Has there ever been a sportsbike as beautiful as the Ducati 916? It’s a contentious point and a debate that will probably continue to rage long before World War 10 has wiped humans and their opinions off this planet.
Style is subjective of course, but pioneers are not and regardless of whether you think the Ducati 916 – launched in 1994 – is prettier than a Honda, MV Agusta or Aprilia, no-one can deny the Massimo Tamburini-penned model moved the design game on and established a silhouette from which all future sportsbikes would shadow.
After all, the pursuit of improving on what many felt was perfection ultimately led to the Ducati 999. ‘Nuff said.
Even so, not ‘every’ Ducati 916 that emerged from Borgo Panigale was a stunner.
If you happened to be living in Australia at the time and you had your heart set on a 916, you needed to be prepared to set your face to ‘stun’ since motoring regulations stipulated that the original pinched dual headlamp set-up just wouldn’t meet criteria for symmetrical beams.
It meant for a few years Ducati was forced to change any Australian-exported model to feature a single square headlamp akin to that of a 1980s Holden Commodore, which was dubbed the ‘lighthouse’.
Indeed, looking at the ‘Aussie 916’, there is a sense that Ducati was so horrified at the prospect of tweaking the design of the 916 so our antipodean cousins could enjoy it that it spent about five minutes reworking it.
The result is a fairly hideous botch job of the headlight being the only angular thing on the 916, being so big and obvious that it looks like a terrible aftermarket job.
Since then most owners have retrofitted the twin-headlamp set-up, which means examples of the ‘lighthouse’ Ducati are very rare to find. But style notwithstanding, as is often the case, whatever is ‘rare’ becomes valuable over time.
That’s why a variant of this model from 1997 was going for a surprising amount of money when it was put up for auction on Australia’s ‘Collecting Cars’ website. It has now been sold for an undisclosed amount, but bids were getting up to around £15,000 close to the hammer coming down.
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