1978 Ducati 900SS “Cafe Corsa” for Sale

1978 Ducati 900SS Cafe Corsa R Tank

Ducati’s SuperSport bikes are truly some of the most iconic sports motorcycles ever conceived and probably rank up near the top of every Italian bike enthusiast’s wish list: racy bodywork, one of the best-looking engines ever designed, race-winning heritage, and a booming exhaust note combine for a truly involving experience.

Much is made of Ducati’s “Desmodromic” valve actuation, although it can be argued that, even by the 1970’s, it was pointless technology and offered no real advantage: plenty of machines during that period revved much higher and featured regular, ordinary valve springs instead of Ducati’s signature Desmo system that used cams to open and close the valves. But the mystique remains and this exotic technology helped, then and now, to differentiate Ducatis from other mere motorcycles and give them a clearer brand identity.

1978 Ducati 900SS Cafe Corsa R Engine Detail

Speaking of identity: when it comes to naming cars and motorcycles, manufacturers tend to round displacements up or down to come up with something that looks cool on a fender or tank, although it seems like Ducati was pushing things a bit when they introduced their new “square-case” engine in 1975 and decided to call the 864cc engine a “900”, although this particular example is packing a bit more than stock…

1978 Ducati 900SS Cafe Corsa Speedo

Aside from the new displacement and angular aesthetic for the engine, the 900SS featured updates to the bike to help it sell in the USA, including a gearshift moved to the left side of the bike and updates to the electronics to improve reliability.

The photos in the original listing aren’t the best, but the seller includes a ton of details that suggest a sympathetic and attentive ownership:

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Ducati 900SS “Cafe Corsa” for sale

This “Special” Ducati Cafe’ Racer was built by and for a known Ducatisti and collector as his personal road bike.
This is one of the quickest Bevel Drive, Desmo Ducatis ever built, titled and registered for the street. Only 78 Miles on a fresh 3 yr restoration of a Ducati with 22982 total miles at time of listing. Countless hours and an extensive list of period correct performance, handling and cosmetic upgrades were employed in the build of this special classic Ducati. No “modern” parts (with the exception of tires, battery and Mirrors) were used intentionally to preserve the integrity, ride, handlng and experience of riding this period Italian superbike / Cafe’ Racer. Including but not limited to the following:
905cc “endurance” displacement engine (88mm x 74.4mm Pistons)  increased from the standard displacement of 864cc. The 1978 models benefit from the next generation and improved (stronger) Darmah big end,  larger crank pins and upgrades/redesigns which support larger displacement and higher horsepower. 1978 models also benefit from the better Bosch ignition. “Imola” race “up-rating kit” cams” that get the top performance out of Fabio Taglioni’s desmodromics. A new 43 / 15 sprocket set  and 520 gold chain allows these otherwise “race only” cams to be used on the street and comfortable in traffic or on back road, Sunday rides. The combination is also suitable for Mulholland drive or Snaefell Mountain and makes the engine “pull like a freight Train”.  40mm Delorto carburetors, these are the desirable larger “Pumper” carbs and were rebuilt by Dave Brown.
1978 Ducati 900SS Cafe Corsa Rear Brake

There’s quite a bit more in the listing that concerns significant upgrades to the suspension and other details: it’s been thoughtfully upgraded with a laundry list of desirable period parts and modified with an eye to modern necessities like a tank treated to handle ethanol-ized gasoline. Bidding is up to $18,200 and the reserve has been met, which seems pretty reasonable considering what nice 900SS’s go for these days. 900’s certainly don’t have the value of the earlier round-case bikes, but they obviously benefit from the gradual upgrades and changes applied throughout the bike’s lifespan.

1978 Ducati 900SS Cafe Corsa Tail

It may be a bit dorky, but I happen to love Bevel Heaven’s “Gear Gazer” and would probably add one immediately after purchasing an SS. Otherwise, it doesn’t get much better than this, unless you’re looking for perfectly untouched originality.

Me, I’d rather go riding, and it’s pretty clear that’s what this bike was built for.


1978 Ducati 900SS Cafe Corsa L Side

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3 Responses

  1. Djani_g says:

    Well, it appears to be a very well put together special. It is not, and never will be, a true squarecase 900 Super Sport. Nice Black and Gold 900 SS replica based on a good old Darmah; shame the seller talks like a politician when asked about it. Nice to see Darmahs fetching big dollars and I wonder if unmolested ones are worth even more.

  2. tad says:

    Ah ha! Very interesting. Well, as with so many of these classics: frames and engines were used for many years and different models, so making replicas is pretty easy. Caveat emptor!

  3. Jess says:

    Looks like the gig is up! I passed on buying a Darmah SS a few years ago, thought the asking price was high at $7.5K. I thought the SS was a tarted up Darmah SD with a fairing and 36 or 40mm (?) Delorto’s taaaacked on. The Darmah SS came from the factory with stock Darmah heads which weren’t ported for the bigger carbs (crazy Itallions). Now regular Darmahs go for $9K back then you could pick up a good Darmah SD for $5-6K. Sheesh!