The launch of the new Ducati Streetfighter 848 reminded me of the extraordinary longevity of the L-twin motor layout. It’s been an intrinisc part of the Bologna mystique for over forty years now. The vintage Ducati here sits at the start of that lineage: it’s a factory Sport Corsa Desmo 350, and one of just six works machines in existence. It’s the machine that introduced the ‘wide case’ single, a new crankcase design that later found its way into the road bikes—and the design that made Taglioni realize that Ducati could develop the single no further. So he effectively stitched two engines together, and created the L-twin layout we know today. On a dyno, a well-tuned SCD 350 will reportedly deliver over 40 horses at the back wheel, a bhp/liter ratio that still passes muster today. The bike we’re looking at here, with engine #SCD21, only saw brief action on the track: it was used in practice for the 1968 Italian Grand Prix by Bruno Spaggiari, and was shipped to Australia a year later. Would I rather have one of these, or a modern-day 848? I’d have to think hard about that.