The history of the Ducati 750 SS Corsa is pretty interesting as is strongly related to the famous Mike Hailwood.
Mike Hailwood’s comeback victory at the Isle of Man in 1978, 11 years after he had retired and at the age of 38, holds a warm spot in the heart of every Ducati fan. But mention Paul Smart at Imola in 1972, and one will generate even more enthusiasm. At that Italian racetrack on 23 April, 1972, 70,000 race fans watched underdog Ducati defeat the world’s best riders on what were previously assumed to be the world’s best bikes. The riders included world champion Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Cal Rayborn and Walter Villa competing in the inaugural 200-mile race, much like Europe’s Daytona, with more than $40,000 in prize money.
Agostini took off in the lead with Smart and Spaggiari behind him, but Smart passed him on lap four and Spaggiari a lap later. After that, the two Ducatis diced with each other until the finish—Spaggiari passing Smart but then running wide as he started to misfire, low on fuel. The Ducatis finished one-two at an average speed of 97.76 mph, with Smart, Spaggiari and Agostini sharing the fastest lap at 100.1 mph. The “green frame” Ducati 750 Super Sport had arrived.
However, it looked as though two-strokes were soon going to rule Moto GP, and Ducati switched the V-twin to endurance racing, which had no engine restrictions. By boring the cylinders to 86 mm and using 450 racing pistons, the 864-cc 900 SS was created. The new bike made its race-winning debut at Montjuich Park, Barcelona, where Benjamin Grau and Salvador Canellas won the 24 hours endurance race in July 1973.
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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.
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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.
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The Ducati GTV 500 is a pretty important part of Ducati’s history. The parallel twin 350/500GTL models were introduced in 1975, taking their styling cues from the 860GT. Fabio Taglioni had nothing to do with them, as he was developing the belt-drive V-twin Pantah, so Tumidei updated the 1965 design. They were fitted with Borrani rims, Marzocchi forks and Brembo brakes and were succeeded by the 500 Sport Desmo in 1977. There was even a racing version, the 500 Super Sport. The final iteration was the GTV of 1977, a spring-valve version of the Sport Desmo which was made until 1981.
A similar model was put on sale featuring a handsome black and gold 900 SD paint job. Today there are very few of the original 500-cc parallel twins worldwide, so this bike is an excellent opportunity for any collector.
This classic motorcycle has an estimated price of €4.000-€6.000.
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A vintage 1969 Ducati 450 Mark 3 was auctioned with an estimated price of €3.000-€4.000. The motorcycle is powered by a 436 cc SOHC single engine paired with a five speeds transmission.
The 450-cc Mark 3 model was introduced in 1969, following the new wide-case 250/350-cc a year earlier. The 450-cc frame had an extra gusset along the top tube like Spaggiari’s racer, including a wider chain and sprocket and slightly longer Marzocchi forks. All 450s had a new type of Dell’Orto square-slide VHB 29 carburettor, and the bullet silencer was replaced by the cut-off Silentium type, which could be long or short. The bike on offer appears to be in sound condition and is finished in its original red and black, with some re-finishing to the paint. This model was produced for the Municipal Police and is known as “Vigili Urbani.” Its reduced 8.4-to-one compression ratio, solo seat and valanced front mudguard are all factory correct.
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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.
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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. Full story
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. Full story
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. Full story
Mario Recchia started as a Ducati mechanic in 1946 and was a pivotal figure in the racing department for many years. Recchia was also a skilled rider, winning his first race on the Via Emilia in 1947 on a Cucciolo and becoming champion of Emilia Romagna province in 1951. According to the vendor, Recchia raced this bike on street circuits in 1950. He rode it to work in Bologna during the week and raced it on Sundays.
Recchia raced with Bruno Spaggiari, Franco Villa and Franco Farne and also built and tuned their engines. He competed in the 1955, 1956 and 1957 Motogiro D’Italias, but one of his best stories is his roadside repair in a Milan-Taranto race. His Cucciolo broke in Sienna; he dismantled it and discovered the bearings had seized. Lacking any oil, he used the banana he had bought for lunch and finished the event.
When Carlo Saltarelli began working at the Ducati factory in the early 1970s, he and Recchia became lifelong friends. Recchia was present when Saltarelli opened his museum to the public in 2000, and he gave Saltarelli his racing Cucciolo as a gift. Mario Recchia passed away soon thereafter in 2007.
This bike was restored approximately 30 years ago and is presented with a handsome patina. Owned by two pivotal motorcycling figures, this machine offers a rare opportunity to own a piece of Ducati history. Full story