Normally when I do a Design Friday post I focus on a designer, and their body of work or contribution to their chosen field. Today however I am going to focus on a specific object. The 1974 Ducati SS750 Desmo. I have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather this week and a longing for spring to arrive. I’m pretty sure that is where my inspiration for this came from.
The Ducati SS750 Desmo is considered by many to be the most beautiful motorcycle ever designed. Everything about the bike catches your eye, from the Fabio Taglioni’s V-Twin desmodronic engine, to the sweeping lines of the front faring.
Taglioni’s 90º V-Twin engine originally designed in 1970 for the Ducati 750GT is beautiful in its own right. The wonderful pleasing form features a round crankcase with the Ducati name cast in an Art Deco style signifies that this is a quality piece of machinery. That it is made to last. This single engine, designed by Taglioni has been the basis of all Ducati V-Twin engines built since. Yes Ducati has made changes and improved upon the design, but at the core, the design still draws from this engine.
The history of the SS750, is solid. The original 750GT turned out to be much more than a solid road bike, and was immediately pushed into the racing circuit for the Imola 200 in 1972. Taglioni built and tuned engines for the Italian champion Bruno Spaggiari and British racing legend Paul Smart. At the time no one thought they would win, especially against the rival Agusta team that featured Giacomo Agostini (world-champion) in pole position, or the Japanese teams who at the time were at the height of their power on the world circuit. In a sensational upset, the two Ducatis trounced the competition, dominating the race with the bikes running in a one-two formation, with Paul Smart narrowly edging out Bruno Spagliarri for the win. With this the legend was born.
Ducati quickly moved to put the SS750 into production. The bike Ducati offered was essentially a replica of the winning Imola bikes. At the time, the SS750 was like nothing else on the road. Everything about it flew in the face of Italian racing tradition. The bikes featured a duck-egg green and silver paint scheme instead of the more common racing red. The bikini fairing was sleek and elegant, side covers were slotted and scalloped helping to highlight the drive train accentuating the power of the bike. And with the forward leaning V-Twin engine, the SS750 not only looked fast it had a race pedigree to back it up.
The original SS750 was produced for one year only, in 1974 and was limited to a production run of just 400 bikes. It was however put back into production for another two years but with a different carter engine.