Ducati UK's upcoming Art of Corse event has left a very brave Mick White charged to curate a collection of "iconic Ducatis through the ages." Mick's a top bloke, handy old-school Ducati racer and a great choice for the job. But I don't envy him - he's predictably been snowed under with offers of 916-series bikes to show: so, given an absolute max of 20 bikes to show, what would you pick? Here's my pop...
Firstly some ground rules - these have to be important and pivotal bikes in Ducati's history, and it's for public consumption: as someone was heard to say at Bristol Auto Italia, "They all look the same," so six types of bevel single isn't a good idea. Even so, let’s get the clichés out of the way first.
Cucciolo (engine only) and a 65 - the first complete Ducati. A 916SP, in the original Tamburini graphics, and of course the only 916cc SP. Then a 999R: the winningest Ducati Superbike, and a very misunderstood bike. I'd stop the collection at that point in time, because everything that follows is effectively in the current range. So that's four down, 6 to go...
A Marianna, (failing that F3 or 175 Sport) - that Giro victory saved Ducati, and these first bevel singles were the how and why. A triple cam 125GP bike if I could persuade an owner to show it: if you don't know why, you're clearly not reading Benzina. Then a 350 twin fuel cap 350: the first Desmo road bike. That leaves 13 bikes: it's going to be tight.
Bevel twins: slightly controversial, but bear in mind the previous public consumption remark: 750GT, and a Mille Hailwood Rep - first and last, and easy to link to the Imola72/Daytona77/IoM78 trinity. After all Smarty's bike had centre-stand lugs, and Mike's NCR had that colourscheme. Plus maybe an NCR racer - all those endurance victories, plus the NCR name needs to be involved. And who wants another bevel single in there?
Ah, me actually: need a Street Scrambler as an example of the stuff that actually kept the production lines rolling, so ditto the Monster in original 904cc, tacho-free set-up: the bike that saved Ducati(again) and still the best seller today. Then an example of a folly - the 125 Regolarita or Six Days: proof Ducati made two-stokes, and the last mass produced Ducati single. And of course the Supermono has to be in there, for Bordi's engineering genius and proof that Pierre Terblanche can style a bike well enough to influence Tamburini's 916. Ok, that leaves just six spaces
Mention Tamburini and the Paso has to get a look in as his first bike for Ducati (now in Cagiva's loving arms)and a world-wide influence all bikes - especially the Honda CBR/Hurricane. And obviously an 851 (Tricolore or SP5?) as the start of the Superbike line, and a statement of Cagiva's commitment to racing.
Four to choose, and I haven't even mentioned Taglioni's Rubber-Ducks. First Pantah and an F1 750 - Fabio's first and last belters. Then there has to be a TT2: another NCR connection - (or is that overblown? More revelations and controversy being unearthed for issue 5) plus genesis - the 500GP racer, as raced by Read. That's twenty bikes and no room left at the Inn. The Apollo? No thanks - a prototypical backwater. The Desmosedici - arrg, go on, we'll never get the 500GP bike.
And I might be persuaded to pull a couple of others in favour of a seventies diesel and an early camera or radio, because without those "sidelines" there'd be no Ducati today. So maybe pull some twins, and slot in the stuff that made the bikes possible instead.
Good luck Mick, who's actually after some of the above, plus an MH900E and a bloody scooter...if you can help get in touch and I'll pass it on