Moto d’epoca

Bikes of yesteryear: the MBA, the story of a rescue

In Paolo Targa’s garage, his MBAs are parked in a row, side by side. The race number on the nose of most of the bikes brings back memories of the Mugello and Romagna tracks. The Morbidelli Benelli Armi motorcycle won a lot on those circuits in the years when Mr. Targa from Arezzo went to see the races: “It was the first production racing bike in the world, the European bike that at the time managed to beat Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha. In those days you could have gone right into the pits, there was no problem”. Founded in 1975, the new motorcycle manufacturer was born from the partnership between the two companies Morbidelli and Benelli Armi. The initials originate from the initial letters, which remained unchanged even with the change of name to Moto Benelli Armi. In its 15 years of activity, the MBA has been synonymous with victory: four times world champion drivers and four times brands, nine in the lead in the national championship and seven in the European one, as well as countless podiums abroad. Despite the successes on the track and the prestige on the market, the glory of the Benelli Armi motorcycle did not last long. The competitions weren’t paying and the MBA didn’t make enough from marketing. It seems that the work of the technicians did not align with managerial choices, to the detriment of economic sustainability. A new international regulation on engines helped to clip the wings of the manufacturer, which found itself without the resources to invest in the design and development of new motorcycles. The Court of Urbino declared the bankruptcy of Moto Benelli Armi on April 18, 1990; the company’s assets were put up for auction. News that Paolo Targa and Pier Luigi Tagliaferri have come to know thanks to word of mouth. “A friend of mine phoned me to tell me that they were giving away the whole factory”, says Targa, “Pier Luigi and I wanted to buy two new bikes. At that point we said to ourselves that we would have given up but we would have participated in the auction “. So they took home motorcycles, some medals, design drawings. To protect and keep alive the brand that has won them over so much, Paolo and Pier Luigi have set up the MBA Historical Register. “We did it to try to track down all the owners of this brand. We have friends in Australia, Japan, Venezuela, in different parts of America and everywhere in Europe “. Those treasures are now partly found in the home of Paolo Targa, partly in the small museum of Sant’Angelo in Vado dedicated to the Benelli Armi motorcycle. “Often the owners come to Arezzo and stay a day or two. Sometimes they bring their MBAs and go around the neighborhood following the itineraries I prepare for them. In the evening we gather to recall the history and the adventures of the pilots ”. Shiny and perfect, Paolo’s bikes testify to a passion that is anything but dormant and the memory of a fraternal, indelible friendship, even now that Pier Luigi is no longer there. Mr. Targa is well aware that, in addition to objects, what they have kept together is the memory of an iconic brand for Italian motorcycling: “There is nothing left of many companies… We have created an MBA community”.

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