Starting in Italy as an electrical components company, Ducati Electronica became Ducati Mecchanica, branching into light engine production after WW2. Production of the Cucciolo bicycle motor (made under license) proved so successful Ducati decided to create and market their own motorcycle in the early 50s. It was an uninspiring four-stroke pushrod single that nevertheless sold decently. Needing something more mechanically inspiring, Ducati hired Ing. Fabio Taglioni away from Mondial, and this man would change Ducati forever, as all enduring Ducati designs from that point forward would bear his indelible and brilliant signature.
Taglioni’s overhead cam singles were far ahead of their time. Beginning as a 100 cc racer (the Marianna), production versions steadily increased in displacement from 125 cc, to 160, 175, 200, 250, 350 and 450 cc variants, built well into the 70s. Such iconic models as the 200 Elite, the 250 Diana and the 450 Scrambler command great money today for restored examples. Only towards the end of production did the bevel drive singles start showing their age. But by then Ducati had moved on to the bevel twins.
The 750 GT, 750 Sport, and particularly the 750 Super Sport V-twin models garnered worldwide acclaim for their artistic beauty, amazing torque and world-class handling. Desmodromic (desmo) valvetrains became synonymous with the Ducati name and were soon adopted for all engines. Later models such as the 900 Darmah, Mike Hailwood Replica and 1000 Mille (the last of the bevel twins) sold well enough to fund the production of Taglioni’s last creation, the 500 Pantah, the first belt-drive desmo engine ever produced. As of 2009, all Ducati products still owe their architecture to Dr. T’s inspired motor.
Ducati today, is arguably the premier motorcycle manufacturer of Italy.