Possibly the ultimate barn find? This super rare MV Agusta engine once belonged to Count Agusta and formed part of his private collection. We saw it at Rimini Lambretta Centre last year when we visited but Dean Orton tells us a bit more about the exotic 165cc engine.
Every now and then we come across a scooter oddball that makes our day. To cut a very long story short, we received a lead about “A weird twin cylinder scooter engine from the 50s” that a collector was about to sell. After some deft research and a trip across Italy we came to become the new owners of the engine you see here.
In the late 50s, MV Agusta were lagging behind in the scooter market and looked at trying to get one-up on main rivals Lambretta and Vespa by producing an exotic twin-cylinder scooter. They basically designed and built a prototype engine that was then fitted into a scooter that aesthetically looked very similar to a modified version of one of their then current ‘Chicco’ scooter models.
Only shown once
The scooter was denominated the ‘BIK’. Other than the name, very little is known about this project and nothing exists other than one photo hailing from the 1959 Milan Motorcycle Fair, where the scooter was unveiled for the first and only time. No doubt it caused a stir and would have been a huge publicity scoop for MV at the time. However, things were not to be and after the show, the scooter disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again.
Fast forward 60 years and the immediate area around the Malpensa airport in Milan is being force-purchased by the Italian Government due to the expansion of the international airport. On that land, several hangers and outbuildings situated on the site were owned by MV. One of which was dedicated to the storage of Count Domenico Agusta’s personal ‘collection’ and housed several rare MV Agusta Grand Prix racing bikes, a Vespa Ape 3-wheel rickshaw (the logbook for which showed a single owner, being a certain ‘Count D. Agusta’) and the twin cylinder scooter engine you see here before you. The Count must have held this project in particular esteem or it’d have been binned along with the scooter chassis it was once fitted to.
The 166cc motor is very Lambretta-esque in certain aspects, albeit with twin, parallel vertical cylinders and a single Dell’Orto 18mm MB series carb feeding them both. There were two cooling fans but only one Dansi ignition. The scooter ran 10-inch wheels and the casings were sand-cast. The engine turns over, is numbered ‘2’ and has carbon deposits in the exhaust transfers, so had been run back in the day.
Too many strokes
Initially, when we were chasing the motor, we were led to believe it was a 2-stroke, so we’d pondered over the idea of fitting it into a modified Lambretta Vega frame. However, once we saw pics of it and realised that it had 2-strokes too many, the rarity of the beast and the amazing history behind it meant that we’d probably get shot for doing so. Time permitting though, we might fire it up on the bench one day…
Words: Dean Orton RLC
Pics: RLC & Vittorio Tessera
Probably one of the rarest scooter engines in the world
New products always in development…