Montesa's history goes back to the year 1944 when Pere Permanyer Puigjaner began to produce gas powered generators for automobiles. The gas generator industry was characteristic of life after the Civil War period in Spain.
During the Spanish Civil War, Pedro Permanyer took over as manager of a repair and workshop for vehicles which were utilised by the Air Force. Permanyer was placed in charge of the workshop of soldiers who were bench hands, mechanics, millers, body workers, carpenters and assembly workers. The German DKW two-stroke motor was of special interest to the young Pere Permanyer Puigjaner, and became the basis of his many subsequent projects and by 1939, after the end of the civil war, he set up a mechanical workshop.
During World War II, which was also the time of Spanish reconstruction after the Civil War, the fuel shortage had paralyzed most Spanish transportation as well as the use of his company's generators.
By the end of World War II, Permanyer realised that the fuel supplies would return to a normal level and he would have to point his industry away from gas generators.
After making modifications during 1945, Pere Permanyer Puigjaner's first motorcycle prototype was ready to race but unfortunately due to a faulty starter, the motorcycle would not complete its inaugural race.
But thanks to Manuel Giró, who was an importer of Bosch fly wheels, production of Pere's first 100 motorcycles hit the assembly line.
By 1945 he had 3 new motorcycle designs to show at the Barcelona Trade Fair, and a decision had been made to call the trade mark, Montesa.
Mixing the sporting spirit along with adventure together with the need to test their motorcycles had Montesa jumping in head first into a 1945 hill climb to the Caldes de Bohí Balneary, where as of that time no motorised vehicles had ever gone before.
Thanks to the successful hill climb and the fact that Montesa already had an assembly line set up, the first unit appeared on the market by the end of 1945.
Montesa with out a doubt was the first motorcycle manufacturer in Spain and so by 1946 Montesa was devoted to increasing and improving their line of production thanks to a growing demand of their Spanish motorcycles.
By 1947, thanks to the growing demand for the Montesa line of Spanish Motorcycles, Montesa needed a newer and larger assembly line, so a plan was set into motion to bring about the finances, but that plan was never realised as their major supporter backed out at the last moment, forcing Montesa to have to drop the entire deal and look into other possibilities.
By 1959 in order to overcome their need for managing the growing demand for their motorcycles, Montesa decided to lease a large three-storey building in Barcelona, where the new Montesa factory was set up and it had a greater expansion potential allowing the company to supply their demand. The same year, Montesa also leased another location for their company headquarters, to allow for their offices to be in a more appropriate location as to allow for more sales
During the 1950's, Montesa started to see a rise in exports by a substantial amount to a number of different countries throughout Europe, South America and the United States.
But by 1958 the National Stabilisation Plan, which was brought around by the Spanish government, which was extremely restrictive was also used to reduce the country's inflation as well as eliminate the public deficit. These general cutbacks led to a restructuring of Montesa Motorcycles, which was also the case for many of the other prosperous Spanish countries as well. Permanyer, under the intimidating circumstances, proposed a plan in which Montesa was to limit the structural costs and this decision would also add some effect to Montesa Motorcycle's racing department which was used as a first provisional measure where by Montesa was forced to suspend its activities.
Then in 1959 Montesa witnessed their first shipment of motorcycles to Japan, this new ability to export was considered a great milestone in the Montesa Motorcycle's company history as Japan was, by then, a world power in exports and was considered to be a domestically impregnable location for any other exporting countries.
At one point in time there had been a rumour which was flying around then that the Japanese technicians were more than eager to test the Montesa motorcycles in Japan in order to examine them more closely and to eventually reverse engineer some, if not all, of their motorcycle's details.
1961 saw a new cornerstone in Montesa Motorcycle history as the decision had been made to build their new factory that they had been planning for quite some time. Manufacturing at their new factory officially began in 1962, and by mid 1963 the locations was officially opened and in attendance were all the authorities who were necessary to the new Montesa Factory. This new factory, which had a measurement of 10,000 square meters, was designed by two renowned Spanish architects, Correa and Milá, who had used pre-fabricated materials which for that time were a new addition to the construction field.
