One of only 42 built, 1977 MV Agusta 850SS

One of only 42 built, 1977 MV Agusta 850SS

MV Agusta began life as an aero engine factory, but post-World War II, company head Count Domenico Agusta had to find an alternative business, following the likes of Piaggio and Fiat in getting Italy moving again in the post-war environment. To be successful, a company had to prove itself in racing, and MV took that on with colossal Italian flair. From the late 1940s, the firm enjoyed 25 years of wins in just about everything that mattered in racing, including an astonishing 37 World Championships.

Up to the mid-1960s, the successful formula was in diminutive and supremely elegant sing-cylinder, small capacity machines, but a foray into the competitive world of larger capacities arrived initially with the 1965 600cc as an appetizer for  the 750cc 4-cylinder ‘S’ of 1968. A powerful, brutish and tremendously exotic, limited production machine, the bike was only for the more well-heeled enthusiast. Marque specialist Mick Walker rode a nice example for his book MV Agusta Fours: ‘The experience was unique; the rider was transported to a different level and made to feel really special. There was certainly a pronounced “feel-good factor.’ Bike magazine rated the 750S as ‘one of the most dramatic-looking bikes made, the real stuff of legend.’ Few would disagree.

By 1974, the firm built a development model aimed at the US market, spurred on by US Importer, Chris Garville and MV retailer, racer, and tuner Jim Cotherman. A limited-edition luxury sportbike penned by Fredmano Spairani and Ing. Giuseppe Bocchi with more power, angular styling and features that met US-market requirements such as a left-side shifter, turn signals, and air filters, was aptly named the 750 America.

With business rainclouds rapidly approaching, the firm managed to release the 850SS, or Monza as some refer to it as. Converted 750 America models were bored to a capacity of 837cc with a compression ratio of 9.5:1 and a quoted 85bhp at 9,500rpm. The US model has four 26mm Dell’Orto VHB26D carburetors as opposed to rest-of-the-world’s 27mm. It was to be the end of the line for MV’s shaft drive fours. Respected historian Ian Falloon from his book (The book of the classic MV Fours, Veloce, 2011) says, ‘Some mystery surrounds the 850SS, or Monza. Certainly, a number of unsold Americas were still in the factory in 1977, but the amount converted into 850SSs appeared to be very small.” The number 42, 850SSs that is often quoted but this is the number of unsold 750S Americas still the factory in 1977, not all of which were converted to 850SS. Whatever the true number, it’s a very, very small one.

The motorbike offered

The 1977 MV Agusta 850SS on offer here comes to us from an east coast collector. Originally imported in early 1977 to the Elmsford, New York dealer, it seems to have resided in the northeast its entire life. It was purchased many years ago by our vendor, but used sparingly before being put on long-term static display. Matching numbers and in completely unrestored condition, this fantastically rare machine shows just 1,791 miles on the odometer, believed to be original. This historically significant motorcycle will need a full re-commissioning before returning to awe-inspiring road use.