Tagged: 200

Like a Fly Trapped in Amber: 1959 Ducati Elite for Sale

1959 Ducati Elite 200 R Side

This jewel-like Ducati Elite is more of an object d’art than a living, breathing motorcycle. Like the titular bug embedded in fossilized tree sap, the world has passed this little time capsule of a motorcycle by, leaving it perfectly preserved, but very dead.

1959 Ducati Elite 200 L Side

Which is a shame: these little Ducatis were created with the same passion as their larger siblings and were often very competitive in small-displacement racing classes. Introduced in 1958 and displacing 204cc, the Elite was light, sporty, and very sexy. With 18 flexible horses and a four-speed gearbox, it could reach almost 90mph, a pretty impressive number for such a small machine.

And even if it could barely go around corners, just look at that beautiful “jelly mould” tank and striking paint scheme! With all the retro designs Ducati has tried over the years, I’m surprised they’ve not yet tried to recapture this little darling.

1959 Ducati Elite 200 R Side Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1959 Ducati Elite for Sale

This Ducati Elite came from the incredible RM Sothebys Monaco auction of 2012, from the Carlo Salterelli Collection in conjunction with the Ducati factory. This auction was much publicized in the motorcycle press for the unprecedented scope of Salterelli’s collection from it’s earliest single cylinder Ducatis to some of it’s finest v-twin and single racers. There’s much information online which can be easily searched regarding this incredible collection and auction. After winning the auction this motorcycle was shipped to Los Angeles and placed in my office to be enjoyed as a motorcycle sculpture.

I’ve never attempted to start this bike, but it does have good compression and can select all gears with ease. I have just enjoyed it’s pleasing lines. I’ve attached the images of the catalog and I feel that the auction company’s description is apt and the accompanying photographs best describe the motorcycle better than I can.

It has minor nicks, scratches and blemishes but no major-offending issues. It is a very beautiful bike and I think the new owner will be pleased with this incredibly rare motorcycle, with the excellent provenance of coming from the Salterelli Collection (an ex-Ducati factory works racer, test rider and factory based dealer).  It would be impossible to duplicate such history and factory connections that this motorcycle has. The auction catalogs and all accompanying paperwork will be included in the bike’s sale. There is no title, but a Bill of Sale only, as it has never been registered in California.

1959 Ducati Elite 200 In Situ

These are beautiful little motorcycles and although I appreciate that some collectors have saved these for posterity, keeping them in visually perfect condition, I feel like it completely misses the point. Certainly, there are show bikes and cars meant to be barely functional metalwork confections that aren’t intended to be used on the road.

But the Elite combines both show and go in what was originally a relatively affordable, practical package. This is a very nice example, but I hope the next owner spends the time and money to get it back on the road where it belongs.

-tad

1959 Ducati Elite 200 Dash

The Other Bike from Bologna: 1953 Mondial 200 Sport

1953 Mondial 200 Sport R Side Front

History is littered with the corpses of car and motorcycle manufacturers that didn’t survive various economic crises and paradigm shifts and, unfortunately, boutique manufacturer Mondial is listed amongst the fallen. While we normally associate the failure of a manufacturer with the quality of their products, it’s generally far more complicated than that. The 1960’s saw a glut of cheap, incredibly well-engineered motorcycles from Japan flood a market formerly dominated by the European manufacturers that had grown by leaps and bounds in a postwar economy bolstered by the demand for inexpensive wheeled transportation.

1953 Mondial 200 Sport R Side Rear

Although the handling of these inexpensive machines was pretty far off the standard established by the racebred motorcycles from England and Italy, for most people, that hardly mattered, and quality, reliability, and even cheap speed trumped the cornering prowess of bikes from companies like Mondial.

Mondial built motorcycles from 1948-1979 and were very successful in Grand Prix racing during the 1950s. Although most Italian manufacturers of this period focused their efforts on practical, affordable transportation, Mondial was much more interested in building small-volume, high-quality motorcycles with a more sporting intent. Perhaps could be considered the Velocette of Italy. With handbuilt quality and performance, they could perhaps be thought of as the Italian equivalent of Italy and even designed and built a desmodromic cylinder head before Ducati, although it was never actually produced.

1953 Mondial 200 Sport L Side Engine

From the original eBay listing: 1953 Mondial 200 Sport

1953 Mondial 200 Sport in very nice restored condition. Everything has been redone. Motor was rebuilt in Italy and runs and shifts fine. Bike went through an extensive cosmetic restoration. All chrome has been redone and all aluminum has had many hours of polishing. Bike comes with a clean title. Any questions about the bike you can contact me directly. This is a super rare bike and a great opportunity to add to any bike collection.

Interestingly, the year 2000 saw a brief revival of the Mondial name and the creation of a Honda RC51 -powered superbike. This unusual engine choice was only possible because in 1957, Mondial provided Honda with one of their winning racebikes to use as inspiration. Honda wanted to repay the gesture and allowed the new Mondial superbike to use their engine.

1953 Mondial 200 Sport L Side

With its striking red and gold paint, this might easily be mistaken for a 50’s Ducati, although Mondial’s traditional colors were generally silver and blue. Bidding is active on this little Mondial, with just one day left on the auction. At $7,700 the reserve has been met, which seems a fair price for such a good-looking, unusual motorcycle.

-tad

1953 Mondial 200 Sport R Side