Category: Automakers

From Russia With Love

Video: From Russia With Love
From Russia With Love
From Russia With Love




Alan KATKART, Great Britain - specially for Moto, drawing by Sergey CHIRKOV



According to informed sources in the Italian business press, the motorcycle company Benelli is about to fall into the hands of 25-year-old Russian businessman Nikolai Smolensky. Known in certain circles as the “baby oligarch,” Smolensky, whose personal fortune exceeds $ 100 million, last year acquired the British company TVR, which annually produces about 2, 000 extra-class sports cars. The company, founded 40 years ago by Trevor Wilkinson (the letters of his name TreVoR and made up the brand name), initially produced sets for assembling cars (the so-called whale cars). In 1982, it was bought by Peter Wheeler, who turned this semi-workshop into a first-class company capable of designing and producing even its own engines. Smolensky laid out for her 15 million pounds (about 28 million dollars).

However, Nicholas and an avid motorcyclist (rides a Ducati 999). By the way, his father, Alexander Smolensky, owned the Irbitsky Motors Plant for a short time (can one speculate: on the whim of his son?). Nikolai himself, shortly after the acquisition of TVR, tried to buy the British motorcycle company CCM, but did not grow together. Then Smolensky, according to rumors, decided to establish a TVR motorcycle department and produce sportbikes and street births in the same macho style.

Now he has thrown these plans in favor of the venerable (founded back in 1911) motorcycle company from the Italian city of Pesaro. Well, her sport bike Tornado and streetfighter TNT are similar in spirit to TVR cars: they were designed by Englishman Adrian Morton.

The legendary Italian brand, often referred to as the “Maserati two-wheeler,” was bought in 1995 by Andrea Merloni, a former motorcycle racer and, more importantly, a member of one of the richest Italian clans who made a fortune in the production of household appliances Indesit and Ariston. At that time, Benelli produced scooters, but Merloni Jr. gave up resources to design a motorcycle with a 900 cc 3-cylinder engine. Benelli Tornado 900 saw the light of day in 2000 - exactly at the time of the scooter crisis. So Andrea's money ran out at the most inopportune moment, and his father, Vittorio, again, quite inappropriately made it clear that he did not intend to subsidize this adventure indefinitely. “Trouble has come - open the gates”: relations with the importer from the USA have deteriorated, and the road to the rich market for Tornado has been shut off.

Now 50 employees of Benelli (the entire staff of the company) are sitting at home, and the Merloni concern is looking for an eccentric who would pay more or less decent money for the brand. However, a good demand for the TNT model (all the cars of 2005 have already been sold out) appealed to dad Vittorio, and he agreed to finance the company by the end of the year. Therefore, we, readers, have a chance to see a new 1000 cc “all-terrain” model at the exhibition in Milan in November - an answer to the Ducati Multistrada. There will also debut a replacement for the Tornado - with a new 1000 cc engine, Ohlins suspensions and radial brakes.

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