1973 Ducati 750SS
No motorcycle time capsule from the 1970s would be complete without the inclusion of a Ducati 750SS. As the editors at Italy's Motociclismo wrote, "To say that the SuperSport 750 was one of the most beautiful sportbikes ever made is no exaggeration; it may be considered among the most significant motorcycles of all time." High praise for a streetbike that went racing, scored a shock victory and thereby changed the fortunes of an Italian motorcycle company previously known only for its sporting sub-350cc singles, if at all.
Ironically, winning rider Paul Smart had only reluctantly agreed to race the new Ducati 750 at the inaugural Imola 200 road race, goaded into taking the job by his wife. He was not overly impressed by the converted roadster as it sat in the paddock, nor during his first practice laps. All that changed when he arrived back in the pits to much fanfare and cheering to learn that he had just smashed Imola's lap record! The handling and torque were so smooth that the feedback through the bike belied its actual performance. Smart and fellow 750SS rider Bruno Spaggiari went on to a smashing 1-2 finish at Imola, and just like that Ducati had begun a new chapter in its history.
Just over 400 of the resulting 750SS Green Frame street versions were produced in 1973-74, though how many have survived the ensuing 40 years is unclear. It didn't take long for attrition to thin the numbers as racers utilized the lusty horsepower delivered by the unique desmodromic valvetrain and massive 40mm carburetors. In the United States, the exploits of Cycle's 750SS road racer, tuned by Phil Schilling and ridden by Cook Neilson, were detailed in the pages of the magazine, helping spread the word. This culminated in 1977 when Neilson smashed all comers in the hotly contested Daytona Superbike race on the 750SS, now highly modified, displacing 883cc and nicknamed "Ol' Blue."
Subsequently, Ducati dealers were urged to put these units in the hands of people who would profile them on racetracks. Race kits and cams were available over the counter to heighten performance. Consequently, racing took its toll as all quests for speed do, and it soon became difficult to find a stock example. Crankcases were destroyed or altered, frames got modified to gain a handling edge, fiberglass fuel tanks deteriorated under the stress of racing and were replaced.
It is a pleasure then to find a complete and correctly restored 750SS such as this iconic example from the Silverman Museum, truly an opportunity to acquire one of the world's most significant sportbikes.
- Please note that the frame and engine numbers for this motorcycle are DM750SS075340 and 075335DM7501 respectively and its title is in transit.