Ducati made a lot of bevel-drive twins, but the one that the Ducatisti covet most is the 1973-74 750 Super Sport. Their historical significance is huge, their looks is iconic, and only 401 of them were built.
The 750 SS quite closely resembled the Ducatis that finished 1-2 at the first Imola 200 race in April 1972, putting Paul Smart and Bruno Spaggiari in the history books, and presented an opportunity to get a race bike for the road.
Unlike the yellow 750 Sport models built in 1973, the “green frame” Super Sport engine was developed from the 750 GT. The castings were similar, but most 750 Super Sport crankcases had a plugged oil cooler outlet on the right below the ignition housing. The crankshaft had milled and fitted connecting rods like the Imola racers, as well as two ribs around the big end. The pistons were the same as the Sport, but the carburetors were 40 mm Dell’Orto and the heads had desmodromic valve gear. The rockers were highly polished, as were the 40 mm and 36 mm valves. 1973 Super Sports had black engine cases, while 1974 SS cases were polished.
The chassis of the 750 SS was the same as the Sport with its narrow rear sub-frame, but had a center-axle Marzocchi front fork and 18-inch front wheel. The twin front discs brakes were Scarabs and the rear was a Lockheed. The 20-liter scalloped green fuel tank had a clear “zipper” panel to show the fuel level and the sleek half fairing incorporated Smiths gauges. Most Super Sports were built in a single run in 1974, but several were adapted from 750 Sports in ’73.
The Super Sport was a raw, uncompromising racer characterized by a harsh ride and a firm seat. The engine, though, was willing, flexible and durable. It could run 2000 rpm higher than the 8,000 redline. Such an exotic bike was predictably and for most prohibitively expensive. While undoubtedly desirable, its $3,200 price tag meant that a number of them sat unsold in crates for several years.
At the prices these bikes are bringing today, buyers should be particularly careful they are not looking at a tribute bike or a flat out fake. Records and provenance are therefore very important. Technically there are no “matching numbers” bikes, but all VINs should begin with DM750SS “075”. Engine numbers should conclude “750.1” and the steering head should have no numbers stamped on it (as on the 750 GT). The VIN should be stamped on a gusset connecting the left-side engine mounts. If there are no polished rockers and desmodromic valve gear inside, it’s not real, and be wary of too many new parts or unexplained restoration work.