In 1968, the wide-case 350-cc Mark 3 Desmo was the fastest production Ducati one could buy, with 103 mph on tap, or 112 mph with a noisier megaphone pipe. There were several options: high touring bars instead of clip-ons and even a racing kit with more radical camshaft, fairing a range of main jets and megaphone exhaust.
The bike was unmistakable with early examples having twin filler caps on the fuel tank and the white-faced Veglia tachometer on the right fork crown. The fuel tank was chrome plated on the sides, with a metal Ducati badge, and the headlight and fenders were chrome plated.
When the 450-cc engine was introduced in 1969, the range was redesigned somewhat, with a square-slide Dell’Orto carburettor replacing the previous SS1, a single filler cap fuel tank and individual speedometer and tachometer, instead of the headlight-mounted speedo in the 1968 model. A cut-off Silentium exhaust silencer replaced the bullet exhaust.
Cycle magazine tested the 250-, 350- and 450-cc models imported to the U.S. and reported that the 250-cc and 450-cc engines had a wide power band, while the 350-cc was basically a bottle-rocket, with power coming on with a rush at 6,500 rpm. Not surprisingly, the 450 cc was fastest through a quarter-mile at 16.6 seconds, but the 350 did it in 17.6 seconds, and that was cut to 15.15 seconds with a megaphone exhaust, suggesting that the Silentium pipe restricted the bikes performance significantly.
By 1991, the Ducati 888 had won 23 World Superbike races and had only been beaten once. Doug Polen on his Fast by Ferracci bike won 17 races and even held the outright lap record at Jarama for a significant period. World Super Bike had become a huge spectator sport, with recognisable machines that riding fans could relate to, and the 888-cc V-twin Ducatis were dominating the 750-cc four-cylinder Kawasakis, Hondas and Suzukis.
Giancarlo Falappa joined the Ducati team in 1990 after a year with Bimota where he finished 6th in the WSB series, scoring three wins. Known as the “Lion of Jesi” (pronounced “Lesi”) for his hometown, Falappa was a bold and charismatic rider, and 1992 would be his best year in WSBK.
Falappa won four of the 26 WSB races in 1992, in a fearsome riding style developed in motocross, where he got his start. Many of Falappa’s best performances can be seen on video, including leaning on Scott Russell in a corner towards the end of the first race at Spa as well as the close-run battle with future champion Carl Fogarty at Assen, which he followed with a wheelie victory lap.
Hit the jump for more information on the Ducati 888 SBK Corsa.
A classic 1974 Ducati 750 SS Corsa was presented to an auction by a private seller. The bike has an estimated price of € 40.000 - € 60.000 and was prepared at Reparto Corse Ducati with the help of Franco Farne and is Carlo Saltarelli’s own 750 SS which he campaigned as a privateer in both 1974 and 1975. The model was painted grey in 1974, then carrying race number 43, and then repainted white and red, carrying number 23.
The frame and engine numbers suggest this machine left the factory as a 750GT and was up-rated to the competition specification in period. The comprehensive specification includes Marzocchi front forks, adjustable rear Marzocchi shocks, Scarab brakes, Veglia competition tachometer, Tommaselli handlebars, front oil cooler, competition exhaust, competition camshafts, twin Dell’Orto PHM 40-mm carburettors, lightweight clutch, lightweight pistons and Borrani rims.
Hit the jump for more information on the Ducati 750 SS Corsa’s history.
A reserve bike prepared by NCR for Hailwood in the 1979 was put on sale by a private owner with an estimated price of €20.000-€30.000. The body of the bike was NCR, the engine was up-rated, but the frame was a standard 900 SS.
The bike has Brembo brakes, Marzocchi forks and Marzocchi rear shocks. It has a Veglia competition tachometer, twin Dell’Orto PHM 40-mm carburettors, front oil cooler, Campagnolo wheels oil pressure gauge, Verlicchi handlebars and light clutch.
All enthusiasts know the story of Mike Hailwood’s return to the Isle of Man TT races in 1978 and his success on the Steve Wynne Ducati 900 SS, which led to Ducati’s first World Championship.
At 110.62 mph, Hailwood broke Phil Read’s lap record by nine mph on the way to an immensely popular victory. He followed up with a win at Mallory Park the next weekend, a crash at Donington and a 3rd place at Silverstone against much faster opposition. Ducati was thrilled with the TT result and promised to build Mike Hailwood replicas and also give Hailwood a factory bike for the 1979 TT.
Hailwood tested the 1979 F1 bike at Misano but crashed before any changes could be made, cracking two ribs. After numerous delays, Ducati sent two NCR endurance race bikes to England; one was an endurance machine, and the other was a TT1 variant with a wet clutch engine. Wynne tried numerous modifications—even fitting the 1978 frame—but the bikes could not produce enough power and handled poorly. The best Hailwood could do was 5th place in the TT, and he declined to ride the endurance bike in any other races.
The mid-’70s were not kind to Ducati. The company discontinued the excellent 250/350/450 singles and 750 round-case GT, Sport and Super Sport and tinkered with clumsy parallel twins, as well as the valve-spring 860GT and 900GTS. This left die-hard customers to kick-start the brutal 900 Super Sport Desmo twin for the Ducati experience. Surely, there had to be some middle ground… That finally emerged in 1978 with the Darmah 900 Sport Desmo, designed by Tartarini, and it became the company’s mainstay for five years. It was a detuned 900 SS, with smaller carbs, an electric start, two-up seat, Bosch electronic ignition, Nippon Denso gauges, warning lights and Bosch headlight and indicators. Best of all, the price was very competitive with the Japanese bikes.
