Considered by many enthusiasts to be the last of the ‘real’ Ducatis, the race-styled 750 F1 first appeared in 1985. Ducati had already enjoyed considerable success with its Pantah-derived F2 racers in FIM Formula 2 racing – Tony Rutter winning the championship four-times running between 1981 and 1984 – so a ‘750’ version was the logical next step.
First seen in prototype form in endurance races in 1983, the F1’s 748cc engine was the latest in a long line of stretches applied to the original 500c ‘belt drive’ Desmo unit that had first appeared in the Pantah in 1979 – a street-legal updated version of the mid-’80s TT1. A markedly over-square design of 88×61.5mm bore/stroke, the F1 engine produced around 60bhp and functioned as a stressed element within the frame, the swinging arm pivoting in the rear of the gearbox. Clearly visible above the deliberately cut away fairing sides, the aforementioned frame attracted almost as much attention as the engine: a trellis of short, straight tubes, it has formed the basis of every road-going Ducati since, as well as the first Desmosedici Moto GP racers. In the fashion of the day, the F1 came with a 16-inch front wheel, while braking power was provided by state-of-the-art triple Brembos. The stock F1 was complemented by a series of hand-built, limited edition, race replicas – Montjuich, Santamonica and Laguna Seca – the last inspired by Marco “Lucky” Lucchinelli’s famous ‘Battle of the Twins’ race victory at Daytona in 1986. Today the evocatively named F1 and its derivatives are highly prized by Ducati collectors.
Much like the Montjuich, the Laguna Seca came with bigger Dell’Orto carburetors, higher compression ratio, bigger valves, and straight-cut primary drive gears. And talk of 95bhp at 10,000rpm! But unlike the Montjuich, it came with a larger, quieter muffler.
There were some small changes between the two bikes, namely in the Laguna’s parts from the new Paso. The delta-spoked one-piece 16-inch Oscam wheels and the brake discs, but not the four-piston ‘racing’ Brembo front calipers, came from the 750 Paso, as did the wider front fender. Other changes included a ‘Lucky’ signature steel gas tank, revised foot peg bracketry and a plastic rear sub-fender attached to the swing arm. Most Laguna Secas came with a solo seat and were built in limited numbers (perhaps as few as 296.)
This 6,500-mile Laguna Seca is essentially original apart from an upgraded rear Ohlins shock and indicators and front brakes; and outwardly is in very good, unrestored condition. It has been enjoyed as part of a specialty collection of sport bikes. Having just been fully re-commissioned and serviced, the bike starts and runs well, though is traditionally cold-blooded. Once warmed the bike idles perfectly and runs exceptionally well. It shifts through all gears smoothly and all cycle parts work as they should with strong brakes and taut suspension. The Ohlins makes a huge difference.
This rare, special milestone model in Ducati’s history would make a fantastic addition to any discerning collection.