1972 Ducati 750 GT
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Ducati’s basic bevel-drive 750 GT engine lasted until 1986. Taglioni’s masterpiece formed the basis for the Imola winners of 1972, and it would become the backbone of Ducati’s success in the years to come.
Many of the design details carried over from the company’s previous overhead cam singles. The “round” cases were vertically split and the crankshaft was a three-piece assembly. The cylinder heads originated from the 350 cc and 450 cc singles and the valve sizes remained the same. Coil springs replaced the hairpin valve springs.
Unfortunately, the 750 V-twin bevel gears proved extremely complicated and time-consuming to assemble, with critical lash adjustments. The camshaft drive began at the crankshaft and consisted of five lower bevel gears. The 750 had wet sump lubrication with a gear driven pump and only a gauze filter.
Ignition was by battery, coil and points, but the alternator was marginal. The engine rotated backwards and the five-speed gearbox had the lay shaft above the main shaft to save space. Bearing sizes were increased from the single, but the sliding gears were not hardened well, and fifth was prone to wear. Gearshift was on the right side, and the 1971 examples only had a kick start.
The tubular steel frame used the motor as a stressed member and overall the bike handled quite well. Leading-axle Marzocchi front forks carried a single Lockheed disc brake, while the rear brake was a drum. Rear shocks were Marzocchi, Borrani alloy rims were fitted, and the mufflers were Conti megaphones. Early gas tanks were made of fiberglass, with “dune buggy” metal flake paint and the fenders were stainless steel.
By 1972, electric start was offered and a Scarab front disc brake replaced the Lockheed unit. Smiths instruments were fitted until 1973, when Veglia gauges were introduced. Amal carburetors were replaced by Dell’Ortos, the gas tank was now made of steel and the stainless steel fenders were painted. American market examples also featured higher handlebars for a more comfortable riding position.
In 1974, new camshafts with more lift were fitted as well as new valves and rockers and quieter Lafranconi mufflers. Brembo disc brakes were also fitted and wheel rims became steel. The advent of the 860 GT model, though, meant that the 750 GT’s days were numbered.
The round case engine was time-consuming to assemble and its square case successor would be more durable. Noise regulations were also hurting its performance and the U.S. would mandate left-foot shifting by 1975. The last 750 GTs were made in 1974, except for 40 built for the Australian market in 1978. In all, a little over 4,000 were built.
The 750 GT contains most of the elements of the sporting bevel-drive twins, except the desirable desmodromic valve gear, and the undesirable riding position. The 750 GT is worth seeking out, but take an expert to assess any possible purchase.