Founded in 1950, Italian company Cagiva was initially manufacturing metallic components. Although it didn't get a foothold in the motorcycle market for another twenty years, the Cagiva racing team was created in 1978. The first Cagiva drivers, Gianfranco Bonera and Marco Lucchinelli, rode two bikes of red and silver color. A few months later, the company obtained the Schiranna plant from Harley-Davidson Italy and kicked off motorcycle production. At the end of 1979, Cagiva had a staff of some 150 employees and produced 40,000 bikes per year. The HD Cagiva line featured eight two-stroke engine models, from 125 cc to 350 cc.
In the '80s, the company decided to expand its manufacturing range by starting to make dirt bikes with powerful engines. The first models were tested by Ron Turner and Duane Summers. Around the same time, Randy Mamola brought Cagiva the first podium victory. Another champion, Eddie Lawson, joined the team at the beginning of the '90s and, a year later, took home the Hungarian Grand Prix prize. In the 1994 World Championship, Kocinski repeated his success, winning the third position.
In 1983, Cagiva gained access to the large-displacement market after inking an exclusive deal with Ducati for using its 350cc and 1000cc four-stroke engines. The following years were marked by several important acquisitions as the company began to obtain its rivals who were having financial difficulties: Ducati, Husqvarna and Moto Morini. In 1986, Cagiva execs formed another company, Cagiva Commeriale S.p.A, which was selling Cagiva, Ducati, Husqvarna and Moro Morini motorcycles. A year later, the company founded the Cagiva Research Centre in San Marino and built a new facility for steel and aluminum frame manufacture in 1990 in Morazzone. Cagiva bought MV Agusta in 1991, but had to sell Ducati and Moto Morini in 1996. However, the acquisition of MV Augusta turned out to be a huge step forward and brought the company to the peak of success as sales of F4 Oro, a new model presented in Milan International salon, kept growing. That led to important restructuring. In 1999, Cagiva launched a new factory in Cassinetta di Biandronno. The company shifted its focus from Cagiva and Husqvarna to MV Augusta, which became its main brand. After that, the Spanish bike maker debuted some Cagiva models at the Milan International Salon, including such legendary motorcycles as the Raptor, V-Raptor and Navigator.1 - 25
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