Motorcycle Restoration Projects
NSW South Coast resident Allan Hawkins is a Ducati enthusiast who is lucky enough to own two of these classic motorcycle thoroughbreds.
Ducati is one of those rare machines – like Ferrari – that is capable of stirring the blood of a certain kind of rider and Allan is one such rider.
Italian creations are like works of art, crafted with great passion and enthusiasm. Ducatis are virtual son et lumière combination of a visual feast and an exhaust note at WOT that fills the air like the sound of ripping canvas – a sound that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
They are also as temperamental as their sometimes-volatile Italian creators.
Ducatis are not commonplace on Australian roads, when compared with Japanese sports bikes, but even among these relative rarities, Allan’s two ‘Dukes’ are certainly not your common everyday garden-variety.
His 1975 900 SuperSport is one of only 250 ever made and, of that limited number, only 98 came to Australia. In their day, they were among the stars at the long lamented Castrol Six-Hour Production Bike Endurance Races.
These wonderful events were held at Amaroo Park from 1970 until 1983, when the event was moved to Oran Park and ended in 1987, when the chequered flag fell for the final time.
Allan bought this bike from an advertisement in the Trading Post in 1989 and his subsequent inspection revealed that the previous owner had made a good job of refurbishing it.
A deal was done there and then, and Allan rode it home from Ermington, taking some time to get familiar with the different gearshift ‘feel’ from his regular mount – a 1975 Kawasaki 900 that he bought new and still owns.
The 900SS weighs in at a nimble 188kg, thanks in part to its GRP fuel tank that was one of the components Allan has replaced. He’s also fitted an electronic ignition conversion, to improve its reliability.
The other Italian stallion in Allan’s stable is a 1991 851 SP3. This bike is number 184 of only 500 that were built for SuperBike racing homologation. The 851 engine capacity designation is a misnomer as the actual capacity is 888cc.
This particular bike is one of 12 that came to Australia and was used for ADR noise testing by the Ducati agent, Frazer Motorcycles. It was also the first one registered and was the display bike at the Australian launch in 1991.
It was bought as a 40th birthday present by Allan’s very generous and understanding wife, Tricia.
Allan has had two mishaps with this bike. One was his own doing, which he describes as brain-fade: going too quickly through a few spots of rain and overtaking on a road that he wasn’t familiar with, causing him to brake suddenly right at the point of a bump in the tarmac, so he was high-sided onto the road and the bike slid off into the scrub. That resulted in a busted shoulder for Allan, with fairing and other damage to the bike.
The second altercation with the blacktop was on the Kings Highway, when another rider dropped his bike on a bend in front of Allan, causing him to take evasive action, bruising both him and the bike, once more requiring fibreglass surgery.
When asked what his fascination was with the Italian marque? His wife Tricia replied on his behalf saying: “It’s an obsession!”