Luigi Taveri : a long and brilliant career
Swiss rider Luigi Taveri was born on 19 September 1929 in Horgen, near Zürich, on the lake shore. He started his racing career in 1954, first in the 500cc class as a privateer on a Norton, and finished in 4th place at the French Grand Prix Reims. He also scored 3 points in the 250cc class with a 4th place in the Swiss Grand Prix in Bremgarten on a Moto-Guzzi. As from 1955 he would be racing as official rider for several manufacturers (MV Agusta, Ducati and MZ) until the end of 1960.
In 1955, riding for MV Agusta in the 125 and 250cc classes, he finished respectively 2nd and 4th in the Championship, with a win in the 125cc Spanish GP and in the 250 Dutch GP. In 1956 he was 2nd in the 250cc and 3rd in the 125cc with a win in the 250cc Ulster GP. In 1957 he won again in the Ulster GP but 125cc, and took the second place in the Championship. In 1958, he went to Ducati in the 125cc and he ended in 3rd. In 1959 he raced with a 125cc MZ in the Tourist Trophy and finished in second, but he soon went back to Ducati (and Mike Hailwood) and finished 4th in the Championship. For the 1960 season he was back on MV Agusta again, but with team mates such as Carlo Ubbiali and Gary Hocking it was difficult to get a win, and he finished third in the 250cc and 6th in the 125cc.
Then he made the big jump to Honda, and it was a good move. He won the 125cc title three times, in 1962 (with six wins), 1964 (with five wins) and 1966 – his last racing year (with 5 wins). It was actually a never-ending battle between four stroke engine (Honda) and two-stroke engine (Suzuki, who won in 1963 and 1965) and Yamaha (1967 and 1968). On the picture, Luigi Taveri is racing the 1966 125cc five-cylinder 4-stroke Honda. This means that each cylinder had a bit less than 25cc of cubic capacity - at the origin of the nickname “cup of coffee”.
Text: Marc Pétrier – Photo: FIM/Maurice Büla Collection