Ghost in the Machine: The Ducati Utah Prototype

The Ducati museum digs out a forgotten Ducati Utah prototype, unseen for some 40 years, just for these photos.

| March/April 2016

  • Ducati Utah
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • The Utah featured lightweight Campagnolo wheels with Brembo discs front and rear.
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • Indian feathers in the tank decal were a nod to the Utah’s intended U.S. market.
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • Ducati Utah
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • Ducati Utah
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • The Utah’s 346cc belt-drive desmodromic single was essentially half of a Pantah V-twin.
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • Fabio Taglioni developed a 4-valve twin-cam 450cc single from an 860 V-twin.
    Photo by Phil Aynsley
  • The Rollah prototype.
    Photo courtesy Ducati
  • Mototrans in Spain built perhaps 80 Yak 410s. Power came from a Ducati-esque desmo single.
    Photo courtesy Ducati

Quick. Name a few rare Ducatis: The 1993 Supermono? OK, sure, many of us have heard of that one. The original 1973 Green Frame 750SS? Yeah, that one, too. OK, how about the Utah? Never heard of it? You’re not alone.

Somebody should script a movie about the labyrinthine politics of the Ducati factory in the 1970s, because it would be almost as riveting as the 1972 film The Godfather. The trouble is, like The Godfather, the plotline is so all-consuming you’d have to make it into a series.

One subplot to the amazing 1970s transformation of the Ducati factory is this soft off-roader. Dubbed the Utah, it was aimed squarely at the U.S. market, yet it was only ever shown in Europe, and then quietly tucked away into a corner of Ducati’s Bologna factory.

Now, nearly 40 years later, we persuaded the Ducati museum to pull it out of the storeroom, dust it down and allow it to be photographed. Amazed at our luck? Amazed that the factory would hold such an icon out of view? So are we. But to delve into the reality of all this we need to go back in time to the mid-1970s.



History lesson

In late 1974, some corporate bright spark decided Ducati should abandon all its established models and replace them with untested, clean-sheet designs that would cover all market segments.

Forget the steadily selling overhead-camshaft singles and V-twins aimed primarily at a niche of devoted road riders. Let’s build enduro 2-strokes, a futuristic-looking square-case V-twin grand tourer, and then some chain-driven, overhead cam parallel twins and singles. Yeah? Oh, yeah.

ceegjaymonster
6/23/2018 5:13:26 PM

I don’t understand, that Utah bike is beautiful and if they wanted to go niche before and failed, well, now is the chance to go niche the correct way and manufacture a little more of this bad boy!. Keep it low maybe like a vinyl record release. See, with popular bands new album releases the more niche markets for vinyl (metal, punk, exc.), The vinyl is regular price for the first 6 months to a year or so (15.99-$30, $50 tops), then they never print again instantly shooting them into the $100,s. “Thrice” did this well until the more recent albums. Well, the production company I should say since profits off albums go to them. Tanget now over, I could see production of a few of these Utah treasures becoming an absolutely lucrative and fun business move which can be done with the “73 green frame and “93 supermono as well Only based on the success release them I individually a couple years about like iPhones. Understand that’s a gross comparison being unrealistic but it gets my point across. That era style is in right now, friends are selling their RX’s or Harley’s and Ducati’s because they find an old school Honda that’s been taken care of and they’re the talk of the group! An ad for this old bike against of all the money we dumpt into our bikes are smoked by this $500 buy and it’s the favorite cause of the old 70s look. All this I’m talking about with my limited knowledge now being peaked and wanting to learn more leads to one point.... I want that Utah bike bad! Thanks for the pictures! Calvin James Gordon of Utah Valley


ceegjaymonster
6/23/2018 5:05:33 PM

I don’t understand, that Utah bike is beautiful and if they wanted to go niche before and failed, well, now is the chance to go niche the correct way and manufacture a little more of this bad boy!. Keep it low maybe like a vinyl record release. See, with popular bands new album releases the more niche markets for vinyl (metal, punk, exc.), The vinyl is regular price for the first 6 months to a year or so (15.99-$30, $50 tops), then they never print again instantly shooting them into the $100,s. “Thrice” did this well until the more recent albums. Well, the production company I should say since profits off albums go to them. Tanget now over, I could see production of a few of these Utah treasures becoming an absolutely lucrative and fun business move which can be done with the “73 green frame and “93 supermono as well Only based on the success release them I individually a couple years about like iPhones. Understand that’s a gross comparison being unrealistic but it gets my point across. That era style is in right now, friends are selling their RX’s or Harley’s and Ducati’s because they find an old school Honda that’s been taken care of and they’re the talk of the group! An ad for this old bike against of all the money we dumpt into our bikes are smoked by this $500 buy and it’s the favorite cause of the old 70s look. All this I’m talking about with my limited knowledge now being peaked and wanting to learn more leads to one point.... I want that Utah bike bad! Thanks for the pictures! Calvin James Gordon of Utah Valley




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