Skip to content


Imagine if Marc Marquez got jack of waiting for HRC to fix the handling on his RCV213V and hired a local frame guru to improve it. That was what Mike Hailwood did in the 1960s

Ago’s MV and Hailwood’s Honda were the pinnacle of 1960s 500cc multi-cylinder four-stroke design. The world’s two best riders took their MV-Honda duel in the 500cc class to new heights in 1967. Their Isle of Man TT battle that year was a classic. Hailwood’s narrow win over Ago was also accompanied by a lap record that would stand well into the next decade.

The rest of the season was no less exciting with the pair ending on equal points and the same number of race victories (five each). With more minor podium placings, Ago was declared the champion.

Hailwood was signed up for 1968 but Honda suddenly announced its withdrawal from GP racing entirely just before the season started. It would stay away from GPs for nearly 10 years. This was a bizarre situation for both the world sport and Hailwood, who would end up being paid big bucks not to race in Grands Prix. Imagine Honda doing that to Marc Marquez today?

Meanwhile, in anticipation of taking the elusive 500cc crown for Honda in 1968 (a feat it didn’t achieve until nearly 20 years later), Hailwood had already stepped outside the square of convention.

Late in 1967 he commissioned fellow Brit Ken Sprayson to build his own version of Honda’s legendary four-cylinder 500. It was almost a winner first-time out and became one of GP’s greatest ‘could-have-been’ stories.

Check out the full story in Vol 69 No 19