Founded in 1911, Benelli Motorcycles was an attempt to create a stable work place for 6 children of a Pesaro, Italian widow. Teresa Benelli invested her entire family's capital into the start of her business venture as an automotive repair garage.
Only nine years after the start of the Benelli business, due to the garage having the tools necessary to produce spare parts needed for almost any repair, the Benelli children made their first 75 cc 2 stroke one cylinder engine.
In 1921, the Benelli children then adapted their 75 cc engine to a bicycle and the start of Benelli Motorcycles began. That same year the Benelli children modified their 2 stroke engine to make it 98 cc and made their own custom frame to make the first Benelli Motorcycle.
Tonino Benelli, who was also known as Tonino the Terrible, entered into the Benelli's first competition with a 175 cc Benelli Motorcycle, in 1923. In 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1931, Tonino the Terrible went on to win four out of the five Italian championships between 1927 and 1931.
Tonino the Terrible had a crash in 1932 that ended his career, followed by a "silly" crash in 1927 that cost him his life
By 1940, Benelli Motorcycles had built a supercharged motorcycle with 250 cc which they would race in that year's Isle of Man TT, but the lingering war forced the Benelli children to compete in Italian competitions only.
The Benelli plant was destroyed during the war, but afterwards when they reopened their doors, Benelli Motorcycles realised that their designs were based on pre-war and would not fit into the post war market. For the next few years Benelli produced a couple of small motorcycles that was to compete with the likes of Vespa and other mopeds.
Benelli bought Motobi in 1962 and upgraded their production to over 300 motorcycles a day thanks to the 550 employees Benelli received with the purchase.
During the 1960's despite Benelli's ties with Montgomery Wards, an American Department store that was marketing their motorcycles, the Japanese motorcycle industry was too over powering. Benelli ended up getting bought out by china's Group Qianjiang, and the Benelli name was reformed to Benelli Q.J.. This buy out did not affect the Benelli production as the plant remained in Pesaro, Italy where Benelli still produces the Benelli Motorcycles.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 02/06/2008