The 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 holds a special place in classic motorcycle enthusiasts’ hearts as it represents a perfect blend of performance, style, and engineering prowess from the iconic Italian brand.
Launched at the 1973 Milan motor show in response to Ducati’s successful 1972 race wins, the Ducati 750 Super Sport was released in 74 and quickly gained recognition for its innovative features and superb handling capabilities on and off the track. This classic motorcycle continues to captivate riders today and remains a coveted piece for collectors.
At the heart of the Ducati Super Sport 750 lies a 748cc air-cooled L-twin engine delivering what was at the time an impressive 70 horsepower at 9,000 rpm, with a top speed of 130 mph. The engine features the revolutionary desmodromic valve system and gear-driven camshafts, which are hallmarks of Ducati design.
This robust engine construction provided unparalleled reliability, which was further complemented by a state-of-the-art frame, large diameter forks, and swing arms for excellent stability at high speeds.
The Ducati Super Sport 750 came with an eye-catching design that has aged gracefully. The fine craftsmanship is evident in the attention to detail, from the iconic green frame to the elegant bodywork. With only 401 units ever produced, the Ducati Super Sport 750 remains not just a symbol of Italian engineering excellence, but a rare and highly sought-after collectible motorcycle for enthusiasts worldwide.
The Iconic Ducati 750 Super Sport
History and Evolution
The 1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport was a groundbreaking motorcycle, which marked an important milestone for the renowned Italian motorcycle manufacturer. Designed by the brilliant engineer Fabio Taglioni, the Ducati SuperSport was born out of Ducati’s race shop in response to their success on the track.
The 1972 Imola 200-mile race saw Paul Smart, an English rider, secure a stunning victory aboard a race-tuned 750GT, highlighting the potential of Ducati’s V-twin engine.
Following this triumph, Ducati capitalized on their track results and produced a limited number of these highly sought-after machines for general release to the biking public.
Drawing inspiration from the Ducati 750 GT and Sport series, the crankcases of the 750 SuperSport allowed for an oil cooler attachment.
Although made only for a single year, with its remarkable performance and distinctive green frame, the 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 became a true race replica and remains one of the most exotic motorcycles of its time.
Fabio Taglioni and Desmodromic Valve Technology
Fabio Taglioni was not only the architect behind the 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750, but also the innovator of Ducati’s signature Desmodromic valve technology. Desmodromic valve systems are unique in that they utilize a separate cam lobe for both opening and closing the valves, as opposed to the traditional spring-operated design.
This revolutionary technology minimized valve float and improved timings at high RPMs, offering better performance and reliability.
The Ducati 750 Super Sport was equipped with Desmodromic valve technology, paired with a 748cc bevel gear-driven overhead cam (OHC) air-cooled 90° L-twin engine. With an 80mm x 74.4mm bore and stroke and a 9.5:1 compression ratio, this engineering feat produced an impressive 70 horsepower at 9,000 rpm.
This allowed the motorcycle to achieve a top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h), putting it on a par with the 4 cylinder 900cc Kawasaki Z1, (the fastest production bike on its release in 1972) making it not just a visual masterpiece but a powerhouse on the road.
In conclusion, the 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 holds a special place in history as an innovative, rare, and highly sought-after motorcycle that embodies both the genius of Fabio Taglioni and the racing spirit of Ducati. With its rich history, captivating aesthetics, and groundbreaking Desmodromic valve technology, it remains a true marvel in the world of motorcycles.
Key Features and Specifications
Engine and Performance
The 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750, also known as the 750SS, is powered by a robust 748cc bevel gear-driven desmodromic OHC, 4-stroke, air-cooled, 90-degree L-twin engine. This impressive engine boasts a bore and stroke of 80mm x 74.4mm and a compression ratio of 9.5:1.
The unique L-twin engine meant the front cylinder was practically vertical to the road allowing more air and better cooling for the rear cylinder. It also lowered the center of gravity which improved handling.
The desmodromic valve gear system allows for more precise valve control without relying on springs. This groundbreaking design uses rocker arms and bevel-driven camshafts, which were features that distinguished the Super Sport 750 from its competition.
A notable characteristic back in the day, desmodromic technology provided improved efficiency and high-performance power delivery.
Design and Aesthetics
One of the most outstanding design aspects of the Ducati Super Sport 750 is its legendary “Green Frame.” The frame was built with racing in mind; it features large diameter forks and a swingarm that offer excellent stability at high speeds.
This motorcycle was the first street legal sport bike to incorporate three disc brakes, consisting of two Scarab discs at the front brakes and a single disc at the rear brake, providing incredible stopping power.
The 750 Super Sport’s fiberglass fuel tank is not only functional, but it is also visually appealing, featuring a racing-style ‘looking glass’ fuel gauge stripe. The distinctive tank together with the half fairing and single seat made the Ducati 750 Super Sport design very similar to the successful Imola bikes it was based on.
The Italian motorcycle maker ensured that both form and function were at the forefront of the design, creating a visually appealing and highly capable motorcycle that has remained a sought-after classic to this day.
