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Ducati posted by

First Year Legend Alert: 1975 Ducati 900 SS

Warning!

This post is in our archives. Links in this post have been updated to point to similar bikes available to bid on eBay.

The 1975 Ducati 900SS is something every serious collector has on their list and given that 1975 production was less than 250 units, today’s post is quite an occasion.  This nice but not pristine version is located in Manhattan Beach, California USA but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see it go to an international sale.

1975 Ducati 900SS For Sale on eBay

To understand the significance of this bike and why it is so prized, you need to look back to 1970 when the top level GP racing class was pretty much a battle between MV Agusta (with legendary rider Agostini) and Japanese two-strokes.  Ducati had left racing over 10 years earlier due to budget constraints but was now flush with new backing and had a new series of larger displacement machines under development.  In 1970 the company decided it would be going back to the track, in part to help increase visibility to their new machines but also to help in development.

Ducati hit the track in 1970 with a new 500cc L-twin engine with two-valve desmo heads but the new machines were still no match for the then dominant Agostini and MV Agusta.   In 1972 Ducati announced a new 750cc machine that incorporated the lessons learned over the last 2 seasons along with special racetrack-oriented cams, twin spark plugs, 40mm Dell’Orto carbs and billet connecting rods.  Other top shelf bits included Marzocchi forks and triple-disc brakes.

The new 750cc machine was set to debut at Imola on April 23, 1972.   Did it work?  Well, here is what happened when GP rider Paul Smart (yes, THAT Paul Smart) took the new Ducati out for qualifying:

“On the last lap I wound it up as fast as I felt comfortable.  I wasn’t going completely flat out because it was basically just a safety-wired street bike..it still had the Dunlop TT100 street tires and even still had the centerstand lugs in place.   When I brought the bike back to the pits all the Ducati mechanics were jumping up and down…it turns out I had just broken Ago’s track record.”

 

The new Duc actually finished 1-2 at Imola and the public immediately clamored for a 750ss for the street.  At the end of the 1972 season Ducati promised to make replicas of the Imola winning machine available to the public but  Ducati was still a small manufacturer so this didn’t actually happen until 1974.  During this 2 year period the Japanese were undergoing a crash course in development and quickly catching up to its European rivals so when Ducati finally delivered the promised Imola replica 750cc machines they also introduced a new 860cc machine, the 900 SuperSport/SS.   The new “big” Duc was essentially the 750 series machine with more power and fortunately for Ducati, this wasn’t a case where more power upset the balance of the bike. The new 900ss was able to continue the performance success of the 750 for several years.  Consider this – it was on a 1978 900SS that a just-out-of-retirement 38 year old Mike Hailwood would ride to a legendary victory at the Isle of Mann TT.

Okay, we have covered the history and ties to famous racers like  Paul Smart and Mike Hailwood, but you may still be wondering why this bike is so high on so many collectors lists.  The answer is that not only is it a first year bike but it also had some unique to the year components    The 1975 edition actually had many of the same components as the the 750cc Imola race replicas.  These components were offered on the 900ss for the 1975 year only.

A quick comparison of the components for the 900ss model years is below as an example:

1975 900ss  1976 900ss
 Gas Tank  Fiberglass  Steel
 Carbs  40mm  32mm
 Exhausts  Conti Lafranconi
 Turn signals  No  Yes
 Shift  Right side  Left side

 

Simply put, for many Ducati fans and collectors the 1975 900ss is considered to be the closest you can get to the race bikes ridden by people like Smart and Hailwood.

One final factor to consider regarding the why the Ducati is so highly prized by collectors is the generally acceptance that the 750/900ss Ducati along with the Laverda 750SFC and the Norton Commando were the first modern “GP-bikes-with-lights and a horn.”  You could even think of the Ducati as the progenitor of bikes such as the Ducati 888SP3 and Desmosedici.

Now as for this specific example, here is a summary of what the seller has to say

  • #214 of 246 produced in 1974
  • Has only 12,000 kilometers/roughly 7,500 original miles in its 42 year lifespan.
  • Brembo disc brakes front and rear with all new brake pads, front forks were rebuilt and new seals added.
  • DMC electronic ignition installed as well as new voltage regulator.
  • It is a 42 year old survivor and it has some imperfections. At some point in the past Ethanol cause the gas tank to leak. It also caused a “bubble like” line at the base of the gas tank. It has since been treated by GTL of Los Angeles and DOES NOT LEAK anymore. The leaks caused paint to come off the swingarm, and some other areas of the frame.  There are also, “blemishes” on both side covers and gas tank.  
  • Also, the right underside of the muffler is scraped and the left has some light scratches.

