The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22)
Lot 218*
The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22)
Sold for £87,740 (US$ 118,797) inc. premium

Lot Details
The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22) The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22) The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22) The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22) The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22) The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees,c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22)
The ex-Mike Hailwood, John Surtees
c.1960 Ducati 250cc DOHC Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle
Engine no. BD21 (over-stamped BD22)
• Works engine supplied new to Mike Hailwood
• Extensive in-period race history
• Reynolds frame built for John Surtees by Ken Sprayson

Commissioned by John Surtees circa 1961, the ultra-rare machine offered here incorporates an ex-works Ducati desmodromic twin-cylinder engine, which is housed in a bespoke frame fabricated by maestro frame-maker, Ken Sprayson. It is one of a pair, the other being a '350', which were built for Surtees using engines taken from machines supplied by Ducati for the use of Mike Hailwood.

Mike's links with the Ducati factory had been forged by his father Stan, proprietor of the successful 'Kings of Oxford' chain of motorcycle dealerships, who before the start of the 1959 season had concluded a deal to import Ducatis into the UK. This agreement included the supply of a works 125cc desmo single for his son, then 18 years of age but already recognised as a rising star.

Mike enjoyed considerable success aboard the little 125 desmo in 1959, and in February 1960 was invited to Italy to test Ducati's new 250cc desmo twin which, according to MCN, had been 'built to order for the Hailwood équipe'. On 9th April 1960 Mike took the 250 desmo to a debut win in the 'Hutchinson 100' meeting at Silverstone, breaking the class lap record in the process. It would soon become apparent that this result flattered the new Ducati, which was at its best on fast tracks like Silverstone but did not handle so well on the typical British short circuit.

The factory responded with a new frame for the 250, and at Stan Hailwood's behest also produced a 350cc version. While its new frame represented an improvement for the 250, the 350 was found to handle poorly and overall was considered inferior to Mike's AJS 7R. Notable results on the 250 desmo included 4th behind the works MV Agustas at the Belgian Grand Prix plus wins at Brands Hatch and Castle Combe. Later in the season the 250 Ducati appeared with a frame made by Ernie Earles (designer of the eponymous leading-link fork) and in this form proved good enough for Mike to take 4th place in the Ulster Grand Prix behind winner Carlo Ubbiali's works MV and the factory Hondas of Tom Phillis and Jim Redman. But for many meetings Mike preferred to use his ex-works 1956 Mondial 250, a machine on which he was all but unbeatable.

For 1961 Stan Hailwood secured backing from Honda for Mike to contest the 250 class at World Championship level. There was thus no need for him to use the 250 Ducati, but experiments continued with the 350 desmo twin, which was tested fitted with a Reynolds-made leading-link front fork. In domestic 250 races, if the Honda was not available, Mike usually used the Mondial, Stan having acquired an ex-works 1957 model at the start of the '61 season. Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Mike won the 250cc title in 1961 to bring Honda its first ever World Championship. The result was a contract to race works MVs for 1962, rendering the works Ducati desmo twins surplus to requirements. However, this would not be Mike's last contact with them, for at the end of March 1963 he rode the 250, now owned by John Surtees, to a win at Mallory Park.

By this time the 250 desmo twin had a new frame, built by the legendary Ken Sprayson. Ken had started with the Reynolds Tube Company in 1947, and by the time the Surtees request came in was head of the Tyseley-based firm's Experimental and Development Department. Reynolds had built up a considerable reputation in the motorcycling world on the back of its TT Welding Service, and much of Ken's time was devoted to the production of prototypes and racing frames. In his book 'The Frame Man', Ken recalls: 'Another interesting project at this time was the frames for the 250cc and 350cc desmodromic Ducatis requested by John Surtees. These bikes had previously been ridden by Mike Hailwood who I believe had also had a special frame made, but there was still a need for some thing better.'

With their deep oil sumps, the Ducati engines required a tall frame to provide clearance for cam-box removal. This was far from ideal, so Ken solved the problem by omitting the right lower tube from what might best be described as a 'low-boy' frame. This left space for the sump, the engine being removed/installed from the right-hand side. It was found that the 'missing' tube did not detract from the assembly's overall stiffness. Reynolds leading-link forks were used. Unfortunately, there had been a mix up with regard to the intended wheel size. Ken continues: 'Consequently the steering geometry had been laid out with the wrong size wheels, and when John built the bikes up, the handling was not as good as it should have been. In spite of this, the bikes were ridden by some of the top flight riders including Dan Shorey and Derek Minter.' The Ducatis were eventually sold on and disappeared from view.
This one was acquired some 15 years ago by Italian collector, Michelangelo Pochettino, who purchased it from an ex-Hailwood mechanic in the UK. Dismantled and not 100% complete at that time, it was restored by Michelangelo Pochettino and was running well when he sold it to the current vendor. The Ducati has since been treated to further restoration in the USA by renowned marque specialist, Jeff Nash.

Ducati produced relatively few purpose-built racing motorcycles in the 1950/1960s, preferring to compete in production-based events using modified roadsters. Thus this example, boasting in-period associations with two of the sports greatest World Champions, represents a possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the serious collector. Ken Sprayson's letter confirming the authenticity of this historic machine comes with it.

Footnotes

  • This lot is subject to 5% import tax.

    As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
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