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Ducati’s blast from the past

2011-09-23 13:54


Sifting through my emails earlier this week I came across an auction notice for an upcoming sale — not in the US this time around, but one to be held at Brooklands, surely the perfect backdrop and seminal home of motorcycle racing in mainland UK.

One of the stars of the show was yet another bike that has probably departed our shores forever — a 1965 350 SC (Sports Corsa) factory racer, one of just six Mark II bikes ever built.

Originally hand crafted for Spanish endurance racing, this particular machine was brought out to South Africa by Ducati team rider Franco Farne in the late 1960s to promote the Ducati brand locally. I well recall seeing the bike at the Roy Hesketh track in Pietermaritzburg, the spawning ground of some of our best ever riders to make it on to the international circuit.


Based loosely on the more subtle 250 production bikes, the works 350 SC boasted amongst other upgrades, a twin cradle frame, special alloy Marzocchi forks, and sand-cast engine cases that housed a close ratio five-speed gearbox, unique to the 350SC with its wider gears and longer shafts. Weighing just 117kg, the 350SC was capable of reaching 200km/h.

There’s little point in harping on about why this bike may have left South Africa some time in the eighties, but it’s fair to suggest that the CRMC and IHRO series of classic motorcycle races across Europe may well have been the drawcard.

Interestingly, the rarefied racer is to be sold with spares and original tool kit, as well as what little history is known and documented of the 350SC, and offers in the region of R400 000 are believed possible at the Brooklands sale in about three week’s time.

Taking a closer look at the radical SC motor, the cylinder head was sandcast with valve sizes of 40 and 36 mm radius. A close-ratio five-speed gearbox, a Dell’Orto carb, was fitted. The frame was a double cradle-type built for rigidity, while the Marzocchi forks were alloy in construction.


The wheels were 19" and for 1965 the brakes were by Grimeca — the best available at the time — and the fuel tank, racing fairing and humpback solo seat were sculpted in fibreglass. Although not well documented, today they stand out as some of the most desirable Ducati bikes ever made. 

If you thought these diminutive machines to be fragile, think again. London Ducati dealer Vic Camp, a regular contributor to The Motor Cycle back in the ’70s managed to get his hands on a similar machine and reportedly held the throttle open at maximum revs for several minutes to see what would happen! Thankfully, the bike survived that rather crude test …

If you happen to be in the UK around the time of the sale, Chris Hodges at the Brooklands Press Office is your contact on 01491 411777. Wouldn’t it be nice if the 350 SC was brought back to South Africa where it really belongs...

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