The 1940s was an extremely trying time for the Ducati motorcycle company. The conflicts from World War II had reduced the Boro Panigale plants to rubble as the year 1944 brought mass destruction. The Ducati brothers could do little but make plans for rebuilding and creating new motorcycle model blueprints for production when the war would come to an end. They were steadfast in their resolve and at the first opportunity, they began restoration of the company and production of new motorcycle lines. When the dust had settled, they rolled up their sleeves and resumed business as usual and here are the five best Ducati motorcycles of the ’40s.
1949 Ducati 60
The Ducati 60 was first introduced to the world in 1949. It would be manufactured until 1953 at which time, new and improved variant models were created. It was powered with a 60cc pullrod 4-stroke single cylinder engine that was borrowed from the Cucciolo T3. It achieved a top speed of 40 miles per hour, which made the bike ideal for commuting. The engine was paired with a 3-speed transmission and featured a front telescopic fork, rear cantilever suspension. It was popular in its day and goes down in the history of Ducati as one of their major successes on the world market after the war.
1949 Ducati 60 Sport
The Ducati 60 was a huge success for the brand, but the Sport was a step up for riders. The engine was beefed to a 65cc which supplied more power and speed. This iconic motorcycle is a real collector’s item and you’re most likely to catch a glimpse of one in a motorcycle museum in Italy, the model’s country of origin. The 60 and the 60 Sport were would be succeeded by the 65T, 65TL and the 65TS in the 1950s. It was sportier than the 60 and its predecessor the Ducati Cucciolo, and it caused quite a stir in the riding community, which was a good thing for Ducati.
1946 Ducati Cucciolo
The Cucciolo was presented to the world at the 1945 Turin Fair. This vintage bike was featured on the cover of Motociclismo Magazine the same year. At first glance, this bike has the features of a motorized bicycle, and that is precisely what it was. It’s still an iconic bike because it was one of the early models that would set the stage for the road warriors that are in existence today. The engine was a clip on style which was the design of Aldo Parinelli, a lawyer from Turin who taught himself automotive engineering. To fully appreciate the present, we must take a look at the past and this historical bike was built right after the dreadful World War II as the Ducati plant was in the process of rebuilding after total destruction from bombs and tanks which razed the building to the ground. This impressive little engine weighted a mere 17 pounds and it had an amazing fuel economy of 180 miles per gallon of fuel.
1948 Ducati Cucciolo
You can see the evolution of the Ducati Cucciolo as it began to take shape as a motorcycle within the two-year span since its introduction. It’s still a motorized bicycle, but the 1948 model had the motor mounted within the frame versus the clip on version from 1946. The addition of the forks in the suspension was a huge innovation along with a more powerful headlight. The handlebars and seat were still in their developmental stages, but this would soon change as well.
1949 Ducati Cucciolo Moto 1
The 1949 Ducati Cucciolo Moto 1 was perhaps the most impressive model that would round out the 1940s era when motorcycle production for the company was just beginning to move from its infancy stage into a more sophisticated form. Ducati bikes were evolving from motorized bicycles with the clip on engines slowly. This model gained a 1.5 horsepower air-cooled 48cc single cylinder 4-stroke OHV engine with chain drive that could reach a top speed of 64 km/h. The throttle was cable operated. It started by a magneto ignition system with the engine vertically mounted on the frame with a kick-starter. The engine was paired with a manual 2-speed gearbox and a single plate, dry cable operated clutch. The upcoming decade would see many new innovations, but the 1949 version of the Cucciolo stood on the cusp as an important link in the evolutionary chain.