A Montesa motorcycle was utilised in a commercialised crossing of the African Continent, from Cape Town to Cairo and which under the conditions of that time period, was considered to be an adventure of epic proportions. The media was there to cover the event very closely. Montesa Motorcycles used three "Impala" prototypes that they had painstakingly prepared. With a little assistance from a Land-Rover, the adventure kicked off officially on January 15th, 1962 and took an enormous 1000 days to cross the 20,000 kilometres needed to complete the adventure, which luckily the Montesa prototypes encountered no problems other than a few minor incidents along the way. These minor incidents were caused by the inhospitable terrain, jungles and plains since the entire trip's route was planned along an area without any roads of any kind and the riders and motorcycles would have to face a myriad of all kinds of risks along the way.
1963 was considered to be a brilliant year in terms of sports victories for the Montesa race teams when Montesa racer, Jordi Sirera became the 175 cc Spanish Speed Champion and another rider, José Mª Busquets, became the 250 cc champion.
Two brothers Jordi and Enric Sirera who rode a 250 cc Montesa Impala Sport won the Montjuich 24 Hour Rally and another Montesa team consisting of Carlos Rocamora and Juan Ramón López de la Torre managed to come in second on a 175 cc Montesa Impala.
An American importer by the name of Kim began the import of the Impala 175 Cross in 1963, which was by then called the "Scrambler" as it was the American version of the motorcycle. Initially using his own garage Kim Kimball then expanded to a larger location shortly after he started to offer the motorcycle to the American Public. Kim Kimball also began to participate in desert trials which did an excellent job of making the Montesa trademark known in the United States.
Pedro Permanyer, who was a big fan of the space race, first learned that Neil Armstrong was an avid motorcycle enthusiast, he then decided immediately that he was going to give this famous astronaut a gift, and left him a brand new Montesa Motorcycle at his front door step where it sat and awaited Neil Armstrong's return from the moon.
By 1965 Montesa Motorcycles had made a decision to penetrate into the moped market before their utilitarian model would decline in sales as per a forecast made by the company. The Ciclo Montesa, was their first moped which featured a 50 cc motor attached to a 3-speed manual gearbox.
By 1968, Montesa wanted to change the look of their motorcycles and to do so he began the production of the 360 GP and the Cappra 250 which was a clearly different design from their popular Impala line.
With trial racing becoming a very popular sport, especially in Great Britain, where the competition's season begins at the start of the fall which also coincided with the end of the speed and motocross competitions, Montesa saw it as an opportunity for the major sports figures as well as the enthusiasts to keep busy during the winter months with a bit of healthy competition, Montesa decided to launch a new trial-bike line.
In 1964 the International Federation sent an invitation to several of the major European federations to participate in a trial bike course located in Grenoble, so as to help promote Trial racing all around Europe and Montesa Motorcycles were there participating in the event with their new lines.
The first Montesa trial bike that was manufactured on their assembly line which was to be later showcased at the 1967 Motorcycle Industry Exposition in Barcelona, was a 250 cc trial bike that was such a limited production that only 44 units were ever made. Over the entire summer, training for the winter's trial bike season was so intensive, but Montesa only had one goal in mind which was to reach their optimum potential by the beginning of that year's season. Montesa motorcycles had their competitive trial motorcycle which was released to the public under the commercial name of the Cota 247, which featured an innovative design with its fuel tank and seat integrated together was awarded the Delta de Plata Industrial Adi-Fad design prize.
On Montesa Motorcycle's 25th Anniversary, Pere Permanyer had decided that in commemoration to the company's amazing feats in the motorcycle industry; he would commission a sculptor named José María Subirats to make a sculpture and monument, for the front court of the Montesa factory. When finished, the monument had all the signatures of every Montesa employee and was composed of parts from almost every motorcycle they had produced that was welded together and held in place by two rectangular columns which listed the names of the all the models Montesa had manufactured.
The financial situation for the Montesa Motorcycle Company had become critical and all their investments into new models had to be halted so that the company could finally suspend payments for all their loans by the end of 1983 because of this decision, Montesa managed to have a very solid commercial and industrial organisation and it avoided the almost inevitable closing of their factory doors by signing an agreement with the Honda Motor Corporation which allowed them to reincorporate under the new name called Montesa Honda S.A. Thanks to this agreement, Honda had been committed to the marketing of new special models of their popular Cota 125 cc, 200 cc and 349 cc motorcycles which were manufactured under the MH mark and sold throughout Europe thanks to Honda's sales market.
Original Authors: Nicholas
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 05/06/2008