MV Agusta’s Castiglioni Dead at 64

August 17, 2011
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

MV Agusta President Claudio Castiglioni has died at the age of 64. A statement released by the company reports Castiglioni died in Varese, Italy after battling an unspecified illness.

MV Agusta President Caludio Castiglioni has dies at the age of 64 in Varese  Italy.
MV Agusta President Caludio Castiglioni has died at the age of 64 in Varese, Italy.

A important figure in Italian motorcycling, Castiglioni first jumped into the motorcycle business in 1978. He expanded his father’s company, Cagiva, from a small metalwork manufacturer into a large motorcycling enterprise (The company name is a portmanteau signifying the original founder, GIovanni CAstiglioni, and the company’s home, VArese). Over the decades Castiglioni’s two-wheeled business interests branched out with the acquisition of such marques as Moto Morini, Ducati, Husqvarna and MV Agusta.

As a businessman, Castiglioni showed uncanny savvy, or remarkable luck, leveraging his brands. Not once, but twice, he reacquired MV after unloading it – first to the Malaysian-based Proton for 70 million Euro and most recently to Harley-Davidson (the American firm paid $109 million for MV in 2008, selling it back to Castiglioni in 2010). Castiglioni sold off Ducati in 1996 to Texas Pacific Group and later Husqvarna to BMW in 2007.

Castiglioni will perhaps be remembered most for the iconic motorcycles built under his watch. The new F3 supersport was the latest in a long line of beautiful bikes attributed to the Italian, with Castiglioni himself reputedly determining the F3’s Inline Triple engine configuration. He also played a role in the Ducati Monster and 916, along with the MV Agusta F4 and Brutale. In many of these projects, Castiglioni benefited from his long-time association with the legendary designer Massimo Tamburini – who joined Cagiva in 1985 and retired in 2008.

On the race track, Castiglioni’s companies competed in World Motocross and Dakar, as well as Grand Prix. Ducati’s early dominance in World Superbike marked the most successful racing efforts under the Italian’s watch.

MV Agusta’s future will be guided by Claudio’s son Giovanni, who according to MV Agusta’s annoucement, has been carrying out much of his father’s responsibilities during the past year.

A funeral is planned for Friday, August 19th, in Varese.