We think of Honda’s run of six consecutive Motorcycle Grand Prix Championships in the 1990s as majorly impressive, and no doubt it was. From Mick Doohan’s 1994 title, to Àlex Crivillé taking home the big prize in 1999, if you wanted to win the biggest championship in all of motorcycle racing throughout most of the ‘90s, you’d needed to be on a factory Honda.
Honda’s six-peat was the longest premier-class GP winning streak of any Japanese maker. Yamaha never won more than three straight and Suzuki only twice managed back-to-back. Kawasaki? Never mind.
But even Honda’s amazing run pales in comparison to MV Agusta’s jaw dropping streak of 17 consecutive 500cc Grand Prix Championships. You read that right – 17!
Starting with John Surtees in 1958, MV won the GP title straight through to 1974 with Phil Read. Think about that for a moment. If you were born when MV Agusta won its first 500cc GP title, you were just about to graduate from high school before that streak ended.
America went through five presidents during that time span. Suit-wearing, martini drinking crooners like Perry Como and Dean Martin topped the charts when the streak began and by the time it was ended it was Elton John stomping around stage on his (Keith Code made) platform shoes doing the Crocodile Rock.
MV Agusta also proved that simply winning races and championships doesn’t necessarily insure success. When Count Domenico Agusta died in 1971, the guiding light of the company since 1927 was gone. By the end of the 1970s the dictates of public financing meant motorcycles were not in the company’s future and shortly afterwards the original company that won in all, 38 world championships, ceased motorcycle production.