Press Release

A Ducati 750 Imola Desmo, One of the Most Important Motorcycles Ever Built, Headlines Gooding & Company’s Geared Online | Motorcycles Auction

This May, the auction house will present motorcycle and automobilia lots, led by the incredibly rare and historic 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmo, for its online auction.

Santa Monica, Calif. (April 24, 2024) — Gooding & Company is proud to announce a 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmo (Estimate: $650,000 – $750,000) as the headlining lot of its upcoming Geared Online | Motorcycles auction, taking place from Wednesday, May 8 to Friday, May 17. As one of only eight legendary 750 cc Imola Desmos built, and one of only seven known to exist today, the sale of this Ducati presents an incredibly rare opportunity to acquire one of the most historically significant motorbikes in the world. Gooding & Company holds the unique privilege of presenting this Ducati for its forthcoming online-only motorcycle and automobilia auction next month. Bidder registration for the sale is now open; inspection of all lots is available to prospective buyers and approved media at the company’s Southern California facility.

“As one of the most original of eight Imola racers built, this Ducati is one of the very best of this rare breed,” said Angus Dykman, Specialist for Gooding & Company. “The 1972 Imola 200 was not only a defining moment in motorcycle history, but for Ducati as a company. The technical achievements developed for the eight specially-produced Imola racers propelled Ducati to the forefront of international competition for years to come, and desmodromic valves are still used in the company's highest performance models to this day. This incredible example has spent nearly thirty years in the consignor’s loving care and is accompanied by remarkable archival photos, fascinating documentation and a report by marque expert Ian Falloon.”

Errol James riding this Ducati 750 Imola Desmo racer in South Africa in 1973. Image copyright of R.K. Edwards, Durban, South Africa. For nearly a century, the Ducati name has been synonymous with cutting-edge technical innovation, world-class performance, and stunning design. And although it achieved competition success with its smaller displacement models, it was not until the early 1970s that Ducati decided to take on the dominant pairing of Giacomo Agostini and MV Agusta in motorcycle racing’s premier Formula 750 class. Led by its legendary engineer Fabio Taglioni, the firm prepared eight all-new, highly advanced 750 cc racers for the 1972 Imola 200, known as the “Daytona of Europe”. Ducati proudly arrived at Imola with seven of the racers in a specially designed glass-sided transporter, causing widespread excitement and anticipation among the motorcycle world at large. Indeed, history was made, and in a tremendous upset, Ducati riders Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari took 1st and 2nd place, respectively, on the new bikes, ushering in a new era of international success for Ducati.

The Imola race bikes featured notable innovations, including the first use of desmodromic valve actuation on a v-twin engine, allowing extreme high rpm performance. The motorcycles also boasted strong sandcast engine cases, lightweight billet connecting rods and cranks, and an asymmetrical exhaust setup, among countless other features detailed in the accompanying report by marque expert Ian Falloon.

After its victory, Ducati sent some of the bikes around the world to promote the brand. The 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmo on offer here was sent to South Africa in 1973, where it was campaigned by Errol James at the South African TT at the Roy Hesketh Circuit. It was eventually retired to static storage at Vetsak, the official Ducati Importer in Johannesburg, where it was purchased by motorcycle enthusiast and political correspondent John D’Oliveira in 1976. In 1995, the D’Oliveira family shipped the motorcycle to the US, where it was purchased by its current owner, a lifelong car and motorcycle journalist for numerous top publications.

The eight original 1972 Ducati 750 Imola Desmos and the famous glass-sided transporter prior to the 1972 Imola 200. Image copyright of Cycle World/Cycle Magazine Archive. Since then, this bike has been carefully maintained by the consignor, and run periodically. It has also been the subject of numerous articles and a beautifully produced short film, in addition to being exhibited at some of the most prestigious global events, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® and The Quail Motorcycle Gathering, where it won First in Class and received a FIVA Preservation Award for its remarkable original condition. It was also displayed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, where it headlined the Silver Shotgun exhibit.

Among the seven purpose-built Imola racers known to survive, Ian Falloon notes that this Ducati retains its original frame and sandcast crankcases along with the majority of its original silver metallic flake gelcoat finish, which is rare for a racing bike from this era. For knowledgeable collectors of historic motorcycles, the sale of this 750 Imola Desmo presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire a truly significant piece of Ducati history and one of the rarest and exciting motorcycles ever made. The chance to purchase one of these famed 750 Imola Desmos may never appear again.

Additional lots for Geared Online | Motorcycles include an ex-Chris Garville 1975 MV Agusta 750 S America (Estimate: $80,000 – $100,000) restored by legendary specialist Perry Bushong, an extraordinary, low-mileage unrestored 1981 Ducati 900 Super Sport (Estimate: $40,000 – $80,000, Without Reserve), and a rare US-specification 1974 Laverda 750 SFC (Estimate: $40,000 – $60,000) expertly restored by marque specialist Scott Potter. The entire catalogue will launch on on Monday, April 29. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to reach out to a Gooding & Company specialist today.

Geared Online | Motorcycles Online Catalogue Available: Monday, April 29 Auction Begins: Wednesday, May 8 at 9:00 AM PDT Lots Begin Closing: Friday, May 17 at 9:00 AM PDT Bidder Registration: Website: Facebook: X: @goodingandco #GearedOnline Instagram: @goodingandcompany #GearedOnline YouTube: Phone: +1.310.899.1960 About Gooding & Company Gooding & Company is celebrated for its world-class automotive auctions, private brokerage, and unparalleled service in the international collector car market, achieving over $2.75 billion in sales since the company’s inception. The auction house continues to deliver market-leading results through both its live auctions and Geared Online platform, setting new trends and world records with best-of-category cars across numerous verticals. Gooding & Company consistently presents the highest quality consignments while operating with openness and integrity, providing the company a reputation of trust and respect unmatched in the industry. Offering a wide range of services including private and estate sales, appraisals and collection management, the auction house is ready to assist you with numerous collector car services.

Media Inquiries: Pauline Pechakjian +1 (310) 383-7437

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