Aermacchi-Harley-Davidson 1966 “Sprint” 246 cc OHV single frame & engine # 66H12400/E
Aermacchi originates as an Italian aircraft manufacturer. Formerly known as Aeronautica Macchi, the company is founded in 1912 by Giulio Macchi at Varese in north-western Lombardy as Nieuport-Macchi, to build Nieuport monoplanes under license for the Italian military. After World War II, the company begins producing utility three-wheelers and motorcycles as a way to fill the post-war need for cheap, efficient transportation. Aermacchi’s first ‘proper’ motorcycle, the two-stroke Monsone, appears in 1950, but it is not until 1956 that the firm’s trademark horizontally mounted four-stroke single makes its debut in the 175cc enclosed bodywork Chimera. In 1959 a more conventional sporting version comes on the market in the form of the 246cc “Ala Azurra”, meaning “Blue Wing”. It is designed by Aermacchi’s chief engineer, Alfredo Bianchi. The pushrod OHV engine has a cylinder that is positioned at 165 degrees, a four speed gearbox (later a five speed box was fitted) and a multiple wet clutch. Bore and stroke are initially 66×72 mm. In 1960 Harley-Davidson buys a 50% share in the company: With the Japanese motorcycle invasion taking hold, the company needs something competitive in the small bike segment. The options: further development of their 165cc two-stroke single or a completely new design — or buy a turnkey business. Aermacchi fits the bill to a tee: they build the sturdy and competent Ala Azurra with good performance and lots of development potential. Better yet, Aermacchi’s parent company wants to focus on its airplane business, and is keen to get rid of its bike operations. The American factory assumes complete control in 1974 but sells Aermacchi to Cagiva in 1978. The Sprint is the first model specifically aimed at the American market. Its basis is the Azurra, but from 1963 on the specifications of the Ala Verde (Green Wing) are used: compression ratio 8.5:1, power development 16 hp @ 6,500 rpm, top speed 140 km, weight 114 kg. The petrol consumption is a very modest 3.5 litres per 100 km.
The machine we present here is an older restoration that has been part of a static collection for quite some time so she will benefit from a good general checkup.