1950 BENELLI 250CC GRAND PRIX RACING MOTORCYCLE (LOT 678) SOLD by Auction
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|This motorcycle is to be auctioned at our Live and Online Summer Sale, Hanger 113, Bicester Heritage, OX26 5HA. |
Friday 14 August Spares & Memorabilia (Lot 1 - 212) 10am
Saturday 15 August Motorcycles (Lot 301 - 462) 10am
Sunday 16 August Motorcycles (Morbidelli Collection) (Lot 501 - 704) 10am
In light of the current government guidelines and relaxed measures we are delighted to welcome viewing, strictly by appointment. All the lots will be on view at Bicester Heritage in our traditional Hangar 113. We will ensure social distancing measures are in place, with gloves and sanitiser available for clients wishing to view motorcycle history files.
Please contact Bonhams Motorcycles with your preferred date, time and vehicle registration number to book an appointment.
Wednesday 12 August 1pm to 5pm
Thursday 13 August 9am to 5pm
Friday 14 August 9am to 5pm
Saturday 15 August 9am to 5pm (Lots 501-704 only)
LIVE AND ONLINE AUCTION
Please note that whilst public viewing is available by appointment, the auction itself will be conducted from a remote saleroom, behind closed doors without public access, in accordance with the current government guidelines. All bidding will be conducted via Online, Telephone and Absentee Bidding. Please contact our Bids Department to register.
THE EX-DARIO AMBROSINI, WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AND ISLE OF MAN TT-WINNING
1950 BENELLI 250CC GRAND PRIX RACING MOTORCYCLE (LOT 678)
FRAME NO. S.S5001
• Works machine
• Purchased in the late 1980s from Norman Webb
• Restored in the Morbidelli Museum's workshop
• Comprehensive history file
Italy's oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturer, Benelli was founded in Pesaro in 1911 by the six Benelli brothers, starting out as a general engineering firm repairing cars and motorcycles before turning to the manufacture of automotive and aircraft components in WWI. The firm diversified into the field of powered transport immediately after WWI, offering a two-stroke 'clip-on' power unit for attachment to a bicycle, and it was this 98cc engine, installed in a purpose-built set of cycle parts, that was used for the first proper Benelli motorcycle of 1921.
A couple of years later Benelli had a 125cc model in the range, and it was one of these, bored out to 147cc for the 175cc class, on which youngest brother Antonio 'Tonino' Benelli made his racing debut. By 1927 Tonino was racing a 172cc Benelli equipped with single-overhead-cam engine, winning almost as he pleased to take that year's Italian Championship. The SOHC 175 was superseded by a short-stroke twin-cam version from which was developed the first racing 250 of 1935. By this time Benellis were winning classic races outside their native Italy, but an accident to Tonino, which caused his retirement from racing, set back the factory's competition programme for the next couple of years.
Benelli was back in force for 1937 and the new 250 duly demonstrated its potential when Martelli won that year's Milan-Taranto long-distance classic. Two years later came the marque's most famous victory, when lone Benelli rider Ted Mellors won the 1939 Isle of Man Lightweight TT.
Its factory destroyed by the Allies and then looted by the Germans, Benelli took time to re-establish itself after the war. Fortunately, the racing machines had been hidden away and survived intact, providing the Italian concern with a valuable springboard from which to renew its Grand Prix campaign. Rivals Moto Guzzi secured the first post-war 250cc World Championship in 1949, but Benelli struck back the following year when works rider Dario Ambrosini became champion at the end of a season that included wins in three of the four 250 rounds: Switzerland, Italy, and the Isle of Man TT. He finished 2nd in the other round (the Ulster GP) to crown a season of masterly dominance. Sadly, Ambrosini's death at the French Grand Prix in 1951 effectively put an end to Benelli's international efforts and it would be 1959 before the firm returned to the Grand Prix scene.
Giancarlo Morbidelli tracked down Ambrosini's historic Benelli in the UK with the help of the late John Surtees, and purchased it from Norman Webb in the late 1980s (see photographs on file). It is believed that Norman Webb had bought the machine directly from the Benelli factory and raced it. Although the fuel and oil tanks have been repainted, the frame, forks, and mudguards retain their original paintwork, and it is just possible to discern the outline of the number '23', which was Ambrosini's, on the rear 'guard. Restored in the Morbidelli Museum's workshop, this historically important World Championship-winning Benelli is offered with an exceptionally comprehensive history file of contemporary photographs, race reports, correspondence, etc (inspection recommended).
£120,000 - 180,000
€130,000 - 200,000
As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
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