The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014

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Lot 358
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 014

£ 55,000 - 75,000
US$ 77,000 - 100,000
Amended
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1
1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 014
Mike Hailwood's 1978 Isle of Man TT comeback ride is the stuff of legend. Out of top-flight bike racing for seven years and away from the Island for eleven, he took on and beat the might of the Honda works team to win the Formula 1 TT at record speed.

Hailwood's machine was entered by Manchester-based Ducati dealership, Sports Motor Cycles Ltd, which had come tantalisingly close to victory in the previous year's inaugural Formula 1 race. Roger Nicholls (Mike's team-mate in '78) appeared to have got the better of Phil Read's works Honda in the wet conditions, only for the race to be cut short in controversial circumstances that gifted victory - and the first TT F1 World Championship - to Read and Honda.

The Hailwood and Nicholls bikes were part of a small batch of around 25 such machines built by the legendary NCR race shop in Italy for TT Formula 1 and FIM Coupe d'Endurance racing. 'NCR' stood for the names of its founders, ex-factory race mechanics Giorgio Nepoti, Rino Caracchi and Luigi Rizzi, although after Rizzi's early departure the 'R' stood for Racing. NCR was founded in 1967 in the small town of Borgo Panigale on the outskirts of Ducati's hometown of Bologna. Situated a stone's throw from the Ducati factory, NCR functioned as the semi-official race team from the early 1970s, there being no direct works involvement at that time, although factory engineers and mechanics routinely assisted favoured privateers. The Nepoti/Caracchi philosophy was that everything could be improved, lightened or made more powerful, and like all truly great tuners they paid attention to the smallest detail in the knowledge that racing would inevitably expose any weaknesses. Their emblem, a speeding cartoon dog wearing a helmet, is known the world over.

Nicholls' 1977 TT F1 Ducati - '014', the machine offered here - was collected from the Ducati factory in the spring of that year by Sports Motor Cycles' Pat Slinn, who at that time was working from the UK importer, Coburn & Hughes. It was originally built as an endurance racer and has a special frame incorporating eccentric chain adjusters at the swinging arm ends and similar mounts for the footrests. These arrangements are quite unlike those of the production frame and were intended to speed up pit-stops, the adjustable footrests making it easier to accommodate riders of different heights.

In 1973 Benjamin Grau and Salvador Canellas had scored an emphatic victory at the Barcelona 24 Hours race riding a works bike entered by Ducati's Spanish offshoot, Mototrans, contemporary photographs of which show a frame identical to this one. Pat Slinn, a frequent visitor to both the Ducati factory and NCR, tells us that he never saw another one like it. Sadly, the Ducati factory no longer retains any records relating to the 1970s endurance-racing programme.

Before the Ducati was loaded into the van to bring it back to the UK, factory tester/engineer Franco Farné fired it up and rode up and down outside the race shop to show that it worked! The machine had not been touched since its last endurance race and the Sports Motor Cycles team had plenty of work to do to prepare it for the TT. As collected in 1977, the ex-endurance racer was fitted with Scarab calipers (soon replaced by Brembo) Campagnolo alloy wheels, contact-points ignition, a high-level exhaust system, separate seat and tank, and a Ducati fairing complete with quick filler. The fairing and seat/tank unit currently fitted are Sports Motor Cycles' copies of the works items fitted to Hailwood's 1978 TT-winning bike, and were on this machine when the current vendor purchased it from Sports Motor Cycles' proprietor, Steve Wynne, in 1982. The accompanying bill of sale, dated 20th October 1982, lists Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Tom Heron, Alex George, Tony Rutter, Roger Marshall, Steve Tonkin, Steve Manship and Eddie Roberts as having ridden the ex-Nicholls Ducati, though by no means all of them raced it.

As received, the Ducati came with Brembo Goldline brake calipers, Dymag alloy wheels and a different exhaust system. When raced by Roger Nicholls, the bike wore the earlier black Brembo calipers, Campagnolo wheels and had longer silencers. When campaigned by the factory it would have had Scarab calipers, matching black Marzocchi forks and different bodywork.

The engine is particularly worthy of note. There are no crankcase numbers but superficially it looks like a normal 750cc 'round case' (i.e. no spin-on oil filter or narrowed oil reservoir). The crankshaft has been lightened and polished, and the cylinders bored out to take larger liners. We are advised that the latter have an 88mm bore which, combined with the stock 74.4mm stroke, results in a capacity of 905cc. Thicker-than-standard cylinder studs are fitted also.

The cylinder heads have a narrower-than-standard valve angle of 60° while several parts are magnesium (i.e. the clutch cover, camshaft end-support bearing covers, upper bevel bearing housings, tappet covers and supports for the lower bevels). The oil breather is made entirely from aluminium – normally there is a plastic cover and plastic internal 'gallery'. It has the stock oil feed to an oil cooler taken from behind the points. The points housing itself has had the condenser clamps machined off (presumably to make it easier and quicker to change). In addition, the alternator cover and gear selector cover have been lightened by removing the 'DUCATI' lettering, and there is no provision for a kick-start.

The gearbox is a close-ratio, three-dog unit with hollow layshaft and a sintered bronze dry clutch, while 2nd and 5th layshaft gears run on split bronze bushes. Primary/secondary drives are the 'normal' type used with the early-type dry clutch (i.e. the one without the vertical feed cast in for the oil cooler). Suspension is by damping-adjustable magnesium Marzocchis up front and Girling dampers at the rear.

During 1982/83 the Ducati was ridden by Gordon Farmer at Mallory Park, Donington Park, Brands Hatch and the Isle of Man, but has not been run since. Because of the high compression ratio Avgas was used and special (quieter) exhausts made to satisfy the scrutineers. (The previous system will have been refitted prior to sale). The bike was then stripped and the crankshaft rebuilt with new con-rods/big-ends in approximately 1984/85 by Alec McFazden. It was at this time that new Asso pistons were obtained (see bill on file) and new cylinder liners made and fitted. The frame was checked by Brian Capper/Anthony Ainslie and then it and the swinging arm were re-coated as the paint was particularly poor.

From 1985 to 2002 the vendor was working overseas and the dismantled Ducati was kept in boxes at his house. The rebuild commenced in July/August 2010 and was finished only last month, and we are advised that this historic machine is now in running condition. A spare Solec ignition battery pack and four 89mm-bore Asso pistons come with it.

Works or ex-works Ducati v-twins with Isle of Man TT history are exceptionally rare and only infrequently offered for sale. '014' represents a possibly once in a lifetime opportunity for the discerning collector to own one of these legendary racing motorcycles.

Bonhams would like to thank Steve Wynne, Pat Slinn and Livio Lodi, Museum Curator at Ducati Motor SpA, for their assistance in preparing this description.

Saleroom notices

  • It should be noted that the exhaust system on the machine is the one fitted at the time of its purchase from Sports Motor Cycles in 1982. The 'quieter' exhausts are available via separate negotiation with the vendor. The forks fitted currently are 38mm alloy Marzocchi of the same type used by Roger Nicholls; they are not magnesium and do not have damping adjustment. It should also be noted that the spare Solec ignition pack is minus the NiCad batteries, so needs repair, and that there are only two 89mm pistons being provided with the machine, not four as stated in the catalogue.
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
The ex-works, NCR, Sports Motor Cycles, Roger Nicholls, Isle of Man TT Formula 1,1973 Ducati 905cc Production Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 014
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