Ducati’s first four-cylinder motorcycle is up for sale
Ducati has built just one unit of the 125cc Four GP motorcycle and it’s the company’s first four-cylinder motorcycle. The racing machine is up for sale at the Bonhams auction for $770,000.
The Ducati 125cc Four GP racing bike is special because it’s one of a kind. Yes, Ducati has built just one unit of this racing machine. So, the price tag is between $510,000 (€458,000) and $770,000 (€690,000).
What do you get for that amount? Well, in the early ’50s, the Grand Prix Ducati 125cc was designed on paper by Fabio Taglioni who was the chief designer and technical director of Ducati from 1954 until 1989. In other words, he’s the man behind the desmodromic 90° V-twin engine configuration we see on Ducatis.
In 1958, the Ducati 125cc Four GP was built as a prototype motorcycle. The project was put on hold until 1965. Unfortunately, Ducati was behind its rivals, especially Honda, in terms of technology development. So, the 1965 Ducati 125cc Four GP bike was never raced.
1965 Ducati 125cc Four GP
This was Ducati’s first four-cylinder engine design. The bike features a non-desmodromic 125cc inline-four. The engine is air-cooled and fitted with spring-closure valves per cylinder. It makes 23hp @ 15,000rpm enough to reach a top speed of 125mph (200kph).
The racing bike is equipped with an eight-speed gearbox with chain final drive. Other features include a dual downtube cradle steel frame, Ceriani telescopic fork, dual shocks on the rear and a braking system with Oldani TLS drum on the front and SLS drum on the rear.
The Ducati 125cc Four GP has a dry weight (without fairings) of 85 kg.
What happened with the bike after Ducati decided not to race it remains a mystery, but rumour has it that the racing machine ended up touring the world as a showpiece before it was torn apart.
The motorcycle was thought lost before the engine was found in Russia and its frame in the former Yugoslavia (now Croatia).
Giancarlo Morbidelli who was a mechanic and best known for his Morbidelli Grand Prix motorcycles which raced in MotoGP found out that the engine had made its way to the Technical Museum in Riga, Latvia.
The identity of the frame was confirmed by the official test rider for the Ducati 125cc Four GP, Franco Farne. And that was the starting point for Morbidelli to restore the bike. It was completely reassembled in the early 2000s’ and placed at the Morbidelli Museum in Pesaro, Italy. Sadly, Giancarlo Morbidelli passed away earlier this year.
The bike will be sold at the Bonhams Spring Stafford Sale auction on April 25 and 26, 2020.
Engine: 125cc air-cooled DOHC 4 valves per cylinder inline-four, 34.5mm x 34mm bore and stroke, 12:1 compression ratio, 23hp @ 15,000rpm
Top speed: 125mph
Carburetion: Four 12mm Dell’Orto (originally; 16mm now fitted), twin floats/one per pair of carburettors
Transmission: 8-speed, chain final drive
Electrics: 6v battery, coil and breaker point ignition x 4
Frame: Dual downtube cradle steel
Suspension: 32mm Ceriani telescopic fork front, dual shocks w/adjustable preload rear
Brakes: Oldani TLS drum front, SLS drum rear
Tires: 2.5 x 18in front and rear
Weight (dry/minus fairing): 187lb (85kg)