It's a great story. It all started back in 1970, when Mel had a TV store where he sold & repaired television sets. Not to common a thing now. Mel always had a great interest in Harleys and he came up with the idea of using a British carburetor found on some British cars, like Jags, & MG's, on the Harley v twin engine. This carb was known as the S.U. (abbreviation for Skinners Union), and after Mel applied his magic to the base carb, it worked better than anything available at the time. He would do the rework of the carb at his garage and then take the finished carb to the TV shop to sell. Mel's customers ranged from a little old lady looking for a TV set to a big, burly biker looking for a new carb to make his Harley go faster!
Things went really well for Mel's endeavor with the carb, so in 1973 he started Rivera Engineering, working full time out of his garage in Pico Rivera, California. Although things were looking good for Mel's new carburetor business, it still was not enough to pay the rent. Always an innovator, to supplement his income Mel got into the Sea Urchin fishing business with his long time friend John Ventriglia. This was not the money maker that Mel thought it would be, and after John sunk the trawler, he decided it was time to quit the urchin business.
In 1976, Mel sold his 1960 Jag XK150and used the money from the sale to fly to Birmingham, England. He tried to try persuade the SU Factory to sell him direct for use on motorcycles, and with his usual flair for negotiation he succeeded! 1978 was a busy year for Mel. He received his first shipment of 100 S.U. carburetors direct from the English factory and purchased Primo Belt Drives. In 1979 Mel & John moved the business from the tiny garage to a 2 room building located next to Whittier Harley Davidson in Whittier, CA. and then business really started to take off!
Mel was always an inventive individual and in the course of his life received many patents on a variety of products for Harley motorcycles. On Oct. 14th, 1980 he received his first U.S. patent on an innovative 'tickler pump' which resolved a hard starting condition of the S.U. carb.
Over the course of 35 years, Mel helped thousands of people do things that they loved. He had a zeal for drag racing and helped scores of racers, including one of his best friends, Jim McClure, reach their dreams. He was a selfless and extremely modest individual that never expected anything in return from the many people he helped. He built his company into one of the most trusted and respected names in our industry, by adhering to a strong work ethic and not taking shortcuts or the easy way. He had a very simple philosophy; Treat people the way he himself would like to be treated.
He was a friend, a mentor and a father to all who knew or worked for him. His physical being is now gone, but his memory has made an indelible impression and will be with us all for a lifetime. God speed Mel as you ride into the sunset to your final destination.
Mel is survived by his loving wife & friend Marilyn and a myriad of loving children and grandchildren.
Mel's family is requesting that in lieu of flowers donations be made "In Memory of Mel Magnet" to either:
Shriners Hospital for Children
2900 Rocky Point Dr.
Tampa, FL 33607-1435
Hospice of Presbyterian
12401 Washington Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90602-1099
(Make check payable to PIH Foundation but memo line should state that the donation is specifically for Hospice)