1978 MV Agusta Magni 861 — built with a magical touch

Highly sought-after, this overhauled MV Agusta Magni 861 with just 13,000 miles has Simon de Burton hot under the collar


Arturo Magni's workshop gave an extra 20bhp assisted by 40kg weight loss

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Throughout the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, MV Agusta enjoyed one of the most remarkable runs of racing success of any motorcycle marque in history: 250 grand prix wins, 37 manufacturers’ world championships and 38 riders’ world championships.

And the man who helped to make those victories happen was legendary engineer Arturo Magni, poached from Gilera in 1950 at the age of just 25 by MV’s owner, Count Domenico Agusta, as a key weapon in his plan to dominate racing at the highest level.

Having started as chief mechanic, Magni was soon promoted to race director, a role he held until MV withdrew from competition more than 25 years later – at which point, after a brief but respectful hiatus, he and his two sons established an eponymous business manufacturing special parts for the thencurrent four-cylinder 750S model.

Magni developed the enterprise into a full-scale production facility that would go on to create a range of handmade, fine-handling specials designed to house engines by Honda, BMW, Suzuki and Moto Guzzi.

But it is the MV Agusta Magni that most enthusiasts want and few come much better than this exceptional example at the Classic Motor Hub. Offered for sale complete with its original toolkit, handbooks, sales literature and full race fairing in MV’s famous red and silver livery, the bike remained in the hands of its original owner for 39 years, having started life as a regular 750 model in 1976.


In 2019, UK-based MV Meccanica Verghera rebuilt the bike

It was despatched from the MV factory to the Magni workshops where it received the full treatment: a shaft drive to chain drive conversion; an aluminium fuel tank; a frame weighing 11kg; 30mm Dellorto carburettors; a curvaceous four-pipe exhaust system and, most significantly, the fitting of high-compression pistons and 70mm bore, nine-fin cylinders to bring capacity up to 861cc.

The result was a bike that weighed 200kg and produced 95bhp, compared with the stock machine’s 240kg and 75bhp.

Once completed, the Magni-fied MV was shipped to the UK in 1977. It was the first Magni in the country and has had only one owner since (who acquired it in 2017) and, although it has just 13,000 miles, benefits from a recent overhaul, which included a new crankshaft with upgraded bearings.

The classic car market is levelling up, but demand for exotic motorcycles in original condition and with cast-iron provenance is rising. While the best part of £100,000 for two wheels might have seemed strong only 10 years ago, there are pundits who believe ‘the best of the best’ still has a long way to go.

And, when it comes to MV Agustas, they don’t come better than the ones modified and built with the magical touch of Arturo Magni.

1978 MV Agusta Magni 861
On sale at The Classic Motor Hub, Bibury, Gloucestershire
Asking £95,000