermacchi 'undersquare' (long-rod) 4-stroke engine, or an 'oversquare' (short-rod) 2-stroke engine.

Aermacchi HD SS350
1974 Aermacchi AMF Harley Davidson SS-350 Sprint

In the late 1960s, Harley Davidson gained full control of Aermacchi Motorcycles, and one of the few successes of the collaboration produced the Aermacchi SS350 (photo below).
Harley Davidson was itself acquired by AMF (American Machine and Foundry Co.) in 1969, and under the direction of AMF, Aermacchi continued to produce slow-selling models such as the 65cc AMF Harley-Davidson Leggero 'Mini Cycle' (photo below).

1971 AMF Harley-Davidson Leggero Two-Stroke
1971 AMF Harley-Davidson Leggero 'Mini Cycle' 65cc Two-Stroke

The small-displacement Aermacchis were not well accepted by the Harley-Davidson demographic, and sales continued to decline throughout the early 1970s. In 1974, Aermacchi production was discontinued, and the company was later sold to the Castiglioni brothers of Cagiva. Aermacchi continued to produce motorcycles under the name 'HD Cagiva' until they suspended operations in 1980.

No comments:

Post a Comment