Fabio Taglioni, founder of Ducati’s trademark desmodromic valve system, produced in 1955 what is considered to be the company’s first race bike, the 100cc Marianna. The third iteration of the Marianna was christened the Formula 3, and, in 1958, only 40 Formula 3 factory production racers were made. While most were sold in their native Italy, a few made their way to Britain, and even fewer were imported to the United States.
American collector Guy Webster’s restored Formula 3 captures the full stride of Ducati’s racing philosophy as expressed in a street motorcycle. Formula 3s came equipped with a bump saddle seat, clip-ons, and number plates ready for on-track application. Race functionality extended to the bike’s sand cast aluminum engine cases, straight cut gears, megaphone exhaust, and scooped Amadoro brakes.
Uniting the worlds of street and track racing, the Formula 3 pre-figured the now-routine practice of incorporating high performance components into street bikes. The Formula 3’s capabilities were validated through numerous worldwide racing victories, and by infusing their street bikes with race-proven technology, Ducati initiated a tradition that continues to this day.
(Click images to enlarge)