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Bike Review - Posted 16th February 2015
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Ducati 750 GT

Prompted by a recent feature about a 1970's L-twin 750 (see RealClassic 129), Matt Swindlehurst took a quick trip down memory lane...

Dear God, she was beautiful. I stood, stunned, dribbling with desire in front of the Sports Motorcycles’ stand at the Belle Vue Northern Motorcycle Show. The object of my desire was the newly imported 750cc GT Ducati. In my mind it rivalled that tiny handful of bikes that live up to the old adage ‘looks like it’s doing 100mph standing still’. Only this time it felt like 120.

Ducati 750 GT

The rest of the show faded into black and white as my obsession took hold. Over the next few months I took a second job in the local pub, did all the overtime I could get my hands on, and sold in quick order my Bonneville, Speed Twin and a very nice pre-war Tiger 70. I managed to raise a grand total of £800. Time to scour the small ads.

Tony Rutter, down in Halesowen, had one for sale. I asked him for first refusal, borrowed aged parents car and shot down the M6 in a blizzard. Got to the shop to be told he’d just sold it. Cheers Tony.

Despondent, I kept looking, but with so few GTs in the country, secondhand machines were rarer than a reliable Trident. But about after a couple of months I got in from work and a note by the phone said simply ‘phone Steve Wynne’. I did. I’d talked to the boss of Sports Motorcycles before and he’d kept my contact details on file.

Steve was always to the point.
‘Have you got enough for a new one ?’
‘How much have you got?‘
I told him.
‘If you can find an extra forty quid I’ve an ex-demonstrator. I’ll hold it for 24 hours.’
Time to talk to Gran about seriously early birthday presents.

The following morning I pinched my dad’s ex-WD Matchless and shot up to Manchester. Steve himself was waiting. ‘ Don’t even think of telling me you want to part-ex that bloody thing’.

He took me into the workshop and showed me a red 750cc Ducati with 3k on the clock. I took him into the office and showed him a Co-op carrier bag full of money. A deal done.

Three days later I jumped on the bus in full riding gear and picked it up.

Ducati 750 GT

The next few weeks were spent discovering the difference between fast and quick. In a straight line, the GT was good for around 110. Way behind the lads on Tridents, Honda fours and Z1 Kawasakis. But of course it’s corner speeds that count. It was Peter Williams (my all-time racing hero) who described racing as a series of straight line sprints joined by corners. Clearly the faster you go round the corner, the quicker you are up to speed on the straight.

The Ducati carried corner speed like there was no tomorrow. Wet or dry it seemed to make no difference. I rode in the main with two mates who’d bought new T140 Bonnevilles. Our first trip out was to Darley Moor, our local road racing circuit about 20 miles away. On the way home it rained – seriously. I couldn’t understand why everyone was so slow. Back at our house for the usual brew, they were both white with fear. I looked at the time for the journey. Then I went white.

Ducati 750 GT "Are you sure this is the TT course?" - Ducati Scrambler Spotted...
Classic (it says) Ducatis on Now...

That year we went over to TT. In my case it was for the first time. Steve had tipped me the wink some months previously that something big was going to happen. It was 1978. THE year.

And so we sat in glorious sunshine on the mountain section, up by The Bungalow, and watched in awe as a certain Mr Hailwood made his comeback, winning in fine style on a Sports Motorcycle Ducati. Bliss. Returning to our campsite at Kirk Michael, Ken and I swopped rides and I tried out his T140. Fast, but it handled like a dog.

It’s all about corner speed…


Archive image by Matt Swindlehurst
Posh shiny pics by Ace Tester Miles: @classicrider on Twitter

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