1982 Ducati MHR
The Mike Hailwood Replica Ducati
George Spelvin's 1982 Ducati MHR.
Photo by Robert Smith
Years produced: 1979-1985
Number produced: 7,169
Claimed power: 63hp @ 7,400rpm (1982)
Top speed: 130mph (est.)
Engine type: 864cc desmodromic SOHC air-cooled V-twin
Weight (dry): 463lb (210kg)
Price then: $6,400 (approx.)
Price now: $8,000-$20,000
MPG: 40-50 (est.)
Hollywood could never have written a better script. And who knows — with the success of The World’s Fastest Indian, they might just make the movie of “Mike the Bike” Hailwood and his 1978 Isle of Man TT comeback triumph. If not, at least the Ducati MHR allows you to look a little like Hailwood when you're crusing down the street.
Mike Hailwood, one of the most celebrated racers of all time, was effectively pushed out of top-level motorcycle racing in 1968 when Honda ended its involvement in GP and then enforced a no-compete clause in Hailwood’s contract to make sure he didn’t ride for anyone else.
So “Mike the Bike” became a car guy, racing in 4-wheeled Formula One for Reg Parnell, John Surtees and Bruce McLaren. He quit in 1974 after badly injuring a foot in a crash at the Nürburgring. In 1978, then living in New Zealand and bored with retirement, Hailwood let it be known he might ride again.
But why would any racing team, even the small-time Sports Motor Cycles operation based in Manchester, England, want to hire a superannuated rider with a gammy foot and a noticeable paunch who hadn’t twisted a grip competitively in 11 years? Good question.
Read Alan Cathcart's experience of road testing Mike Hailwood's original Ducati 900TT1
Stanley Michael Bailey Hailwood was born in 1940 into a motorcycle family. His father was a partner in a successful chain of motorcycle stores and was himself a talented rider — though he chose to race cars instead. Young Hailwood started on bikes early, and entered his first race at age 17. And though his father’s deep pockets meant he never lacked for machines to ride, Hailwood’s precocious talent was obvious from the start. In his first visit to the Isle of Man in 1958, he entered in all four solo classes: the Ultra-Lightweight (125cc), Lightweight (250cc), Junior (350cc) and Senior (500cc). His worst finish was 13th in the Senior, and he finished third in the 250cc race behind Carlo Ubbiali and Tarquino Provini. By the end of the season, Hailwood was British champion in three classes, fourth in the world 250cc championship and sixth in the 350cc class. He’d won 74 races and set 38 new lap or race records. He was 18 years old.
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