Ducati 100 Gran Sport "Marianna"




Make Model

Ducati 100 Gran Sport "Marianna"


1955 - 58


Four stroke, single-cylinder, OHC, shaft and bevel gears, 31 mm inlet valve, 27 mm exhaust valve


99.66 cc / 6.08 cu in
Bore x Stroke 49.4 x 52 mm
Compression Ratio 8.5:1
Cooling System Air cooled
Lubrication System Forced oil sump


Dell'Orto SS1, 20 mm


Battery coil



Max Power

6.7 kW / 9 hp @ 9000 rpm


Wet, multi-plate


4 Speed

Final Drive



Single tube, open cradle frame in tubular steel

Front Suspension

Hydraulically damped telescopic forks

Rear Suspension

Swingarm, dual shocks

Front Brakes

Drum, Amadori

Rear Brakes

Drum, Amadori

Front Tyre

2.75 -17

Rear Tyre

2.75 -17


1250 mm / 49.2 in

Dry Weight

80 kg / 176 lbs

Top Speed

130 km/h / 81 mph

When you consider the source, the 1955 Ducati Gran Sport "Marianna" was a most improbable machine. Two decades earlier, Ducati had been making radios, not motorcycles. Nine years earlier, in 1946, when Ducati came out with its first motorbike, it wasn't fierce or outlandish but a cute, two-horsepower gas-sipper called the "Cucciolo" ("puppy" in Italian).

But, by 1954, an engineer named Fabio Taglioni had joined Ducati, and his brilliant aesthetic sense combined with his genius for motor-making transformed the firm into a design and motoring tour de force. In 1955, the Gran Sport was only a 100cc bike with a four-stroke, single-camshaft engine, but by late 1956, Taglioni had developed a triple-camshaft "Desmo" 125cc Gran Premio racing bike capable of a screaming 12,500 rpms--unheard-of revs in those days.

But even before the Gran Premio, competition had proved the brilliance of the Marianna--so nicknamed because Taglioni's 1955 design was approved for production during the Catholic celebration of St. Mary. The Marianna blew away the competition at its first race and went on to dominate world competitions until the start of the 1960s. The bike was particularly successful at Milano-Tarantos and also won at three straight Giro Motociclistico d'Italia (Moto-Giros) endurance races that ran for five straight days. By the way, although the Gran Sports never had large displacements, they weighed less than 180 pounds and could easily run to 120mph. -- Michael Frank