Giancarlo Morbidelli passes away aged 86

Giancarlo Morbidelli, founder of his eponymous motorcycle manufacturer and racing team, dies at the age of 86

Giancarlo Morbidelli

Giancarlo Morbidelli, founder of the legendary Morbidelli motorcycle brand, has died at the age of 86-years old in his hometown of Pesaro, Italy.

Morbidelli, a former racer himself, founded his eponymous company in the late 1960s which began life building wooden coach bodies for automobiles, before moving into motorsport in 1969 with its own 50cc machine.

Stepping up to Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 1971, the team experienced immediate success with two race wins with Gilberto Parlotti. From here the brand enjoyed growing success through the 1970s leading to 125cc championship glory in 1975 with Paolo Pileri before Pier Paolo Bianchi clinched the 1976 title.

In 1977, Morbidelli went on to win both the 125 and 250 classes with Bianchi and Mario Lega respectively. Morbidelli joined forces with Benelli Armi to create MBA from 1978, winning the 125cc title again that year and again in 1980. The brand eventually withdrew from grand prix competition in 1982.

Morbidelli went on to gain notoriety in 1994 when it constructed a wild 32-valve 847cc 90-degree V8 sport touring motorcycle, which the Guinness Book of World Records listed in 2001 to be the most expensive motorcycle in the world.

With its divisive styling and high price, however, the Morbidelli V8 never made it to production.

Today, the former Morbidelli factory in Pesaro houses a classic motorcycle museum containing many of the brands most successful race machines.

Giancarlo’s son Gianni Morbidelli went on to compete in Formula 1 and still races at the highest levels of touring car competition.