The Berliner brothers, who owned Berliner Motor Corporation and used to import Ducati into the U.S., among several other brands, in 1959 asked Ducati to build a motorcycle to compete with Harley Davidson for the police motorcycle business. After some discussion, Ducati finally agreed to the idea and a few years later produced the V4 powered Apollo. The engine displaced 1256cc and produced 100 horsepower, quite a bike in those days.
Unfortunately, the engine was more than tire technology of the time could handle and the Ducati test rider was the first of many to discover the fun of having the rear tire blow out at speed. Lowering the power output to 80 horsepower and finally 65 horsepower seemed to fix the problem but at those levels, the motorcycle didn’t have enough of an advantage over rivals, including BMW, to justify tooling and production, at least that’s what the finance people at Ducati said, so the project was shelved.
I came across this photo among the many Denny sent me from his trip to Italy, he took this one in the Ducati Museum. I wasn’t really familiar with the Apollo but this engine looked pretty cool so I had to find out what it was all about. Along with the Ducati inline 4 cylinder on display in the Morbidelli Museum, Ducati made more multi cylinder engines in past years than many are aware of. Interesting.
Thanks for the photo, Denny!