Mike Hailwood Ducati TT replica auctioned
This NCR Ducati replica, identical to the bike Mike Hailwood rode to historic victory at the 1978 TT, is the star lot at the Mecum auction in Las Vegas later this month.
NCR were a tuning shop down the road from Ducati in Bologna that made the factory race bikes of the era. Unlike many tuning houses that port and polish, NCR completely rebuilt their machines from the ground up.
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They cast their own crankcases, which were both narrower and stronger, made their own cranks and rods, put in a dry clutch and built a recess in the sump for a spin on filter; all of which made for a bike that put out 80bhp reliably.
The frame and exhaust were made from thinner steel tubing, which gave them a weight advantage that helped propel them to many victories.
This particular bike was built between 1981 and 1983 by a Swedish specialist with assistance from both NCR and England’s Sports Motorcycles, Hailwood’s 1978 sponsors. It has an estimated value of between £70,000 and £95,000.
Racing an icon
In October 2018 MCN was privileged enough to ride another replica of Hailwood's '78 TT-winner, the £111,000 Vee Two Hailwood (V2H), at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
MCN's Chief Road Tester Michael Neeves said: "Using original drawings the V2H has the correct engine, albeit lightly modified with strengthened crankcases and a 1mm bigger bore. Its rolling chassis and bodywork are built with such fastidious attention to detail it’s impossible to tell from the real thing. It’s been a hard slog for Vee Two to get it right; being led down the garden path by all and sundry, but they’ve got there.
"But right now I’m not thinking about any of this. My stomach swarms with supersize butterflies and I can feel my pulse throbbing in my throat. Hand muscles are being given a workout keeping the V2H’s heavy clutch lever pulled in, as I wait to launch this $145,000 (around £111,000) machine off the line, here at the snappily-titled AHRMA (American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association) Racing 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival.
"In this one-off Barber ride I’ve been plonked at the back with championship regulars up front. I’m a little British fish out of water and haven’t got a clue who I’m battling against, or how friendly they’ll be if and when I get close. Can they carry guns on track?"