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MOTO MORINI CORSARO 1200 ZZ | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

Moto Morini has come back from the dead so often it gets Frequent Flyer miles at the Pearly Gates – and it’s back again – if indeed it ever went away

Even by Italian motorcycle the Italian Roadster Cup series for naked industry standards, Moto Morini – founded in 1937 – has had more lives than lasagna-loving Garfield the Cat or any of his other feline friends.

In modern times it has involved the Bologna-based company going through the hands of the Castiglioni brothers when they owned Ducati, but before reviving MV Agusta. They shut Morini down to make a real estate killing by bulldozing its factory and redeveloping the land, only for the brand to be revived in 2003 in a joint venture between the Morini family and the local cash-rich Berti brothers.

This led to the company’s former chief engineer, Franco Lambertini, creator of the classic 31⁄2 model’s Heron-headed V-twin motor, designing the all-new 1187cc 87o V-twin CorsaCorta engine. That powered the Corsaro (‘pirate’ in Italian), the reborn marque’s first model, a naked streetfighter in 2006, and later a family of spinoff models including the 91⁄2 and 11.5 roadsters, Granpasso adventure tourer and Scrambler – well, street scrambler.

These earned a reputation for muscular performance and mechanical reliability, which saw the Corsaro win numerous magazine shootouts against twin- and three-cylinder competition, as well as allowing Franco Zenatello to twice win sportbikes in 2009-10, consistently beating its Aprilia, Suzuki, MV Agusta, Triumph, Buell, Benelli, KTM, Honda and, yes, Ducati rivals. Indeed, the Moto Morini CorsaCorta motor was the first of the new-gen 1200cc V-twin engines, setting a trend followed by Ducati and others that was subsequently recognised in the World Superbike capacity rules.

Having re-established Moto Morini with sound products and corporate structure, the Bertis accepted an offer for the business in January 2007, transferring their half of the partnership to the Morini family, and exiting the industry. Good timing for them but disastrous for the family, as the global downturn a year later stalled the company’s growth and sent it into the red.

Moto Morini was closed again in 2010, by which point 4000 bikes had been built during five years of born-again existence. A peak of 1600 were made in a single year, albeit with high customer satisfaction for the essentially hand-built product.

After narrowly escaping the clutches of Paolo Berlusconi, brother of former Italian prime minister Silvio, Morini was sold by the liquidator in 2011 for €1.96 million minus the freehold of the Motori Franco Morini factory in Bologna, which had been its base since it was revived.

Read the full story in the current issue of AMCN (Vol 67  No 07) on sale now!

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PHOTOGRAPHY BEPPE VERTEM