It is one of the most instantly recognisable motorcycles of all time, one of the most beautiful and desired, it changed the fortune of an entire company, and these days they’re worth a small fortune. The famed 1974 Ducati 750SS ‘Green Frame’, not the standard versions that people have had painted, but those limited run of 401 machines, all built in 1974 and under the supervision of Fabio Taglioni himself. This year marks the gorgeous green machine’s 50th anniversary and with one of the only 88 sent to the United States for sale at New York’s Moto Borgotaro, we felt there was no better time to salivate over that particular 750SS and tell the tale of this incredible icon.
Perhaps nobody on earth has sold as many genuine ‘Green Frames’ as Peter Boggia, the owner of Moto Borgotaro, a revolving collection of the greatest European motorcycles, for sale to those who understand the true value of these magnificent machines. So, how much do you need to own this stunning example? Well, the price is on application, but in recent years others have ranged in price from US$150,000 to US$250,000 depending on the condition, mileage and originality. If you can find an unrestored, super low mileage example in factory condition, then you can literally expect to be able to purchase your next home with the sale.
But to truly understand why these motorcycles are so special, you must travel back to Italy in 1972 when the Bologna-based outfit arrived in the Emilia-Romagna region for the inaugural running of the Imola 200. This was a race for high-powered modern motorcycles, the “Daytona of Europe” and Ducati was still largely known only for their single-cylinder machines. Taglioni himself was practically unknown outside of Italy and yet piloting the glorious Ducati 750 Imola Desmo, against a star-studded field, Paul Smart claimed the top spot on the podium, and his teammate, ageing veteran Bruno Spaggiari, claimed the silver for a stunning one-two finish in front of a sold-out venue.
Ducati was on the world map, and they’ve never left. To celebrate, the company began selling the 750SS to the world and to truly ensure that famous victory would live on forever, those 401 race replicas were produced. Production was slow at first, limited numbers were seen in ’73. But it wasn’t until early 1974 that the one and only batch of round-case 750 Super Sports was produced. Built as homologation specials for the FIM, regulations required 200 to be manufactured. So, with Taglioni personally supervising production, he had 401 built so as to homologate the 750SS for the 1974 and 1975 seasons.
This beautiful example from the Moto Borgotaro collection is Frame number 075374 and Engine number 075338, and it is in truly immaculate condition. It also has a story to tell, sold in 1975 through an official dealer, the machine remained unboxed until Dale Boller, a Cycle magazine staff member, bought it from its first owner. Dale preserved it in its original state until October 1977, when it was acquired by Larry Burrow. As it sits today, not only is every single owner accounted for, but the bike also comes with a complete history file and authentification report. A vital piece of paper, as a non-genuine example is worth but a fraction of the price.
As the images clearly show, the bike has undergone a meticulous restoration and yet great care has been taken to ensure all of the right parts still appear. The rims are both 4777 items front and rear, and if you look closely you’ll see the correct 40mm overstamped Dellorto’s with correct velocity stacks.
The iconic 305mm Marzocchi shocks are there, as are the correct brakes and headlight. But the 750SS is so much more than the sum of its parts, the lines are iconic, set in motion by the perfectly shaped front fairing, embodied by the wide shoulders of the fuel tank and remembered forever thanks to that picture perfect tail design.
Precise and powerful, the 750SS is a dream to ride, with the Desmodromic L-twin engine with two valves per cylinder delivering power exactly the way you’d expect from its specification. It starts low, pulls even harder in the mid-range and then just keeps on going as the 40mm carbs with their open velocity stacks roar.
Famed for its handling, this is largely due to the brilliant chassis design that is both rigid and precise. Big corner speed was possible thanks to tremendous stability, but you can see why it was slow to tip in, 29° of rake is a whopping number. By the time the time the bike was reborn in the early ’90s, this figure was around 24°, almost identical to that of the current crop of Ducati sportbikes.
The ‘Green Frame’ was also very light, and you begin to realise that yes, 50 years have passed, but these basic ideas built then by Ducati are what power its success today. Horsepower and a lot of it, low weight, brilliant frames and all of the best kit bolted on in the suspension and brakes department. But as good as a new Ducati looks, and they are stunning, they can’t hold a candle to the original Super Sport.
There is simply no substitute for a machine that breaks through at such a vital time, does it in such style and remains fond in the memories of so many. That’s why you need a big chequebook to own one, it’s not the best of all time, but it tugs at your heartstrings like no other.
For sale through Moto Borgotaro
[ Photography by Glen Allsop ]