Another twist appeared in 1979 when the Darmah SS was introduced. With handsome two-tone paint, it was only made from 1979-81. The 900 SS Darmah is a collectible machine today and its estimated price is €8.000-€10.000.
Specifications: 864 cc SOHC Desmo V-twin, five speeds.
The mid-’70s were not kind to Ducati, which had discontinued its 250/350/450 singles and round-case 750 GT, Sport and Super Sport and had pinned its hopes on parallel twins, the non-Desmo 860 GT and 900 GTS. The 900 Super Sport had passionate adherents but needed to have broader appeal. That happened in 1977 with the Darmah 900 Sport Desmo, which was the company’s mainstay for five years. It was a detuned 900 SS, with smaller 32-mm carbs, an electric start, two-up seat, Bosch electronic ignition, Nippon Denso gauges, warning lights, headlights and indicators. Best of all, the price was competitive with Japanese bikes. People remember the 900 Super Sport fondly, but the Darmah is probably more historically important.
One of these original bikes was presented at an auction wearing an attractive black and gold paint job for the fairing and wheels. It is from the second production run, complete with luggage storage.
The Ducati Paso first came to life in 1984 after the Cagiva brothers officially took over Ducati . Concerned that the company lacked enough product models, the new owners approached Massimo Tamburini, recently the “ta” of Bimota. They asked him to build a bike that came with a revised square-tube frame that was developed for Yamaha’s FJ1100. And so, the Ducati Paso was born.
The Paso was designed to carry a rear cylinder that was rotated so that a single Weber 44DCNF 107 carburetor could control both cylinders. In 1991, Mikuni carburettors were substituted and finally replaced by a Weber Marelli fuel injection from the 851. Unlike some of the Italian bike maker’s enduring models, the Paso line didn’t last very long as the model was discontinued in 1992.
This particular model, a 1991 907IE Desmo, is the final version of the Paso. It has a 904 cc fuel-injected SOHC Desmo V-twin engine mated to a six-speed transmission and 17" wheels replacing the undesirable 16" size, which turned in too sharply. The bike is in good original condition and with an aftermarket exhaust, it’s got some life left.
The bike was auctioned off at the 2012 RM Auction in Monaco. Estimated bid price for the bike was at €2,800 - €3,800 ($3,400 - $4,700 at the current rates), although it was only sold for €2,048 ($2,500 at the current rates).
In 1985, a new era for Ducati began after ownership was transferred from the Italian Government EFIM Group to Cagiva, based in Varese in Northern Italy. Under Cagiva, Ducati’s first all-new model was the Paso Desmo.
The Paso was designed to generate a broader public appeal, one that would spearhead a new generation of bikes that would allow Ducati to reinvent itself. The Paso made use of a 748cc SOHC Desmo V-twin engine that came mated to a six-speed transmission.
In addition, the Paso came with plenty of significant changes, including the reversed rear cylinder head to allow the installation of a dual-throat automotive-style Weber carburetor. The bike also had a box-section steel frame was a traditional double downtube, full cradle design, with an aluminum swing-arm and linkage rear suspension, and last, a pair of 16" Oscam wheels fitted with low radial tires.
The bike was scooped up at the 2012 RM Auctions in Monaco at a price of €1,170, which is around $1,500 based on current exchange rates.
The wide-case Ducati 450-cc Desmo single was the fastest production Ducati anybody could buy before the birth of the V-twin 750 Sport. That’s why when one of these models hits the market, they become so highly sought after.
The Desmo Corsa Replica is powered by a 436cc SOHC Desmo single engine and mated to a five-speed transmission. The engine comes with twin spark plugs, a single Dell’Orto PHM 40-mm carburettor, twin Bitubo rear shock absorbers and Marzocchi forks. The wheel rims are alloy, and the five-speed gear shift is mounted on the left.
Though built as a hill climb racer in 1990, the bike on offer is based on a 1972 example and is said to have been ridden by no less than Marcello Peruzzi, who won the Italian Historic Hillclimb challenge in 1995.
The bike was sold at the 2012 RM Auctions in Monaco for €9,360 ($11,700), fairly below the €14,000 - €18,000 ($17,500 - $22,500) that it was expected to fetch.
Everything about the Ducati 500 Sport speaks about the tremendous tradition of the Italian bike maker.
First launched in 1975 on the 350 cc and 500 cc vertical twin engines, the Ducati 500 Sport shared the design cues of the 860GT, a bike that didn’t perform in the market as Ducati would have liked. Trying to cut their losses, they decided to combine the design of the 860GT with the performance from the new valve-sprung engines. After much tweaking and developing, Ducati finally had a bike that could live up to the hype.
Not only did the 500 Sport Desmo appear with a twin down tube frame and Desmo heads, it also had superior handling and good brakes, qualities that became important in the reinvention of Ducati’s 500 Sport line.
The model that was shown off at the 2012 RM Auctions in Monaco - CN: DM500B/502562 - was a red and white model that was described as being in "sound original condition." Expected bidding price for the 500 Sport was €3,000 - €4,000, which is about $3,800 - $5,200 based on current exchange rates. Actual selling price was $758. Ouch!