Franzen Cycle Riders, Ducati, Ducati Mach 1, Ducati Singles, Ducati 250

4 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Franzen Cycle Riders, Ducati, Ducati Mach 1, Ducati Singles, Ducati 250
Ducati Mach 1

The classified ad read:

Ducati For Sale 1967 MkIII 250 – All parts here and ready for restoration.

Serial #s match and has Mach I engine with megaphone kit.

I’d long been looking for a vintage Ducati single, but the first time I read this particular classified ad I dismissed the bike with a red flag. I’d have been greatly interested in either a Mark III or a Mach 1, but a Mark III frame with a Mach 1 engine signaled a ‘bastardized’ bike of questionable originality and little collectible value.

Besides, all parts here is a seller’s polite way of saying basket case.

A couple days later I saw the same ad again and checked the area code. The location was in the neighboring State of Wisconsin, a few hours drive from where I live. I called the seller and during the conversation he told me the engine was seized.

I’d lost interest when I learned that the engine was locked-up, and as I tried politely to get off the phone the seller just by chance mentioned that the bike had a red frame.

Suddenly I was interested again .

I knew from reading Mick Walker’s Ducati Buyer’s Guide that Mark IIIs came with black frames and Mach 1s were given red frames.

A Mach 1 engine and a red frame – maybe this bike was a bit more original than I’d first thought.

Three days later, I stood at the deep end of a storage building in southern Wisconsin looking at the old Ducati. The engine, saddle and front wheel were lying close by. My friend Trig Haroldson waited nearby just in case with his pick-up truck.

The rear tire was knobby and unbefitting of a street machine – but perhaps that’s all the last rider could find for a long ago all but abandoned tire size.

The steering head placard said 250 M3, which is why the seller listed the bike as a Mark III. But the placard also gave the engine serial number and it matched the one on the Mach 1 engine. Unfortunately, the model-identifying tool box decals were gone. The tank graphics looked Mach 1.

Mach 1s were only made from 1964 until 1966, but this Ducati’s ’67 title had seemingly originated from its point-of-sale as the steering head plaque gave no specific model year.

I thought to myself that this might be a Mach 1, but I was no expert. The only thing I knew for certain was that it had a genuine Mach 1 engine. The frame was definitely red, but why did the steering head placard say M3?

Ducati Mach 1

On this particular day, the sum total of my Ducati knowledge was only what I could recall from a very short chapter about narrow-case singles in the Ducati Buyer’s Guide. And one thing I distinctly remembered was that the book said Mach 1s were never imported to the United States.

I was really confused as to whether or not to buy the motorcycle. The seller said the piston was frozen. The tail light looked wrong for the bike. The bike didn’t have clip-ons, but it did have racing-style handlebars.

While it did have a Mach 1 engine, the steering head placard said M3 and the title said 1967.

Despite all it’s apparent faults, I knew if this was a genuine Mach 1 it wouldn’t last long. The engine and frame were mated at the factory as evidenced by the steering head plaque.

Someone else had already looked at the ad and was interested – this other potential buyer was in Chicago and was due to look at the bike in two days. I’d been having no luck finding any Ducati single, and I never expected to find a Mach 1.

I had taken Trig away from one afternoon of work, and if I was going to leave with no motorcycle I could have done that alone. I had used friendship points making Trig drive the truck to Wisconsin, I could not imagine going home, regretting a non-purchase and asking him to make the trip a second time. I made up my mind not to leave without the Ducati.

Now I’d put myself in a terrible position, negotiating a price on a ‘rat bike’ whose engine was seized, and me without enough knowledge to assess it’s real value and blindly speculating that it just might be a Mach 1.

Before long a deal was struck, and the Ducati was mine. Trig and I laid it on its side in the truck and struck out for home, and as we drove back I kept looking through the rear window at the 35-year old relic of a then small Italian motorcycle company named Ducati.

Ducati Mach 1
Ducati Mach 1

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