The 38 mm Marzocchi telescopic front forks for the suspension and dual shocks, Marzocchi 305 mm, 3-way adjustable for the rear suspension allowed for stable cornering and rock solid handling at speed whether on track or road.
In conclusion, the 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750, with its innovative technology and groundbreaking design, has left a significant mark in the history of motorcycles, becoming a collector’s dream and a symbol of Italian design and engineering excellence.
Racing Success and Legacy
Imola 200 Victory
The 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 played a crucial role in paving the way for Ducati’s success on the track. It all began with the Imola 200 race in 1972, which marked the first significant victory for Ducati.
Ducati’s 750 GT, ridden by riders Bruno Spaggiari and Paul Smart, took first and second places, respectively. This was an impressive achievement considering their competition, including track legend Giacomo Agostini.
This victory put Ducati on the map and initiated the development and release of the Super Sport two years later, leveraging advancements and learnings from their Imola 200 success.
Influence on Modern Superbikes
The 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 had a lasting impact on the development of modern superbikes. Its innovative design and performance contributed to shaping the motorcycle industry as we know it today.
V-twin engine: Ducati’s V-twin engine with tower shaft gear-driven cams was overbuilt and provided enhanced stability and power.
Desmodromic valve system: The Super Sport utilized Ducati’s signature desmodromic valve system, which allowed for higher RPMs and improved efficiency.
Handling: The state-of-the-art frame, large diameter forks, and swing arms ensured excellent stability at high speeds, setting the standard for generations of superbikes to follow.
Track-inspired design: As a true race replica, the 750 Super Sport’s design, engineering, and technology were heavily influenced by Ducati’s track success and experience.
Throughout the years following the release of the 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750, the bike’s innovative features and track success laid the foundation for the development and prominence of Ducati superbikes in the motorcycle industry.
Today, Ducati continues to be known for its powerful engines, top-notch handling, and sleek design, harking back to the 1974 Super Sport that helped cement its legendary track legacy.
Notable Auctions and Collectibility
The 750 Ducati Super Sport has become a highly sought-after collectible motorcycle for its performance, rarity, and stunning design. Several notable auctions have showcased this iconic bike, attracting collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.
One notable auction took place on Bring a Trailer, where a 40-years-owned 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 was sold for a staggering $151,000 on December 16, 2020. This auction featured an immaculately maintained example of the 750SS, showcasing its premium appeal to collectors. The engine was completely overhauled by road racer and mechanical wizard Guy Martin.
Another auction featured a 1974 Ducati 750 Sport, which is a slightly different model than the 750 Super Sport. This bike was sold for $36,750 on April 27, 2020, also on Bring a Trailer. The 750 Sport model, while not as rare and valuable as the Super Sport, still garners considerable interest and demand.
In terms of distinguishing features, the 750 Super Sport comes equipped with Conti mufflers, which not only enhance the motorcycle’s performance but also contribute to its iconic look. The 750 GT, on the other hand, was designed with a more touring-oriented purpose and is considered less aggressive in terms of performance.
The Berliner Motor Corporation played a significant role in introducing and distributing Ducati motorcycles, including the original Ducati Scrambler and the 750 Super Sport, in the United States.
Their dealer partnership with Ducati helped expand the brand’s presence within the San Francisco and Las Vegas markets, boosting the overall popularity and collectibility of these motorcycles in the country.
In summary, the 1974 Ducati Super Sport 750 is a highly coveted motorcycle that has captured the attention and admiration of collectors and enthusiasts alike. Its standout features and impressive performance have led to some significant sales at notable auctions, solidifying its status as a prized collectible.
Ownership and Restoration
Finding an Authentic 750 SS
Finding an authentic 1974 Ducati 750SS can be quite a challenge, as only 401 examples were produced. Each bike was personally supervised by Fabio Taglioni during the assembly process. Many enthusiasts search for these rare motorcycles, and their value has steadily increased over the years.
One notable owner, Keith Hale, has had his 1974 750 Super Sport for over 40 years and has no intention of selling it, despite the bike potentially fetching a high price in the market.
Maintenance and Stock Hardware
Maintaining a 1974 Ducati 750 SS involves attention to several key components, including:
Clip-on handlebars: These are adjustable for rider comfort and control.
Speedometer: Smiths Gauges were typically used in these models, and ensuring their accuracy is crucial.
Racing seat: A well-maintained seat contributes to the overall aesthetics and functionality of the bike.
Steering damper: This component enhances stability and control during high-speed maneuvers.
Dyna electronic ignition: Ensuring the ignition system’s reliability is vital for the bike’s performance.
When it comes to restoration, many owners prefer to keep their bikes as true to the original specifications as possible. This includes retaining stock hardware such as the warranty card and toolkit that came with the Super Sport 750.
Guy Martin, another individual associated with the Ducati 750 Super Sport community, advises owners to seek out expert help when it comes to servicing and maintaining their bikes. This ensures that the motorcycle remains in excellent condition while retaining its value and historical significance.
It goes without saying that almost all Ducati’s look amazing but the Ducati Super Sport 750 is just a joy to behold in the flesh and if you get the chance to see one, don’t pass it up.