Collection of Somer and Loyce Hooker, Brentwood, Tennessee

Sponsored by: Nashville Motorcycle Repair

In the pantheon of great motorcycle engineers, there’s unquestionably a place for the incomparable Fabio Taglioni, chief designer and technical director of Ducati from 1954 to 1989. Taglioni’s powerful, lightweight sporting V-twin catapulted the status of the small Bolognese firm from interesting to legendary.

Taglioni was nearly fifty years old when his unique designs for desmodromic (mechanically opening and closing) valve gear, perfected on Ducati’s small-capacity singles, led to the development of bold, high-revving 750 cc V-twins with competitive capability. Ducati’s ascent began with the design of the 750GT. The engine’s 90-degree L-shaped layout, with both cylinders exposed to the onrushing air, virtually eliminated the common V-twin malady of overheating rear cylinders.

The later, appropriately named 750 Super Sport weighed just under four hundred pounds. It boasted fully machined billet connecting rods, a bevel-gear camshaft drive, round crankcases, larger valves, triple disc brakes, five-speed gearboxes, and a top speed of nearly 140 mph. Three of these bikes came to the United States and meanwhile, production 750 Super Sports—thinly disguised race-ready machines—became available. They were finished in azzurro (a bluish green shade that was also called “duck-egg green”) and alluminio metallizzato, with sleek, lightweight fiberglass bodywork. The big-humped fuel tank held twenty-four liters, and clear fiberglass strips on the sides allowed riders to check the fuel level. These were quickly nicknamed “green frame” Super Sports. Some 401 examples were made in total, with Ducati race shop–assembled engines.

The irrepressible Taglioni died in 2001, but not before he’d created some of the greatest motorcycles ever built. Today, the round-case 750 Super Sport is one of the most sought-after Ducati models.

—Adapted from the exhibition catalogue essay by Ken Gross

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