History always repeats itself, even motorcycle history. If you need proof, you should check out this 1957 MV Agusta 175 AB, currently up for auction on Bring a Trailer. It tells a story about MV Agusta’s past, a story that we’re about to see repeated in coming months.
MV Agusta built the 175 series from 1953 through 1960, and from the start, it was new territory for the Italian manufacturer. At the time, MV Agusta was known for its two-stroke engines, but the 175s were four-strokes. The unit-construction single, with overhead valve, wasn’t revolutionary at that time. JAP had been building OHV valve engines as early as the 1900s, and they were common on multi-cylinder bikes. The MV Agusta was definitely forward-thinking, though, as plenty of the made-in-Europe competition was still building oil-leaking two-stroke engines for their small-cc machines.
Compared to its two-stroke competition, MV Agusta’s 175 engine was surprisingly competent. The D5, and D7 versions of BSA’s 175cc Bantam two-stroke only made 7.5 horsepower, and the DKW and Harley-Davidson variants on the design were even less powerful. By contrast, MV Agusta’s four-stroke supposedly made eight horsepower. However, later versions of BSA’s Bantam engine had more jam, with as much as 12.5 horsepower.
When you’re in this category, a couple of horsepower will make a very noticeable difference, but at least MV Agusta’s engine didn’t embarrass itself against its contemporaries. The rest of the package—four-speed gearbox, right-side shifter —was fairly standard for its time. As you’d expect, it has a chain final drive, telescopic forks, and dual rear shocks.
There were several 175 models, built for everything from racing to touring. The AB variant seen here was intended for budget-minded buyers, with a simplified engine that kept costs down. This particular machine has a replacement exhaust system, a Rooster Booster ignition, and a single Dell’Orto carburetor. The bike has a replacement seat and fenders, the fuel tank has an internal coating to keep rust at bay, and there’s some rust on the chrome bits. It’s got SLS brake drums, with 19-inch Radaelli chrome rims.
It’s certainly not all original, but this 175 does start and run, as the ad’s video proves. It’s selling for reasonable money at this point, and if nothing else, this machine proves MV Agusta’s past wasn’t all GP wins and exotic styling. Decades ago, MV Agusta made sensible everyday bikes, just like it’s planning to do in coming months, cooperating with Chinese manufacturing. The superbike junkies might not like it, but the new Asian-built bikes aren’t breaking the rules, they’re only revisiting history.