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Benelli was established in Pesaro, Italy, in 1911

Teresa Benelli, a widow, sank all of the family capital into the business, in the hope that it would offer stable work for her six sons: Giuseppe, Giovanni, Francesco, Filippo, Domenico and Antonio or "Tonino".

In the beginning, it was just the "Benelli Garage" which only repaired cars and motorcycles, but was already able to produce all of the spare parts needed for repairs.

In 1920 the company built its first complete engine in-house, a single-cylinder two-stroke 75 cc model, immediately adapted to a bicycle frame.

A year later in 1921, Benelli built its first motorcycle with its OWN engine which had by then become a 98 cc model.

Two years after that, using a version specially designed for competitions, Tonino the "terrible" took to the track. He displayed an extraordinary natural talent as a rider and embarked on a very successful career which confirmed the company's exceptional capacity for development and production.

Riding a Benelli 175, Tonino Benelli won 4 Italian championship titles almost consecutively, in 1927, 1928 and 1930 with the single overhead camshaft version, and in 1931 with the double overhead camshaft version.

Unfortunately, a bad crash during a race in 1932 cut short his brilliant career and on 27 September 1937 Tonino died following a "silly" road accident.

In 1962, Benelli and Motobi (established by Giuseppe Benelli in 1949 after disagreements with his brothers, but later attached to the parent company when the family problems were resolved) produced around 300 motorcycles per day and had 550 employees.

Towards the end of the 1960s, the arrival of Japanese manufacturers caused an unprecedented crisis in the European motorcycle industry.

Benelli changed ownership but despite its continued innovations in the motorcycle sector - for example, the incredible in-line six-cylinder engines introduced in the mid-60s - it was still losing important market segments, overwhelmed by Japanese competitors. This led to a temporary break in production.

In 1989 there was hope of a revival with the backing of Pesaro-based manufacturer Giancarlo Selci. But the time still wasn't right for a real comeback.

In 1995 revival of the brand with the glorious history became a real possibility when Andrea Merloni took charge. Results were fast in coming with the launch of the marvellous Tornado 900 Tre super sport bike in 2002 and the current launch of the TNT, the explosive roadster.

If the Tornado brought an air of technical and aesthetic innovation to the motorcycle industry, we can certainly say that the TNT will hit it like a bomb.


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