Teresa Benelli established a motor car and motorcycle repair and service business to find work for her six sons: Giovanni, Francesco, Fillipo, Domenico, Antonio and Giuseppe in 1911 after the death of her husband. The business was located on the Adriatic coast in Pesaro. From these small beginnings came a world famous motorcycle manufacturer, Benelli Motorcycles.
At the time, parts for motor vehicles were hard to get. Parts stores and worldwide distribution was still on the horizon and the brothers were occasionally required to manufacture parts needed for the vehicles they were working on.
Each of the brothers had a specialty within the company. Engineering was the responsibility of brothers Giuseppe and Giovanni, finances and accounting was taken care of by Domenico and Filipo, while Antonio was a racer and development rider and Francesco specialized in the car side of the business.
First Benelli Motorcycle
After the First World War the Benelli brothers, using their engineering skills, went into motorcycle production with a 98-cc machine. Later versions of this bike used an enlarged engine of 150-cc which Antonio used (after tuning) for racing.
After gaining much success with the 150-cc machine ridden by Antonio, the company produced a 175-cc OHC which proved to be very competitive.
In the following years Benelli produced many innovative machines including in 1938 a water cooled, supercharged, 250-cc four cylinder racing machine with a reputed power output of more than 60 hp.
Although small capacity street bikes were the mainstay of the Benelli company, promotion of the brand was entrusted to the racing department. Success in the Italian championships with Tarquinio Provini was followed by Grand Prix wins with riders such as Renzo Pasolini, Mike Hailwood and Kel Carruthers (world 250-cc champion in 1969 on a Benelli).
The 750 Sei
By the early 70s, the Benelli company had started to make larger capacity machines (the parallel twin engined Tornado 650 being the first). With the arrival of Argentinean industrialist Alejandro De Tomaso, who took control in 1971, the company attempted to take on the Japanese manufacturers with 125-cc and 250-cc 2-strokes. But the biggest gamble was to produce a multi-cylinder superbike, the 750-cc Benelli Sei (six in Italian) styled by Italian car styling specialists Ghia.
The six cylinder Benelli came into production in 1974. It was well received by the international press, albeit criticized for its price which was expensive in comparison to the Japanese competition. Unfortunately, early examples were unreliable with crankshaft and gearbox issues.
Some 3,200 examples of the 750 six were produced between 1974 and 1977 before the model was replaced by a larger capacity version of 900-cc in 1978.
Benelli 750 Sei Specifications:
Today, the Benelli Sei is highly collectable. An early version (1974) in excellent condition is valued at approximately $10,000. However, prospective buyers should be aware that parts for these machines are difficult to find.