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Alessandro Anzani was a pioneering Italian motorcyclist, engineer and mechanic, who founded his own engine manufacturing company.
He was born in December 1877 in Gorla Primo (Italy)] and died on 23 July 1956 in Merville-Franceville (Calvados), France.
He arrived in France at some time between 1900 and 1903, and engaged in cycle and motorcycle racing.
1906 Started his own engine manufacturing company in Asnières. He intially built motorcycle engines, with 2 opposed cylinders and with 3 radial cylinders (initially in 'fan' form, and finally in 'star' form.
1907 The workshops were moved to Courbevoie at the end of 1907. The first engines to come out were single and twin-cylinder motorcycles (350 and 500 cc) in the tradition of Buchet engines. (Anzani had been employed by Gentil et Cie, and was seconded to Etablissements Buchet as a develop engineer).
1908 Produced various new motorcycle engines, which were then adapted for aviation, being ordered first by the Caudron brothers and then by Louis Blériot. Bleriot used it for his first flight on 31 October 31 from Toury (Eure-et-Loir) to Artenay (Loiret), then to cross the English Channel on 25 July 1909.
Alessandro Anzani's 3 cylinder engines were influenced by the Buchet 3-cylinder engine designed by J. A. Farcot.
Before the First World War Anzani was producing a range of V-form and radial engines with up to 20 cylinders. However the rival Gnome engine became much more popular.
1911 Increasing demand led Anzani to establish a British branch, then a factory, first at Willesden, and then moving to Kingston-upon-Thames. The British sibsidiary, the British Anzani Engine Company, was established on 20 November 1912. A. M. Ramsay was the Manager. They provided 10-cylinder 100 HP engines for the British Caudron G-3 and several other aircraft during the war.
After WW1 the French company ceased trading, while the British company, with Chief Engineer Charles Henry Harrison continued in business. Alessandro Anzani turned his attention back to motorcycles.
In 1923 he sold the company to Henry Potez. In the same year he gained a world motorcycle speed record with Claude Temple at Brooklands using a British Anzani engine.
See also here for the 'British Anzani Archive'.