Holy Grail: An ultra-rare 1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1 racer

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
If it’s rare, exotic and European, the chances are you’ll find it at Brooklyn’s Moto Borgotaro. Owner Peter Boggia is a man of exceptional taste, and has a knack for hunting down the sort of motorcycles that mere mortals can only dream of owning. But the latest machine to grace Moto Borgotaro’s shop floor is really special—even by his standards.

You’re looking at a completely unmolested 1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1 factory racer. It’s one of only 18 examples built, and one of only three that were imported to the USA in 1978.

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
The Ducati 900 NCR is best known for being the bike that Mike Hailwood piloted to victory at his legendary 1978 Isle of Man comeback. Hailwood had signed on to enter the Tourist Trophy Formula One race, which meant that his race machine had to be based on a production series. So Ducati tasked their unofficial factory racing team, NCR, with building a small run of 900 NCR Formula One bikes.

According to NCR co-founder, Rino Caracchi, only 18 complete bikes and 20 spare engines were built at the time. Despite being quasi-official factory racers, the 900 NCR engines were numbered according to the regular Ducati 900 Super Sport production series. Moto Borgotaro has done their homework, and concluded that this bike, engine number 088250, was likely built as part of the first of two batches of 900 NCR TT1s.

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
The 900 NCR engine might have carried the 900 SS engine’s numbers, but it was far from stock. NCR based it on the Ducati 750 round-case motor, but with specially-cast crankcases that featured a narrow sump, spin-on oil filter and oil level sight glass. First-run models like this one also retained the 750’s bevel drive setup.

At 864 cc, the 900 NCR had the same motor displacement as the 900 SS, but with a number of internal upgrades. The race-spec machine sported special Nimonic valves (Nimonic is a nickel-based superalloy), with lightened pistons from the Italian company Borgo. The bevel gears were shaved, the inlet and outlet ports were enlarged, and the camshafts, crankshaft and con-rods were all upgraded.

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
Dell’Orto PHM40 carbs handled intake duties, just like on the 900 SS. But on the NCR bikes, they featured open bell mouth intakes, upgraded float bowls, angled vents, ‘tickler’ enrichers and space to mount a choke.

The list goes on; a dry clutch, a close-ratio six-speed transmission, straight-cut primary gears, and a Citroen oil radiator with a take-off feed that ran through the aluminum primary cover. Added up, the 900 NCR was good for 92 hp at 8,500 rpm. Good enough to win an Isle of Man TT F1 race.

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
Being a thoroughbred race bike, there was obviously nothing standard about the Ducati 900 NCR’s frame either. The chromoly chassis was not only a thing of beauty, but weighed a paltry 12 kilos [26.5 lbs], contributing to the bike’s overall weight of 160 kilos [352.7 lbs].

The running gear was as you’d expect from a high-end Ducati at the time. Marzocchi suspension was fitted at both ends, with the front forks being narrower than the units on the 900 SS. The brakes came from Brembo, and the wheels were stunning 18” Campagnolo units.

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
All of those parts are still intact on this particular 900 NCR—including the Michelin tires that it came from the factory with, the original seat padding, and the white-faced Veglia tacho. That’s because this particular bike hasn’t ever been raced. Heck, it’s never even been ridden.

Right after Mike Hailwood made history, Stanley Chan, who was the US importer for the Italian racing wheel brand, EPM, traveled to the Ducati factory in Bologna to see the 900 NCRs in the flesh. He negotiated with Ducati’s US importer to purchase one—which he then parked inside his home in Brooklyn for 12 years, starting it only once or twice.

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
Greg Rammel was the second owner. He only fired it up twice—once in his living room, where it stood, and a second time at a Ducati rally. Fast forward another decade, and Jack Silverman, a well-known collector, snapped it up. Fourteen years later the bike went on auction with Bonhams, where it fetched a an eye-watering $175,500.

This ownership journey is well-documented, plus the bike has multiple awards to its name, and a spot in Phil Aynsley’s ‘Ducati, A Photographic Tribute’ book. And if you need more convincing, the renowned motorcycle historian and author, Ian Falloon, has put together a 20-page authentication book. He refers to the bike as “a wonderful example of an extremely rare and desirable racing Ducati.”

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1
If you’d like to park this exotic vintage racer in your living room and start it once every few years, then we have good news; it’s for sale. Moto Borgotaro has listed it as ‘price on application’ though. If you have to ask…

Moto Bogotaro | Instagram | Images by Glen Allsop

1978 Ducati 900 NCR TT1

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