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Giancarlo Morbidelli, founder of the legendary Morbidelli motorcycle brand, has died at the age of 86 in his hometown of Pesaro, Italy.

Morbidelli, a former racer, founded his company in the late 1960s to build wooden coach bodies for automobiles. He started racing in 1969 with his company’s own 50cc machine.

News of his death coincided with an announcement by Bonhams that a selection of 200 post-war road and racing motorcycles from the Morbidelli Motorcycle Museum, also in Pesaro, were to be the centrepiece of Bonhams’ Spring Stafford Sale, 25-26 April.

The collection was built up and curated by Giancarlo, the museum’s founder, and specialises in Italian marques including Benelli and Ducati.

“They represent the passion of the farmer’s son and former woodworking machinist who, while building up a successful engineering firm as his day job, spent his spare time tuning, racing and later building his own motorcycles,” said Bonhams.

The top lot is a 1964 Ducati 125cc 4-cylinder Grand Prix racing motorcycle, estimate £400,000 – 600,000

Giancarlo’s son, motor racing driver Gianni, said of his father: “He was a genius with bikes. He did everything by himself, working in a very small room."

The Morbidelli family will retain ownership of the majority of the Morbidelli Grand Prix motorcycles, including the world championship winning ‘giant killer’ 125cc and 250cc examples, raced respectively by Paoli Pileri, Pierpaolo Bianchi and Lego Mario, which saw off competition from international corporations.