The ex-works; Carlo Ubbiali, 1956 MV Agusta 123.5cc Bialbero Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 410 Engine no. 410

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Lot 473
The ex-works; Carlo Ubbiali, 1956 MV Agusta 123.5cc Bialbero Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 410 Engine no. 410

£ 100,000 - 120,000US$ 130,000 - 150,000
The ex-works; Carlo Ubbiali
1956 MV Agusta 123.5cc Bialbero Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 410
Engine no. 410
• One of two used by the Italian World Champion in 1956
• Formerly part of the Fuji Museum collection
• Present ownership since 2013

'The Verghera marque's unequalled record of success during the 28 years from 1948 to 1976 won them over 3,000 races and 37 World Championships... The list of riders who raced MV machinery reads like a Who's Who of motorcycle sport, with Cecil Sandford, Les Graham, Bill Lomas, Carlo Ubbiali, John Surtees, Luigi Taveri, Gary Hocking, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read prominent among them.' – Mick Walker, 'MV Agusta'.

Although best known for their multi-cylinder four-strokes, multiple World Championship-winning MV-Agusta built lightweights throughout its manufacturing career and in its early days listed small two-strokes and even a scooter. The racing 125cc two-strokes that first appeared in 1948 were a major success, winning the arduous Milan-Taranto road race in 1950, '51 and '52, but at World Championship level the MVs were outclassed by the four-stroke FB-Mondial with its twin-overhead-cam engine. Count Agusta's response was to hire Gilera's chief designer Piero Remor together with its chief mechanic, Arturo Magni in 1950. For the '125' class Remor came up with a four-stroke single boasting a twin-cam (bialbero) cylinder head, and applied the same technology to MV's new four-cylinder '500'.

However, Remor's new '125' was not an immediate success, scoring only a single points-paying finish in 1950 and just one podium result in '51, the latter courtesy of new arrival Les Graham. It was only following Mondial's withdrawal from racing that MV bagged its first 125cc World Championship, Cecil Sandford taking the riders' title in 1952. MV's '125' had been extensively redesigned for '52, gaining telescopic forks, full-width alloy hubs, and a sleeker fuel tank, while maximum power increased to 15bhp. Les Graham's influence saw the '125' equipped with Ernie Earles' leading-link front forks for 1953, and these also found their way onto the 500cc four. Graham won the Ultra-lightweight TT at the Isle of Man that year but his tragic death a few days later dealt a severe blow to the team's fortunes; NSU works rider Werner Haas went on to take the riders' title in the 125cc class but MV did at least have the satisfaction of retaining the manufacturers' crown.

NSU continued its dominance of the 125cc class in 1954, works rider Rupert Hollaus being crowned World Champion at the year's end with MV's Carlo Ubbiali runner-up. The German factory's withdrawal at the end of the '54 season left no credible opposition in the lightweight classes for MV, which duly scooped its second 125cc World Championship in 1955, winning all six Grands Prix that year. Carlo Ubbiali's five wins ensured the Italian of his second world title. For the next five years the combination of Ubbiali and the '125' MV would prove almost unbeatable. The Italian would secure four more 125cc World Championships before retiring at the end of the 1960 season, an almost unprecedented run of success only interrupted in 1957 by Mondial-mounted Tarquinio Provini. Ubbiali also claimed the '250' world title for MV in 1956, '59, and '60. Ubbiali's retirement coincided with MV's withdrawal from serious involvement in the lightweight classes at international level, but what an extraordinary achievement it had been.
The bialbero '125' offered here is one of two works machines allocated to Carlo Ubbiali for 1956; one of the Italian star's most successful seasons, it saw him win six out of the seven World Championship events in the '125' class, including the Isle of Man TT, plus the Italian National Championship. He also won the first of his three '250' class World Championships that same year.
Many years ago, this ex-Ubbiali MV was purchased by the Fuji Museum in Japan where it was a major attraction. A feature on the Fuji Museum in the 'Riders Club' quarterly magazine 'Be Space' included many photographs of the MV (photocopy on file). This machine also features in Mario Colombo and Robert Patrignani's book 'MV Agusta' (pages 246 and 247), its engine being captioned as 'prepared for fuel injection'.

When the Fuji Museum disposed of its collection, this machine was purchased at a US auction by an American collector. When the latter passed away it was sold to classic motorcycle specialist, George Beale, who sold it on to a Japanese colleague. The current vendor, a prominent private collector, bought the MV from the latter in 2013 (see email printout on file).

Ex-works Grand Prix motorcycles from road-racing's 1950s 'Golden Age' are seldom offered for sale, making this MV Agusta '125', associated with one of the sport's greatest stars, a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the serious collector.

Footnotes

  • 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.
Contacts
The ex-works; Carlo Ubbiali, 1956 MV Agusta 123.5cc Bialbero Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 410 Engine no. 410
The ex-works; Carlo Ubbiali, 1956 MV Agusta 123.5cc Bialbero Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 410 Engine no. 410
The ex-works; Carlo Ubbiali, 1956 MV Agusta 123.5cc Bialbero Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 410 Engine no. 410
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