During the latter part of 1971 Alejandro De Tomaso, an Argentinian industrialist, purchased the oldest surviving Italian motorcycle firm Benelli of Pesaro. He found the company struggling to compete in the marketplace with the masses of Japanese imports flooding Italy. The price of the home product was well in excess of the imports because the Japanese had automated production lines, compared with the hand-built products of Italy. It was under these circumstances De Tomaso decided that Benelli would unleash something rather special onto the world market. During 1972 Benelli displayed the world's first six cylinder road bike, an across the frame 750cc, six cylinder, single OHC engine producing 71bhp at 8500rpm with six cylinders. It got journalists tongues wagging around the world; it was, indeed, a huge publicity coup, a superbike was born. The production of the bike started during 1974 with Agratti of Nottingham being the British importers. There were teething problems during the early days. The gearboxes gave trouble but these were largely sorted. Sales were slow as the bike was released just before Honda introduced the CBX 1000 Six. Honda had a head start with the ordinary biker as it was a household name by then, and the name Benelli was not well known. Notwithstanding these points the Benelli had its own enthusiastic following and the original Mk I grew into the Mk 2. The main difference being the substitution of the points for an electronic ignition system. The superb handling and smoothness was way ahead of the opposition and the bike came into its own on the twisty roads of rural Britain. The next Six to arrive was the Benelli 900 Sei, another styling sensation. This model replaced the 750 in 1979. The tank covering, side panels and tailpiece were made in plastic, and gone were the six tailpipes which were now channelled into two. With a capacity of 906cc the performance was 80bhp with a top speed of 130mph. The Mk I was fitted with the Moto Guzzi Mk I Le Mans handlebar fairing. Marks 2 and 3 had few changes but the Mk 4 came in 1987 with a changed livery, all-black engine and pipes. This remained available as late as 1991. The 750 Sei caused an air of excitement wherever it was seen. The engine was smooth enough to stand a 50p coin on the tank whilst bringing the revs up to 6000. The 900 Sei was the greyhound of the two with improved top speed and the extra refinement of a duplex drive chain. The 750 will always have the edge in the classic world because of the styling and the six pipes. Like all Latin motorcycles, once the rough edges are removed, they are desirable machines and both are now much sought after by enthusiasts.This book will give a good insight into the Benelli marque.
The story of the Benelli 750 & 900 sixes is traced through 25 articles sourced from the leading publications of the day & includes road & comparison tests, driving impressions & new model intro's. Models covered: 750 Sei, Mk I, Mk 2, 900 Sei, Mk 1, Mk 2, Mk 3 & Mk 4. 120 pages. 22 in colour.