c.1937 Benelli 493cc 'Cascada' Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. 10-5411
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 The Great War, 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.
During the 1930s Benelli excelled on the racetrack, particularly in the '250' class, as well as manufacturing a wide variety of roadster models in various capacities. At the top of the range was a single-overhead-camshaft '500' featuring the then fashionable 'sloper' engine, which in the Benelli's case was inclined at 12 degrees. First seen at the Milan Show in 1933, this family of models became known as the 'Cascada' (cascade) because the upstairs cam was driven by a train of spur gears. The '500' had bore/stroke dimensions of 85x87mm for a capacity of 493cc and was made in two versions: 'N' tourer and 'S' sports, which were superseded in 1937 by broadly similar 'TN' and 'TS' models. Other noteworthy features included a four-speed, foot change gearbox, oil tank integral with the crankcase, and optional plunger rear suspension (from November 1936). Distinctly British in appearance, these overhead-cam Benellis were among the fastest Continental sports roadsters of their day.
This particular Benelli Cascada had been modified for racing and would make an exciting addition to BHR's grids for the forthcoming season. The machine was purchased from a jointly owned private collection in Spain.
- The frame number for this lot should read 10 907.