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Photo by AZjohnny

1946 - 1963

Motorcycle history

1957 Aermacchi Chimera 175

Aermacchi (Società Commerciale Aeronautica), founded in Varese, was mainly known for aircraft and motorcycle manufacturing. After the end of World War II, the company changed its name to Società Commerciale Aeronautica to once again turned to the motorcycle.In 1946 they also presented a small car under the brand name of Macchitre MB 1. It was decided to start peacetime production with a three-wheeler truck. This was an unorthodox and initially strange little vehicle but a very good design.

Then, in anticipating of the motorcycle boom and intending to have a stake in it, the Aermacchi managemnet team looked for a good designer who could produce an attractive lightweight. Their choice was Lino Tonti, who had been at Benelli and had worked on aircraft engines during the war. Tonti designed a 50 cc motorcycle that broke the land speed record for that displacement class. The bikes produced by Aermacchi were quite successful in the postwar Italian market, mainly thanks to their repeated good finishes 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"). In the beginning, these vehicles were equipped with 2-cylinder engines had been designed to be used mostly for the local area and are therefore were quite lightweight and quick.

Only in 1963 did they begin a small-car project under the name Gabry. In the 70s, Harley-Davidson took over the management of the company. Later, the motorcycle division ran under the brand name "Caviga" and was managed again as an independent company.

LinTo Aermacchi

see also Linto

The LinTo-Aermacchi 75 which established the speed record on the Autostrada dei Laghi or Street on the Lakes

In 1947, exploiting the potential from the workshop for processing of waste, in addition to his creative abilities, Tonti decided to build a prototype racing bikes to be used in various races on road circuits of Romagna Riviera and Temporada Romagna, a then quite widespread popularity. Thus was born the Linto 75 (an acronym for 'Lin'o Tonti), with a four-stroke single cylinder DOHC distribution engine initial displacement of 75 cc, later increased to 125 cc, in order to run even in the higher category.

In 1948 began to design a futuristic model of a scooter with big wheels, which was presented to Rimini in 1950 with the name the Aermacchi 125 N Swan or Linto 125 Swan, with the intention to propose to the various motorcycle for the construction in the series. In search of good ideas for the redevelopment of its factories to civilian production had given the huge commercial success for scooters with wheels as tall as the Moto Guzzi Galletto. Aermacchi decided to buy the "Swan" project and upon the advice of Tonti, start their motorcycle section.

Same route was adopted in 1952, from technical Romagna for the next scooter Linto Dama 160 carried out on a Aermacchi motor and technical solutions with the highest level. Inexplicably, after the second prototype developed in 1954, management decided not to put it into production and, probably, this was the reason that prompted him to consider other offers.

Before departing from Aermacchi, however, he completed a project for the construction of torpedo record, driven by an evolution of that DOHC by 75 cm 3, which, ridden by Massimo Pasolini, received the world speed record at the flying kilometer, reaching 167.208 km/h on the Autostrada dei Laghi (Street on the Lakes).

Aermacchi bikes re-badged as Harley-Davidsons

Harley Davidson Aermacchi
Scale model of an Aermacchi Harley-Davidson 250 cc with the racing engine as was used from 1973 to 1979

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. This was an attempt to take back market sectors that were at the time 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.

List of Models


  • 1912 - Aeronautica Macchi was founded by Giulio Macchi
  • 1945 - Three Wheel Truck MB1 is indroduced
  • 1951 - Aermacchi started to manufacture motorcycles
  • 1956 - The 175cc Chimera was introduced; Speed Records: 50cc standing mile = 82.530 kph; 75cc flying mile = 161.337 kph; 75cc flying kilometer = 167.208
  • 1957 - Chimera 175cc
  • 1958 - Chimera 175cc ,Chimera 250cc
  • 1959 - Chimera 175cc ,Chimera 250cc
  • 1960 - Chimera 175cc, Chimera 250cc, Harley-Davidson bought 50% of Aermacchi, Italy
  • 1961 - Chimera 175cc ,Chimera 250cc
  • 1963 - (Brezza) ,Chimera 250cc
  • 1964 - (Brezza) ,Chimera 250cc
  • 1965 - (M-50), (Brezza)
  • 1966 - (M-50), (Brezza)
  • 1967 - (M-65, Brezza, Sprint 250cc SS, Sprint 250cc H)
  • 1968 - (M-50, Rapido MLS, Brezza)
  • 1969 - (Brezza), Harley-Davidson is adopted by AMF (American Machine & Foundry), (350cc Sprint)
  • 1970 - (Leggero, Baja, Rapido, Leggero, Ala Verde 250, Sprint ERS, SS-350, GT-350)
  • 1971 - (Leggero, Baja, RC-125, Rapido, Ala Verde 250, SS-350, 350-TV, GT-350)
  • 1972 - (Shortster, Leggero, Baja, Rapido, Ala Verde 250, 350-TV, SS-350, SX-350, GT-350, Sprint ERS)
  • 1973 - (X-90, Z-90, Baja, Rapido, SX-125, RC-125, TX-125, SS-350, SX-350)
  • 1974 - World Championship 250ccm, Walter Villa RR-250, (X-90, Z-90, Baja, RC-125, SXT-125, SX-175, SS-350)
  • 1975 - World Championship 250ccm, Walter Villa RR-250, (X-90, Z-90, SXT-125, SX-175, SX-250, SS-250)
  • 1976 - World Championship 250ccm, Walter Villa RR-250 and also in the 350ccm class, (SXT-125, SST-250)
  • 1977 - (SXT-125, MX-250)
  • 1978 - (MX-250), Aermacchi is completely sold to the Cagiva-Group


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