1973 Ducati 450 Desmo

Guide Price: £14,000 - £17,000


﹒Original, unrestored example with a light patina
﹒16,875km believed to be genuine
﹒Vivid colour scheme, clip-on handlebars and racing seat give a decidedly sporty appearance 
﹒One of Ducati’s top performance models 


The Ducati 250 and 350 Desmo were introduced in 1968 and were the first road-going Ducatis to feature the desmodromic valves which would become a famous and idiosyncratic feature of the marque but which, until then, had only been employed on its racing bikes. The Desmo models were derived from the 250 and 350 Mark 3, and were identical save for the camshaft, cylinder head and valves. 

A new 450 appeared across the Ducati range in 1968, also available as a Desmo model. An update in 1971 saw that the 450 Desmo not only set a high standard for performance but also became one of the most stylish motorcycles of its day. The bike’s styling now incorporated a monoposto racing seat and cafe racer-style clip-on handlebars. The whole package was suggestive of speed, and to make it even more eye-catching, all 450 Desmos were finished in metalflake silver. The styling was again revised in 1973, but the most noticeable difference was a change to the relatively restrained colour scheme of amber and black. The last models were built in 1974, having acquired a disc brake at the front wheel. Performance, of course, was always highly respectable, the 450 Desmo being good for 99mph. 

The 450 Desmo is the ultimate Ducati single, literally and figuratively. Not only was it the last of Ducati’s single-cylinder road bikes, it is also widely regarded as the most beautiful.

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This particular Desmo is built to a rare specification, being a facelifted 1973 model with Gremica front drum brake. It is one of the last Desmos to have been fitted with a drum instead of a disc front brake. 

Little is known of its history except that it used to reside in Japan. Evidently, it has always been well cared-for and has not received or needed any kind of restoration.

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 There is no paperwork with the Ducati besides the import documents, plus it comes with its old Japanese number plates. As the seller has not applied for registration with the DVLA, this is a straightforward task for the buyer if they wish to use it on the road.

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This 450 Desmo represents one of the best examples around, being highly original and unrestored. There is a light and attractive patina across the whole bike and, considering it is almost 50 years old, the original paint has survived extremely well. The low mileage is believed to be genuine, as the handlebar grips and seat show virtually nothing in the way of wear. 

Cosmetically, here is a bike that requires nothing doing to it and it would be far better to preserve it as it is than to restore it. We very much doubt there will be another opportunity to require and unrestored example as good as this any time soon.

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Although not yet run on British roads, the vendor has not neglected to fire the Ducati up from time to time. Suffice it to say, the engine idles beautifully and we imagine it will still perform just as it did when new. All the same, it is prudent to give vehicles a thorough check when they have not seen the road for some time, so some recommissioning and a general inspection may be advisable.

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With its cafe racer looks and vivid hues, moving slightly between yellow and orange depending on where the light hits it, this has to be one of the best-looking motorcycles of its generation. While it may not quite have the performance to match the influx of three- and four-cylinder bikes that was invading the market, it will still nudge the ton and, besides, looks are the only things that matter when a bike’s parked. 

Anyone seeking an Italian motorcycle would be hard-pressed to find a better machine than this. As it also represents a landmark in styling, it would be a great addition to any aesthete’s garage.

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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1973
  • Make Ducati
  • Model 450 Desmo
  • Colour Yellow
  • Odometer 16,874 Kilometers
  • Engine size 435
  • Location Cambridgeshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
40 bids
  • so•••• £15,000 20/06/21
  • SH•••• £14,750 20/06/21
  • so•••• £14,500 20/06/21
  • SH•••• £14,250 20/06/21
  • S•••• £14,000 20/06/21
  • mi•••• £13,750 20/06/21
  • br•••• £13,500 20/06/21
  • mi•••• £13,250 20/06/21
  • S•••• £13,000 20/06/21
  • ja•••• £12,750 20/06/21

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