Aermacci Classic Motorcycles
The bikes produced by Aermacchi
were quite successful in the postwar Italian
market, also thanks to their repeated placements
on the race tracks. The firm designed and produced
models incorporating the Italian word "Ala"
(wing) in its names, such as "Ala Verde", "Ala
Blu" and "Ala d'Oro" (respectively "green wing",
"blue wing" and "golden wing").
Former FB Mondial designer Alfredo
Bianchi joined Aermacchi during 1956, the well
known aircraft manufacturer having entered motorcycle
production in the years following the Second
World War, in order to make use of idle production
capacity in their newly reconstructed facilities.
The first machine to emerge for which Bianchi
was responsible was the Chimera, designed to
appeal to the "average" rider. Featuring
radical styling and innovative engineering it
proved to be disappointing in terms of sales.
However, the over head valve engine with which
it was equipped would prove to be amenable to
tuning. The development of a more conventional
twin shock chassis for the sporting 175 and
250cc variants of the Chimera, introduced shortly
after the touring versions, provided the other
half of the equation for the models development
into a competitive road racing machine. The
factory entered a 250 variant stripped of its
road going equipment in the 1960 Assen TT finishing
ninth in the hands of Alberto Pagani, a good
enough result to warrant further development
that would eventually see versions of the horizontal
single being raced at all levels.
Production racers were built by the factory
for sale to the public, whilst many of the road
going sports variants have been converted to
"racing specification" over the years.
In the 1960s, 50% of Aermacchi
stock was acquired by Harley-Davidson to produce
in its assembly plant at Schiranna (near Varese)
several models of small bikes (with engine displacement
between 125cc and 350cc) for the American and
the European market, in an attempt to take back
market sectors that were the time were increasingly
being taken by Japanese manufacturers such as
Honda and Yamaha. Aermacchi went on to have
success in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing
world with rider Renzo Pasolini finishing 2nd
in the 1972 250 cc Roadracing World Championship.
After 1974, when the American manufacturer acquired
complete control of the Italian company, Aermacchi
bikes re-badged as Harley-Davidsons won the
250 cc Roadracing World Championship three years
in a row in 1974, 1975 and 1976. They also won
the 350 cc World Championship in 1976. Upon
the acquisition of Harley-Davidson by AMF in
1978, the Italian operations of the firm were
sold to the Castiglioni brothers, founders of
the Cagiva motorcycle company, which continued
to produce bikes branded "HD Cagiva" until 1980.