Update 2.22.2106: Now listed with AMS Ducati Dallas. -dc
Update 10.6.2015: Price dropped from $32,000 to $27,500. Good luck to buyers and seller! -dc
If you're an 851 fetishist, today's Featured Listing Ducati 851 SP3 is a rare sight here in the USA. We first saw this particular example back in July from the same owner, but the bike is back now with seriously improved photography. Even if you have no interest in buying, it's worth a few right-clicks on the images to add to your dream garage...
At the time it was last posted, the RSBFS commentariat was pretty critical of both the pricing and the photography, but with the photography issue sorted, I think it's clear why the seller has ambitious goals in terms of pricing: it's a beautiful example of a very rare bike that is likely to become very valuable. The 916 is perhaps the most iconic modern Ducati, but the 851 laid the groundwork and although the 851 certainly isn't as pretty or as elegant as its descendant, it has a brutal simplicity that is every bit as purposeful and effective.
Originally introduced in 1987, the 851 was most significant for its introduction of four-valve heads, liquid-cooling, and fuel injection to the venerable L-twin engine, changes required to make the bike competitive in the then-new World Superbike series. It worked, and Ducati returned to the world performance stage in a big way.
Good for a claimed 93hp and the usual fat midrange and lazy power delivery compared to four-cylinder rivals, the 851 was eventually superseded by the bored-out 888 that displaced, surprise surprise, 888cc.
That bigger motor also powered the homologation SP3 and put out 111hp. Other changes to the SP3 included Öhlins suspension at both ends, a close-ratio gearbox, reinforced cases, and a few cosmetic carbon bits. The original bikes did have a set of Termignoni upswept pipes, although this bike features what appear to be Verlicchi megaphone exhausts. It's a shame the originals are missing*, but I've seen a number of earlier 851's with similar exhausts so they're not completely inappropriate.
(*Note: I've discussed with the seller and he notes that he has identified a source for the originals but that it would require a trade for the current exhaust. Please contact the seller for further details. -dc)
From the seller: 1991 Ducati 851 SP3 for Sale
I purchased this bike from The Silverman Museum Collection. It was serviced extensively prior to me purchasing it. I then had the fork seals replaced and the clutch and brake lines replaced along with a few other odds and ends (oil change, battery, etc.) I only rode the bike once (it scared me), I thought it was just beautiful to look at. I would put new tires on it if i planned on riding it a lot, but other than that, it's in great shape.
I believe these pictures do the bike justice. I can provide a video of a cold start for anyone who is interested: it likes a little throttle when cold but after it's warm it will idle without issue. It sounds phenomenal.
Keep in mind while the seller is asking some big money for an 851, this is an extremely rare homologation-special SP3 and even cooking 851's are finally beginning to appreciate in value. While the Ducati Monster can be credited with saving Ducati in terms of sales, it was the 851 that gave the brand back the street cred on which the parts-bin Monster traded, and paved the way for the stunning 916 that graced a million bedroom walls.