Auction Ride of the Week: 1966 Ducati Monza 250
Ducati is as close to a "household name" as an Italian motorcycle manufacturer is going to get here in the United States. But here's an interesting fact: Ducati actually produced motorcycles before the Monster. Here's another shocker: Some of them weren't liter-sized V-twins. This 1966 Ducati 250 Monza is the bike that started to build Ducati's reputation as a racing powerhouse in the 1960s.
Ducati didn't even start building multi-cylinder motorcycles until 1970. Prior to that, it was producing single-cylinder bikes, a lot of which were thrown around in Grand Prix racing.
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Ducati motorcycles prior to and just following World War II were pretty pedestrian moped-like machines, but in 1954, Ducati hired the brilliant Chief Engineer Fabio Taglioni, who really made Ducati what it is 60 years later.
His first efforts for Ducati were these overhead cam, single cylinder bikes. These bikes are unique because the overhead cam is driven by a shaft connected to the crank which rides inside an aluminum sleeve on the right side of the engine.
There's a bevel gearset under a cover at the top that turns the camshaft. Bevel-drive singles and twins are immensely sought after on the open market today.
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Americans like bikes with big engines, but these singles are light, nimble, fast and fun to ride. You can pick up a bike like this and compete in the Moto Giro USA, an event that caters to sub-305cc motorcycles built before 1968.
With an opening bid of $6,500, you've got to expect that the reserve has to be well over $10,000. An example with just 104 miles just came up at Mecum's Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction last weekend and sold for $13,000 plus commission. The auction ended without reaching reserve, but it's been relisted this week.