May 28, 2024

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Geared for the Automotive Life

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Ducati 750 Imola Desmo Headlines Gooding’s Geared Online Motorcycle Event

From May 8 to May 17, Gooding & Company will be presenting a Geared Online event specifically aimed at motorcycle collectors — and one special lot will be drawing a lot of interest.

A 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmo will be featured as part of this online event, carrying with it an estimate range of $650k to $750k.

Photo copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Image by Brian Henniker.

This bike is one of eight 750cc Imola Desmos built, and one of seven that still exist today. Among the seven purpose-built Imola racers known to survive, this one retains its original frame and sand cast crankcases along with the majority of its original silver metallic flake gelcoat finish — making it exceedingly rare.

“As one of the most original of eight Imola racers built, this Ducati is one of the very best of this rare breed,” said Angus Dykman, Specialist for Gooding & Company. “The 1972 Imola 200 was not only a defining moment in motorcycle history, but for Ducati as a company. The technical achievements developed for the eight specially-produced Imola racers propelled Ducati to the forefront of international competition for years to come, and desmodromic valves are still used in the company’s highest performance models to this day. This incredible example has spent nearly thirty years in the consignor’s loving care and is accompanied by remarkable archival photos, fascinating documentation and a report by marque expert Ian Falloon.”

The eight original 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmos and the famous glass-sided transporter prior to the 1972 Imola 200.
Image copyright of Cycle World Magazine.

In the early 1970s, Ducati made the decision to take on MV Agusta in motorcycle racing’s Formula 750 class. To be competitive, the group prepared eight advanced 750-cc racers for the 1972 Imola 200 — and Ducati transported them in a specially designed glass-sided transporter, causing a stir at Imola and in the greater motorcycle racing world. Ducati team riders Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari took the top two spots on the new bikes, and the win for Ducati. 

These bikes were mechanically very special, as they represented the first use of desmodromic valve actuation on a v-twin engine, allowing additional high rpm performance. 

The motorcycles also featured sand cast engine cases, billet connecting rods and cranks and an asymmetrical exhaust setup, all of which combined for a lightweight performance edge.

Errol James riding this Ducati 750 Imola Desmo racer in South Africa in 1973.
Image copyright of R.K. Edwards, Durban, South Africa. 

The 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmo being sold at Gooding’s event was sent to South Africa in 1973, where it was campaigned by Errol James at the South African TT at the Roy Hesketh Circuit. It was eventually retired to static storage at Vetsak, the official Ducati Importer in Johannesburg, where it was purchased by motorcycle enthusiast and political correspondent John D’Oliveira in 1976. In 1995, the D’Oliveira family shipped the motorcycle to the U.S., where it was purchased by its current owner, a lifelong car and motorcycle journalist for numerous top publications. It’s been shown at the Pebble Beach Concours, the Quail Motorcycle Gathering and at the Petersen.

Learn more about the Ducati here — as well as the other bikes on offer at Gooding’s upcoming event.