Yellow One-Lunger: 1975 Ducati 350 Desmo for Sale!

1975 Ducati 350 Desmo R Side

Today, Ducati’s famed “Desmo” valvetrain features across their entire range, giving them something to crow about in their marketing material, something for bench-racing affectionados to brag about, something that adds just a bit to the symphony of noise these bikes make. But with today’s streetbikes that can rev to 16,000rpm and still go 16,000 miles between valve adjustments, there’s really little practical advantage to Ducati’s avoidance of valvesprings.

These days, the biggest limiting factor for Ducati motors is piston speed, not valve float.

1975 Ducati 350 Desmo L Side Detail

But in the 1950’s, when “hairpin” valve springs were still regularly used and metallurgy was less advanced, there was a definite performance advantage for a desmodromic system. Most cars and motorcycles use the lobes of cams or pushrods to open valves, and springs to close them. But at high speeds, springs just can’t close the valves fast enough before the cam pushes them back open, leading to “valve float” where the valves never actually close all the way. In addition to the obvious performance problems this can generate, pistons can actually strike the open valves, causing catastrophic failure.

1975 Ducati 350 Desmo Dash

Designed by Fabio Taglioni and first applied to the 1956 125cc race bike, Ducati’s desmodromic system uses cams to both open and close the valves, completely eliminating float and allowing for very precise tuning. In 1968, Desmo performance came to the street and was eventually available in 250, 350, and 450 flavors. The 350 was actually 340cc’s with 10:1 compression and a 5-speed box.

1975 Ducati 350 Desmo R Side Detail

Interesting, the 250 and 450 models were far more flexible on the street, with the 350 the hot-headed middle child. The bike could top 100mph easily in stock form and was just about ready to go racing right out of the box: just add a bigger carburetor and megaphone exhaust.

From the original eBay listing: 1975 Ducati 350 Desmo for Sale

An exceptional example of an original yellow 350 Desmo Single. Designed by Italian designed, Tartarini, these Desmos were the pinnacle of Ducati’s single-cylinder design and performance. Restored by current owner approximately 20 years ago with limited mileage since then.

Bike comes with 36-spoke Borrani alloy rims, four-leading-shoe Grimeca front drum brakes, and 32 mm Dellorto SSI remote-float racing carburetor. Engine was disassembled, inspected and rebuilt with new parts as required, including 76.4mm high-compression piston and electronic ignition. Starts and runs perfectly.

Includes original parts (not pictured) such as steel chain guard, engine brackets and front brake stays. Other minor engine spares also included.

1975 Ducati 350 Desmo L Rear Suspension

This particular example is finished in classic Ducati yellow, that’s almost orange. Yellow is a color that’s so easy to do badly, but this particular shade is a very rich, evocative color. Shouty and just a bit “look-at-me” but classic and subtle at the same time: it’s easily my favorite yellow and a great match for the bike. I also love the gauges that swing underhand in a more British style, but with classic Italian markings.

At $12,000 currently with the Reserve Not Met, I’m curious to see what this sells for. Most 60’s and 70’s Ducatis are not Desmos and feature regular valve springs, and the early Desmos have been highly valued for some time.


1975 Ducati 350 Desmo Cockpit

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2 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    The price of these bevel drive single and twin Ducks (and Pantahs) have really increased since 2009. I remember you could get a good 900 SS for $12K. I wonder what is driving up the market in the US? Foreign bidders perhaps?

  2. tad says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if foreign bidders had a role in it: it seems WAY easier to transport classic bikes across borders and it’s certainly cheaper for shipping. But mostly, I’d guess it’s the same thing that always drives prices: rarity and desirability. I’m always amazed at the prices certain vehicles command, considering what others from the same year, with similar rarity command. These things are worth what people are willing to pay: the fact that a relatively common 65 Mustang can fetch anywhere near what a Pantera is worth is sort of amazing to me, but I guess there are fewer baby-boomers looking to relive their childhood Pantera fantasies…

    For the longest time, you could pick up a Maserati Ghibli for under $30k, while the competing Ferarri Daytona was fetching ten times that.

    I think a big part of it is that, as certain models become highly valued and unobtainable, buyers shift to the bargains, and that drives prices up. Also, as these things get older, they do get rarer: formerly “cheap” Ducatis that have been well cared-for become rarer, as abused examples die and get parted out.

    Just guesses.