So then, what’s this first year bit of Italian goodness going to cost?  A quick search of Classic Sport Bikes for sale  shows 1970’s 900SS going for around $32,000 USD a few years ago, but those weren’t first year bikes.  Bonhams had a pristine 1974 750cc version that went for about $50,000 USD a few years ago as well but that was in better condition and wasn’t a 900SS.   I am thinking  this one is going to attract attention from serious collections and wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this one go for between $45,000-60,000 USD right from the listing.

One final note- there is no Buy-It-Now option on this one.  While patience is a virtue for collectors, given the rarity of this bike I think someone is going to make the owner an offer they can’t refuse/the chances of this one being relisted are low.  To put in simply, if this one is on a list for your collection you might want to move quick.

-Marty/Dallaslavowner

 

Post Script:  Happy Canada Day and 4th of July ya’ll!!!

5 Comments

  • The 1975 Ducati 900SS and 750SS models are truly special and even more rare than the fabled greenframe 750SS of 74. While not as collectible as the 74 SS, these first square case desmos are arguabley more attractive and their selling prices are rising fast. Sadly, this particular example is a poor representation. At best, it is the correct frame (yes, true 75 900SS bikes have 750SS frames) and engine. But the vast majority of the body work and running gear is not 75 specific but either aftermarket or post 76. It looks to have been poorly repainted, even the frame, and the low mileage is hardly believable. Nice bike, but a big headache to restore to original condition.

    • Desmo- can you be more specific? What is it that you are seeing that people should be aware of? It would nice to know so when people search they might see some specific things to look for

      thanks

      marty

  • Okay then, here’s some specifiics starting at the rear. The tailight has a black base but should be silver so it has been replaced. Why? The tailight bracket holding the tailight looks odd shape but maybe not, need better photo. The rear seat cowling has all the features of a post 76 seat with the colour if the zipper and the slightly longer saddle. The curved black bracket holding the zipper in place should be chromed and it too has a slightly odd shape so may be aftermarket. The desmo decal on the hump is just wrong and it should be like the ones on the fairing. So the seat is not 75 but maybe post 76 or aftermarket. The chainguard has been cut off at the end. Why? The shocks are Marzocchi but from 84/85 and the shocks for the 75 SS are only for 75 SS( not 74, not 76) and unobtainium.. The rear brake caliper is incorrect and should be shaved caliper like those on the front. So the whole rear of the bike is not quite right for 75. Why? The mid section shows that the exhaust system, while Conti, is for later models. The mufflers lack the oval stamping ( a post 79 feature) and the brackets have three dimples ( a post 75 feature) Why? I cannot see the headers or the conti clamps but the whole system should be pretty much as for 74 but it clearly isn’t. The kickstarter is, again, post 75 and, like the shocks, the 75 kickstarter is specific in shape to 75 and unobtainium. The cabs look also from 76-79 and the correct 75 carbs are either pure round bodied 74SS or an intermediate mix of 74 and 76SS. The horizontal tach cover is black (why?) and the speedo cable routing to the front wheel is just amazing. The ignition has been moved from just above the left side cover ( you can see the empty whole) to middle if the dash where the light switch should be. The front fairing has the notches for indicator stalks to clear but the 75 fairing does not have these. Again, it is a post 75 fairing, which, judging from the positions of the screen screws, is original. But not 75. The clipons are aftermarket and the switch block is CEV from 77/78. Kinda explanis the igintion re positioning….The brake lines are not original, the NGK sparkplug leads should be KLG, the wheels need to have the full correct Borrani stampings as they are specific to the 75SS only. Wonder if the headlight is JOD duplo? Oh well..There are lots of things to check further but, you know, the bike is not a fake, it is a 75SS and so is worth restoring and perserving. It is actually quite nice as it is ‘cos someone tried to improve it with a bit of thought. Wholely original 75SS bikes are now around the $75000 USD mark so this one will be a good buy at 40 grand. But it will give you walletache for sure.

  • Desmo Kid

    Thankyou very much for your insights.

    Living in CT. I ‘ve been exposed to a “local ” dealer ” (now gone) that had quite the reputation for creating SS bikes from bits and pieces.

    It pleases me to know that there are still enthusiasts like yourself to keep it straight.

  • There’s some good books written by Ian Faloon about early bevel twins. Highly recommended to anyone before buying.

    Desmo Kid pointed out many things his books highlight in terms of originality. You cannot risk it when spending big dollars like this and agree with his findings.

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