The ‘Hail­wood’ breaks cover

Old Bike Australasia - - BUZZ BOX - From Alan Cath­cart

This year’s Isle of Man TT will mark 40 years since Mike Hail­wood’s leg­endary come­back vic­tory in the 1978 TT, and to mark the mile­stone, Nan­nup, WA-based Vee Two Aus­tralia, the world’s lead­ing spe­cial­ist in bevel-drive Du­cati en­gines, is pro­duc­ing 12 ex­act repli­cas of Hail­wood’s Du­cati 900 TT F1 race bike, the pro­duc­tion run num­ber com­mem­o­rat­ing Hail­wood’s vic­to­ri­ous #12 TT rac­ing num­ber.

Vee Two Aus­tralia has se­cured the orig­i­nal tech­ni­cal draw­ings for the Du­cati’s 883cc 90-de­gree V-twin bevel-drive desmo en­gine, as well the cast­ing moulds, chas­sis draw­ings and tech­ni­cal de­tails.

“The en­gine used in Mike’s 900 F1 race-win­ning bike was a pro­to­type en­gine de­signed by the Du­cati fac­tory in the mid to late ‘70s, of which only around eight units were ever made,” An­drew Cath­cart, Gen­eral Man­ager of Vee Two ex­plains. “When Mike won the TT in ’78 the fac­tory had plans for the en­gine to power the next se­ries of desmo V-twin sports­bikes, but due to Du­cati’s strug­gling fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion, the bevel-drive for­mat was scrapped in favour of the Pan­tah-type belt-drive V-Twin, which was less costly to man­u­fac­ture. Pick­ing up from where the fac­tory left off, Vee Two Aus­tralia is now in a po­si­tion to of­fer the en­gine that pow­ered Hail­wood to his leg­endary vic­tory.” While the en­gine will be pro­duced in-house by Vee Two, the chas­sis is be­ing built in Europe, again us­ing the orig­i­nal draw­ings for the race-win­ning bike’s tubu­lar steel frame. The body­work will also be an ex­act replica of Hail­wood’s TT-win­ning ma­chine, right down to the fa­mous Castrol and Sports Mo­tor­cy­cles stick­ers on the red and green paint­work. Ex­ter­nally, Vee Two’s Ri­torno (mean­ing ‘come­back’ in Ital­ian) en­gine is an ex­act copy of the 883cc 90-de­gree bevel-drive desmo V-twin that car­ried Hail­wood to his 1978 race vic­tory. In­ter­nally, though, the mo­tor will host a full com­ple­ment of Vee Two’s up­grades, mean­ing power out­put will be much higher than the orig­i­nal en­gine. “We aim to pro­duce an ex­act replica of the bike as it crossed the fin­ish­ing line,” says Brook Henry, Vee Two’s CEO. Although Vee Two has al­ready be­stowed the Ri­torno moniker upon the en­gine, An­drew Cath­cart says the Vee Two-built Replica TT racer hasn’t yet been of­fi­cially named. “Mike Hail­wood Replica is some­thing of an over-used ti­tle,” he ad­mits. “In­ter­nally we’re just call­ing it “The Hail­wood”, though we’ll set­tle on a name soon. The as-yet undis­closed price of such ex­clu­siv­ity, that’s set to be re­vealed at the bike’s de­but in June on the Isle of Man, is un­der­stood to be in the re­gion of £100,000 or US$140,000.

(Photo: Sue Scays­brook)

Mike Hail­wood gets his TT Du­cati un­der way for a prac­tice ses­sion at the 1978 TT.

The ex-Elmer McCabe 7R AJS for auc­tion in Au­gust.

This KSS Ve­lo­cette has only done 15,000 miles in 70 years.

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