In 1972 Ducati burst onto the scene and showed the world its supreme, championship winning 750 cc V-Twin, a race modified 750GT designed by Fabio Taglioni.
Riding modified 750GTs, in 1972 Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari finished first and second at the fast, Daytona-like Imola 200 in San Marino, Italy. Putting their 1972 race wins to work, in 1974 Ducati released a production desmodromic* valve 750 called the 750 Super Sport. Ducatis of the era used state of the art frames, large diameter forks and swing arms offering great stability at race track speeds. And their new V-Twin engine with “tower shaft” gear driven cams was greatly overbuilt. The Super Sport was completely uncompromising offering a minimal fairing, solo race seat, rear-set foot controls and clip-on style bars.
Only a few hundred “green frame” 750SS’s were hand built and are extremely desirable today. Within a few years the 860cc version, the 900 Super Sport came available, essentially identical except for “square cases,” a bump in displacement, different paint and graphics. With its race wins and the general superbike performance of the 750SS, and related 750 Sport of the era, the Ducati brand was firmly set into Superbike territory.
Ducati had not built any motorcycles pre-World war II. Starting with the 50cc Cucciolo in 1946, for about 25 years Ducati focused on sporting and utilitarian single cylinder bikes up to 350 cc’s, then moved up to V-Twins. Their focus previously was electrical devices like condensers, radios, shavers, calculators and cameras, even refrigeration equipment. Transforming bicycles into motorcycles, filling the needs of the post-War Italian population, getting them to work is what drove Ducati to its success in motorcycle manufacturing.
Currently on display at the National Motorcycle Museum is a fine example of the rare “Green Frame” Ducati 750 Super Sport owned by Bob Westercamp.
*Desmodromic valve trains use two cam lobes to control opening and closing of each valve, eliminating the possibility of valve float; one cam lobe opens the valve, the second cam lobe forces the valve shut. Most engines use one cam lobe to open the valve, but a coil spring to close it.
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