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MV is back!



MV is part of the Cagiva Group (along with Husqvarna motorcycles), controlled by Claudio Castiglioni, the man who helped bring Ducati from the brink of extinction before selling off his interests to Texas Pacific Group. Castiglioni had nearly cemented a deal with scooter manufacturer Piaggio that would have brought in some much needed capital, but the merger fell apart last year, sending Cagiva, MV and Husky into a tailspin.

Castiglioni signed a deal with Banca Intesa earlier this year (which held most of the company's considerable debt, thought to be in the neighborhood of $75 million) that infuses the company with nearly $25 million and freezes existing debts for up to two years, giving the company time to resume production of back-ordered bikes. Court-appointed officials will oversee operations for the next three years.

The target for this year is to produce 24,000 motorcycles divided between the three brands. Castiglioni says that this figure won’t be difficult to achieve due to the introduction of new models for each of the three brands. Production of 2-stroke Huskys began in January, followed by the much-heralded twin-cam 4-strokes that had been delayed. A total of 15,000 Huskys are scheduled to cross the production lines this year.

Production of the long-awaited MV Agusta Brutale is finally underway, and the factory is scheduled to deliver 1700 of the streetfighters. At the same time, the 148-hp MV F4 SPR and the exclusive MV F4 Ago commemorative models are being built. It is expected that 3800 MVs will roll off assembly lines by the end of the year. In addition, Castiglioni expects to sell nearly 5000 Cagiva Raptors and Navigators, both powered by versions of Suzuki's 650cc and 1000cc V-Twins.

I'll save you the math and tell you that adds up to 24,000 units total for the Cagiva Group, which will be outstanding if the relatively small Italian workforce can pull it off. Castiglioni has said the company has firm orders for the bikes and that they are effectively pre-sold. Castiglioni also expects 2004 production to "increase substantially" with the company's plan to hire more workers.

This year is important for the Cagiva Group in more ways than just the resumption of production. It is also the 100th anniversary of Husqvarna and the 25th anniversary of Cagiva. As such, Husky will produce 1000 "Centenario" enduro models that will be tricked out with magnesium engine cases and carbon fiber bodywork. Engineered by Ducati Monster designer Miguel Galluzzi, the Centenarios will be fitted with Husky's 510cc 4-stroke engine and should be available in September.

Even more radical are the plans for Cagiva's 25th birthday. Castiglioni has said Cagiva will construct 25 exact replicas its last 500cc Grand Prix bike! To be built by the same workers who built the bike in 1994, they will be identical in every way to the bikes that John Kocinski and Doug Chandler raced, the former coming in third in that year's world championship. It was the only European bike to ever beat Japanese bikes in 500cc GP competition, and production is expected to begin in September for those with really deep pockets.

Also, look for the MV F4 "Mille" to debut at the Milan show this fall. Powered by a 1000cc (hence the name, Italian for one thousand) four-cylinder engine, the new MV is scheduled to enter production in late-2003. Castiglioni has said the Mille won't look much different than the 750cc version, but it will crank out 180 crankshaft horsepower in street-legal trim, revving to nearly 14,000 rpm!



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