Italian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

BRM Motorcycle Engines

A Brief History of the Marque

Manufactured: 1954-1958 [1], Via Panfilo Sassi, 21, Modena

The BRM story is quite interesting.

The name is formed from the initals of the company, Bellentani Riccardo Modena. Ricardo Bellentani was the founder of the company which built very reputable engines exported in quantity and sold to other firms including the Dutch firm Derby, who marketed their mopeds as Derby Ferrari and claimed a strong connection with the Ferrari factory in that the engines were built in the Ferrari factory and designed by Ferrari's chief designer, "Ballentina".

There is a germ of truth in this. Riccardo had in fact worked with Ferrari, but his brother Vittorio Bellentani was chief designer there. Vittorio, who had aided his brother in establishing BRM, worked with Ferrari before and during the war, before moving to Maserati and then back to Ferrari in 1955. He also managed the technical aspects of BRM when time and opportunity permitted.

The BRM engines were not designed by Vittorio but by Umberto Dalvacchio, who also built engines for Taurus and later gained fame as the light behind Alessandro de Tomaso's Benelli six, with whom there are other connections dating back to de Tomaso's racing days.

Derby had approached Ferrari about an engine and were referred to BRM, and the quite brilliant Umberto (nicknamed Cirillo) produced for them a miniature masterpiece.

So in fact there was quite a strong connection between BRM and Ferrari, and Derby added a generous pinch of spice to the story.

The BRM team attracted a star-studded cast, Gino Bartali among them, and built engines for another famous cyclist, Fausto Coppi.

As well as producing some 5 to 6 thousand engines per month for export to Germany and the Netherlands, they built the B series engines for local consumption.

Riccardo died young, but the firm continued and maintained a close association with Vittorio, who had formed his own company which worked closely with Ferrari. Then along came the Fiat 500, and the Italian motorcycle industry was thrown into chaos.

There was also a racing BRM sidecar ridden by Steve Webster and Paul Woodhead which is not related (British Racing Motors), and a BRM by Puzey of South Africa which is also unrelated.

Notes. 1. Possibly built until 1959.

Sources:; Maserati by Dante Candini; et al.

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