It’s not very often you see a vintage Ducati in such good condition going for such a temptingly low price. Go to any big auction and a mint ’70s Ducati sports bike will easily see five figures. But then again, not every Ducati has such a troubled history as the Sport Desmo 500.
Right off the bat, the significant differentiator of the Sport Desmo 500 is its parallel twin engine. Not only does it break away from the iconic L-twin setup the Italian brand is known for, but it was forced into production by bureaucrats and suits attempting to compete with the influx of Japanese bikes — it didn’t go well. When the new engine came to be in the mid-’70s, it was underpowered, uninspired and bolted on to the lackluster Gran Turismo Lusso.
But, in 1977, after the flatlining sales couldn’t be ignored, Ducati upper-brass asked the manufacturer’s prized engineer Fabio Taglioni to work his magic. He massaged a few more horsepower out of the parallel twin engine while famed designer Leopoldo Tartarini reworked the body and chassis — the result was the Sport Desmo 500.
This ’77 Sport Desmo 500 up for auction shows a few signs of age, but it’s in incredible condition for a 40-year-old motorcycle. The thing that’s really holding back the price of this Ducati is the unconventional (for Ducati) parallel-twin. It’s not the most desirable power plants the brand has let leave the Borgo-Panigale factory, but if you’re more a fan of the styling and appreciate the bank account-friendly price tag, this is the vintage Ducati you want.