Very rare-issimo

Ducati’s 1971 500GP V-Twin Desmo

Words and photographs: Phil Aynsley

The simple lines of the 500’s Seeley frame are clearly seen here. Engine output was 71hp at 11,000rpm.

With just five Ducati 500GP V-twins of this era built, you could argue that what we have here is one of the most exclusive motorcycles ever made. And you’d be right.

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The 500GP development began in late 1970 and made its race debut at Modena in March the following year. Colin Seeley was soon commissioned to design a new frame for the project, which saw action in August. New bodywork that referenced the 750GT also appeared at this time.

Phil Read was one of only four riders to swing a leg over this motorcycle but even Read couldn’t bag a win on it in the premier class.

The 500’s purpose was to confirm the V-Twin concept to the contemporary (and hopefully 750GT buying) public, rather than to be a fully fledged contender in grand prix racing. While basically similar to the 750’s motor the 500’s was quite different in detail.

That honour fell to Gilberto Parlotti who took it to the top of the podium in May of 1971 (although, to be fair, that was a non-championship race in Yugoslavia and not a full GP outing).

Read more and view more images in the September/October 2019 issue of CR – on sale now!

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