Before Benelli became a Chinese company ... No. That is bland. Since a lot of Harley, BMW and Triumph stuff from Asia is no longer a joke on China.
And that Asians are such seasoned counterfeiters? Well, the Laverda 750 twins are anabolic Honda CB72-77s and the Benelli 500 cc four-cylinder is an almost flawless copy of the Honda CB 500 F.
DeBenelli 500 four-cylinder: The beginning
In August 1971, like Moto Guzzi's, Benelli was bought by the Argentinian car manufacturer Alejandro de Tomaso. That man had a shameful amount of money and the biggest plans of which the ending of Japanese force majeure in the heavy classes was the main point. De Tomaso wanted the Italian motorcycle industry to become the world's most important motorcycle industry again. Like that should be. He wanted to realize that quickly, so there was no time to develop new engines himself. The block of the proven good Honda 500 cc OHC was therefore in fact simply copied. But there was also an absolute topper, and that became the 500 cc four-cylinder x 1,5 :, the Benelli 750 Sei six-cylinder. Another cylinder was added on both sides, creating an 750 cc six-cylinder engine. This engine was already finished in 1972, but the frame development took longer now. That is something tyoic Italian. The Benelli 750 Sei was only shown to the press at the end of 1974. In the meantime, all that 1973 cc four-cylinder, the Benelli 500 Quattro, had come onto the market in 500.
Clean lines, high prices
Paolo Martin was hired as a designer for all that news. Martin came from the car design studio Ghia, and had already worked for Bertone and Pininfarina. He designed very modern and clean lines for the sheet metal work of both Benelli models, but the engine blocks still looked very much like those of Honda. The performance and reliability of both models were disappointing and, moreover, they were too expensive, also in production. New models were still being developed, such as the 125 cc two-cylinder two-stroke 125 Cross and 125 Enduro and an 250 cc two-cylinder two-stroke, the Benelli 2C, but that was all 'light stuff' for the southern European markets.
In 1975 came the 250 Quattro, designed by car designer Pierangelo Andreani, the successor to Paolo Martin. That was a wonderful piece of art. An endearing scale model. No sales success. A few lighter models followed based on the four-cylinder, the 350 RS (1976) and the 354 (1978). In 1979 two upgraded versions of the 500 and the 750, the 504 Sport and the 900 Sei followed. In 1978, however, both Honda (CBX 1000) and Kawasaki (Z 1300) had already presented their six-cylinder engines, making the 900 Sei just as hopeless as its predecessor.
Soon the production at Benelli only consisted of Moto Guzzi's, the most important brand for the Tomaso. Some models were released by both brands. The Benelli 2C was also the Moto Guzzi 250 TS, the 250 Quattro resembled the Moto Guzzi 254 and the 500 Quattro was just a Moto Guzzi 400 GTS. But those Benelli 500s? They have never taken it beyond a curiosity value. And the original, the CB500 F was much better. Its a shame, but there is nothing to do about it.