Restoration of a motorcycle to me is an artistic challenge which is why I am drawn to Vintage and specifically Ducati motorcycles. It has come in the form of pure "basket case" projects or in the form of a bike that was changed by its original owner and the goal was to take it back to its original "glory".
Such is the case with the restoration of Neil's 1973 Ducati 750 Sport. The bike was originally his brother's Sport who painted it red because he contended that all Ducati's needed to be red. He also "fashioned" handlebars as he had elected to do without clip-on bars and had a suede seat made. I have no clue as to why.
There are so many incorrect changes that were made to this Sport that it was a large undertaking to make correct again. However, the major components were all there and Neil wanted to honor his brother who had passed away shortly after purchasing this Sport with a concourse restoration.
I have been fortunate to meet many in the Bevel Drive fraternity throughout the world and this has allowed me to seek that elusive part or to gain insight into a challenge in a given project with a fair amount of efficiency. With my extensive inventory, I have been able to help others who have been so kind to me as well. Thus, I was able to find clip-on's and sourced the correct front Scarab master cylinder very quickly. Time for the tear down.
What I discovered in the tear down was that this 73 Sport had been well taken care of despite the incorrect modifications. Putting the engine through different tests and after pulling the heads to get a sense of the "play" of the rods, it was determined that a top end rebuild would only be necessary. This was good news to Neil as he was proud of the fact that these engine cases had never been split and that they still had the factory seal wired to the bottom of the cases. This is not too surprising on a low mileage Bevel Drive engine but a nice piece of history.
After doing some additional research into the paperwork of this bike from the original import documents through service records, it was easy to see that this engine and frame had come from Bologna, Italy together and had remained together for all of these decades! As this was to be a concourse restoration, I did send the engine to Malcolme Tunstall of Syd's Cycles fame to confirm that a top-end was all that was needed. He concurred, did the work and guaranteed the engine for the customer.
To be a concourse restoration, the frame needed to be painted and the original, decades old fiberglass repaired before paint. This is an arduous process that takes countless numbers of hours to complete. Even the best paint job will not hold up if the surface is bad or if the fiberglass begins to bleed fuel gases under the surface of the paint.
After sealing the tank and making sure that the structure of the tank was solid, it was time to paint over the red and on top of the original Ochre Yellow that was originally manufactured in the gelcoat. It does take a "village" of experts and craftsmen to effectively restore a vintage motorcycle. Such is the case with my seat maker, Carlos. He replaced the suede cover with the correct vinyl and with the correct number of stitches as the original which he actually counted from an extra seat that I had. That is attention to detail!! We also had to fill the holes that had been drilled in the original Yokes/Triple Clamps for the handlebar set. Once done, the yokes were painted with crinkle paint and the holes were no longer visible.
After re-lacing the wheels with stainless spokes and nicely polished rims courtesy of Don Jose's polishing, it was time to mount the newly rebuilt/repainted Marzocchi leading axle forks as well as the rebuilt Marzocchi rear shocks to get a "roller". Once at this stage, it makes life so much easier in the shop to be able to roll the bike around. There is always a great deal of polishing and fitting of bits to be done that includes the original fasteners that have corroded over decades of neglect.
Additionally, the wiring loom/harness is checked to make sure that all of the decades- old connectors and wiring are still functional. I work with Bill Ely who is a master restorer in his own right and an electrical wiz. His "attention to detail" is legendary here in the Southwest. Any customer can leave knowing that the function of all components to include the old electrical bits from the 1970's are better than what came from the factory.
I know that all of the drilling of the front rotor is incorrect but the customer did not want that to be changed as it does not effect function and it was as his brother had left it. Therefore, we left it as well. One must love newly polished bits, fresh paint and newly chromed brackets & hardware to bring the look of the bike back to show room condition and sometimes in better condition than original. New rubber completes the package of what is all visible. However, calipers and master cylinders were all rebuilt with new internals and with new brake lines to ensure an enjoyable and safe operation of this Ducati 750 Sport.
After months of rebuilding items, polishing, painting, cleaning and then reassembling the bike, it was now the "moment of truth" for starting the engine now that it was back in the frame. Rebuilt DelOrto carbs allowed me to start this engine on the first kick. Time to adjust the carbs. This did not take too long and soon there was that glorious growl coming out of the Conti exhaust.
Neil had asked me to do a concourse restoration of his brother's 1973 Ducati 750 Sport and he and others do contend that was accomplished. However, he also asked me to market the bike for sale. As a result of that request, I needed have a quality photo shoot. John Come who is active in the local Vintage Motorcycle group has the equipment and knows of a "vintage" Shell gas station out by Tombstone and Sierra Vista, Arizona. This photo shoot turned out to be quite successful as the Ochre Yellow of the Ducati Sport and my Spaggiari Super Sport worked perfectly with the color profile of the Shell station. Some real "magic" was created that day of photographic artwork.
Ultimately, the goal of any marketing campaign was a "willing buyer" and my customer, the "willing seller" coming to an agreement as to a purchase price. Certainly, when these photos first hit the internet, there were countless "low-ball" offers from those who in my opinion do not understand the hours and expertise that is necessary to restore one of these beautiful Ducati's from Bolgna, Italy.
In Ian Falloon's book on Ducati Restoration, he addresses the significant cost to a perfect, concourse restoration. The difference between a sale of a vintage motorcycle for one price over another is due to a number of factors. Such factors with regard to the Ducati Bevel Drives is the documentation, the authenticity, the history and the "attention to detail" of the restoration. Regardless, a gentleman from Monaco who understood the value of this restoration and the "attention to detail" of this Sport did contact Neil and myself and a transaction took place for almost twice what has been offered on other vintage motorcycles. I know that both Neil and the customer are very happy with the transaction. Below is Neil on his brother's Ducati Sport before the shipping company was to come to pick up the bike.
A happy customer is the sole goal at Italian Iron Classics, LLC. In the past, my accountant and business attorney called this just a "hobby business" as I have had a day job for decades simultaneously. However, now my goal in semi-retirement is to feed my passion for these incredible machines and to create an introduction between more people and this incredible brand and its historically significant bevel drive machines. I hope that you have enjoyed the "eye candy" in these photos.
As an aside, I was told by the buyer that Mr. Falloon, himself did an inspection of our 1973 Ducati 750 Sport and we received very high marks which is high praise indeed.