The First Ducati Model – 1946 Ducati Cucciolo T1

In Italy, Small Displacement by Abhi1 Comment

Post Sale Update: After 28 bids on eBay, this Ducati sold for $5,676.

The story of Ducati motorcycles can be traced back to a man named Aldo Farinelli, who developed a small motor that could be mounted to a bicycle to help mobilize the people of Italy after World War II. He named the motor “Cucciolo” (Italian for “puppy”) because of the sound of the exhaust. Farinelli initially had motors produced through the company he was working at, SIATA, but demand quickly grew and SIATA was not able to keep up. They looked for a partner, and found Ducati.

This was not as obvious of a choice as it might seem now – at the time, Ducati was called SSR Ducati (note the logo on the tank above) and they specialized in the production of radio components. But within a few years, 200k Cucciolos were sold and Ducati decided to build their own in-house bike based on the same motor. In 1953, Ducati split into two firms to focus on motorcycles and electronics respectively, and the rest is history.

The 48cc Cucciolo motor in this T1 was good for 1.25 horsepower when new, and it returned a claimed 275 miles per gallon. The transmission was a 2 speed box but modern riders will be surprised by how you shift this bike. The clutch was where you’d expect, but the gear selection was done by the pedal position: put the pedals at 12 and 6 o’clock to select neutral, put the right pedal in front to select 1st, or put the left pedal in front to select 2nd! For more information, check out Ian Falloon’s “The Complete Book of Ducati Motorcycles

This example will need some work but it’s definitely one of the oldest Ducatis in the US. It has spent time on the seller’s wall as part of his extensive collection, but when he tried to pedal it down the street recently it was, in his words, “only marginally successful.” The motor has compression and seems to be yielding a spark – it ran for a brief moment. But expect to do a little work before it can be made to run regularly.

Find this piece of history in Tarzana, California with bidding up to $3,425 and the reserve not yet met (but hurry, the auction ends soon!)