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Why you should be investing in a classic Italian motorbike

Investing in Italian classic motorcycles offers great returns, and takes up much less room than a classic car. The Motorcycle Broker’s Paul Jayson revs up his top picks

1973 Ducati GT750

Investing in Italian classic motorcycles offers great returns – and great fun. All profits are tax free, there’s no left or right hand drive to worry about, and they take up far less room than a classic car.

Classic car owners are now starting to snap up these Italian classic motorcycles because they offer such excellent value now prices are only at about 3% of the price of the equivalent classic car.

There’s an enormous global demographic pressure helping to push prices up. Between 1975 and 1983 in Britain alone was were selling 225,000 to 315,000 new motorcycles a year. Including used motorcycles this equates to around 1,000,000 new and used motorcycles every 12 months. The advent of hire purchase credit and the prohibitive cost of car insurance for young people under 21 years of age helped drive this mass adoption of the motorcycle.

Many teenagers in the 1970s and early 1980s who grew up riding motorcycles are now indulging in a nostalgia for this era. This in turn has created a strong demand for very rare Italian classic motorcycles from these consumers’ youth.

There are many great-looking classic Italian motorcycles for sale, but less than 10% of the machines on the market are actually investment grade. Here is our guide to some of the beautiful machines to look for…

Laverda Jota 1000 Triple

Laverda Jota 1000 Triple

W it was released in 1975, the Laverda Jota 1000 Triple was the fastest motorcycle in the world with a top speed of 140mph.

Laverda was a small, Italian agricultural machinery manufacturer which also turned its hand to building motorcycles.

The engine sound is a unique rumbling which rattles window panes and catches attention where ever it goes.

These machines need to be set up correctly and once they are, provided they’re serviced, deliver a great deal of fun and will return great profits.

Prices in 2010 were at £6,000 for investment-grade examples and now they’re £25,000+.

Beware of “cheap” Jotas as if they are not correctly set up, they can have very expensive issues to resolve.

Equivalent classic car: Lamborghini Countach.

Benelli Sei 750

Benelli Sei 750

Benelli Sei 750 was the first-ever six-cylinder production motorcycle. Owned by De Tomaso, of the classic car fame, Benelli wowed the world with this stunning, silky smooth six-cylinder machine sporting six chrome exhausts.

The Series 1 is the most collectible and striking of them all, introduced in 1974 until it was replaced by the Series 2 in 1977.

Only 3,200 of Series 1 were ever produced, making an investment-grade example extremely rare.

In 2010, investment-grade examples could be found for as little as £4,000 but today you will pay £25,000 – and it’s clear that prices have a lot further to rise.

Equivalent classic car: Aston Martin DB4.

1975 Ducati 750 or 900 SS bevel drive

1975 Ducati 900 SS bevel drive

All of these bevel drive Ducatis are highly collectible and have offered great returns.

There are two types of motors, the round case and the square case and this is the first of the square-case engine series.

The legendary green frame, bevel drive Ducati, has already gone into the hundreds of thousands of pounds and are destined for the millions of pounds mark.

The 1975 model was only built for one year, owing to new regulations about motorcycle construction. Only 260 of the 750 and 260 of the 900SS were ever built, making it one of the rarest motorcycles produced by the marque.

Very few investment-grade examples survive today and finding the unique parts is beyond challenging and unbelievably expensive.

In 2010, these were £8,000 and now they are around £110,000 if you can find one.

Equivalent classic car: Ferrari 250 GTO

MV Agusta 750 Sport 1971-1975

MV Agusta 750 Sport 1971-1975

Each MV Agusta 750 Sport was hand built – and it’s believed that only 450 were originally made. Today, there are only 120 investment-grade examples left.

There are many fakes and reproduction examples around, so make sure it’s authenticated and set up by a classic motorcycle specialist who understands them and has access to records.

MV Agusta won 37 championships with these machines piloted by John Surtees, Agostini, Phil Read and Mike Hailwood.

In 2010, investment-grade examples could be picked up for £30,000, but today they’ll set you back in excess of £140,000 and will go into the millions of pounds within ten years.

Equivalent classic car: Alfa Romeo 8C

Ducati 750 Sport 1972-1974 bevel drive round case

Ducati 750 Sport 1972-1974 bevel drive round case

These round-case engines alone took one and a half days to build when new in the factory.

There will never be a time in motorcycle history when such motorcycles are ever built again.

Until 1985, Ducati was running at a loss and the Italian government just wrote those losses off after financing them.

Only 1,685 Sports were ever produced, which leaves about 500 investment-grade examples left today.

In 2010, these would set you back just £6,000, but today expect to pay around £65,000 for an investment-grade example.

Equivalent classic car: Ferrari 250 SWB

Ducati GT750 round case bevel drive 1971-1975

Ducati GT750 round case bevel drive 1971-1975

This is one of the best and most comfortable road motorcycles Ducati ever produced.

It has the same motor as the 750 Sport, but with a softer state of tune. However, don’t let that fool you: people spend tens of thousands of pounds trying to make Vincent motorcycles go like these and they still don’t get close.

The motor itself is a work of art and the machines handle beautifully and stop very well, too.

In 2010, these could be picked up for as little as £4,000 and today expect to pay £40,000 for an investment grade example.

Equivalent classic car: Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider

Ducati 916 SP to 998S series 1994-2002

Ducati 998S

This series of machines was featured in the Guggenheim Museum’s exhibition, The Art of The Motorcycle in 1998 and for good reason. It’s a modern design icon and has an unbelievable history of winning World Superbike.

The SP series were built in very limited numbers to homologate machines for racing and they really are a race bike with lights.

Everything about this range of Ducatis is legendary as they won races and beat the might of the large Japanese motorcycle manufacturers at a time when Ducati could not afford to pay their suppliers and made only 25,000 machines a year.

These require work today to bring them up to scratch and many are forgeries, but if sourced correctly they will offer great returns.

In 2010, investment grade examples were just £5,000 and today, depending on year and specification they are £32,000-£45,000.

Equivalent classic car: Ferrari F40

Conclusion

These top ten Italian classic motorcycles will deliver great joy to own and ride and even greater tax free profits, if you find an investment grade example.

It is believed that classic motorcycles will eventually go to around 30-40% of the value of the equivalent classic car as interest in this fascinating asset gathers momentum.

If you know you can spot a fake, have access to data and know how to set these machines up correctly, then you’ll need to hunt the globe to find investment grade examples. If not, then only deal with a classic motorcycle expert who will track down the machine of your dreams.

The Motorcycle Broker sources investment-grade classic motorcycles for buyers, sets them up correctly and provides all due diligence. Winner of the Concours D'elegance at Salon Privé in 2021, its restorations are truly breathtaking and its experience in this market unparalleled.

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