September 10 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of famed Ducati engineer Fabio Taglioni. Taglioni was responsible for a wide variety of Ducati motorcycles, starting with the Gran Sport 100 in the 1950s through to the 1980s 750 F1.
The Ducati Gran Sport 100, nicknamed Marianna, as an instant endurance racing success in Italy. Taglioni followed that up with the 1956 Ducati 125 GP Desmo, the first desmodromic Ducati to win a Grand Prix Race. “The main goal of this system is forcing the valve to follow the timing diagram as closely as possible,” Taglioni explained at the time, “while the dissipated energy saved is almost negligible. The performance is more reliable, and the operating safety is definitely enhanced.” The 125cc single put out 19 horsepower at 13,000 rpm.
1960 started with Taglioni designing a 1500cc air-cooled powerplant for Formula 1 automobile racing. Unfortunately, the project never came to fruition. Back in the two-wheel arena, Taglioni’s triumph in the 1960s was bringing to market the enduring Ducati Scrambler—a model that enjoys great success 55 years later.
Things got even better for Taglioni in the 1970s, as he created Ducati’s first production motorcycle with the famed L-twin configuration—the 1972 Ducati 750 GT. Its close cousin, the Ducati 750 Imola, won the 1972 Imola 200 in record time before a crowd of 85,000.
Taglioni’s graceful Pantah 500 helped Ducati transition into the 1980s in grand style. His career was topped off with the Ducati 750 F1 superbike.
Ducati has produced a three-episode mini-series, Fabio Taglioni – A Life of Passion, which can be viewed on the Ducati website and Ducati’s YouTube channel (see embedded video).
The centennial of Taglioni’s birth was celebrated on September 9 in his hometown of Lugo in Emilia-Romagna, with the participants ranging from Mayor Davide Ranalli to Ducati Museum Curator Livio Lodi. Taglioni earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1943, and became Ducati’s Technical Director on May 1, 1954.