1950s Ducati Gran Sport | Motorcycle History
Ducati Marianna Era
With sales of the 1946-1958 Ducati Cucciolo booming, Ducati turned its attention to racing. It was with the Gran Sport motorcycles – affectionately called the Ducati Marianna – that Ducati began its racing success. The Ducati Marianna immediately became unbeatable, rendering the name Ducati synonymous with victory in the racing world.
Associated with reliability, durability and victory, the Gran Sport versions were designed for long distance races, including the Tour of Italy and the Milan-Taranto, two exhausting competitions covering thousands of miles during which there were no stops allowed due to mechanical faults. So competitive was the Ducati Marianna that with just a few minor adjustments they could be used on racetracks worldwide by ambitious private riders, thus becoming the backbone of the 125 class for that period, first in Italy and then in the World Championships.
And finally, the Ducati motorcycle’s unforgettable design – created by the legendary Fabio Taglioni – made the Gran Sport truly unique. The Gran Sport Family formed the basis of the modern Ducati Gran Prix motorcycles representing the mechanical exclusiveness, which to this day distinguishes the Ducati brand from the rest.
The 1950s also witnessed great activity on behalf of motorcycle manufacturers who at that time were deeply committed to both winning world records and promoting sales of mass-produced motorcycles. In November of 1956, on the raised track at Monza, riders Mario Carini and Santo Ciceri took turns on the Siluro (torpedo), powered by a 98 cc engine with single overhead camshaft – also seen on the Gran Sport used in track and road competitions. By the end of the session, 46 world records had been broken, not just in the 100cc class, but those in the 125cc, 175cc and even 250cc classes.