1969 Ducati 450 Mark III Desmo “MX”
It has been said Ducati is to motorcycles as Ferrari is to cars – soulful, sexy, and the definitive Italian approach to Building Speed. For the most part Ducati has focused on road-going machines. So much so that the bike featured here comes as a surprise. As it should. This Desmo 450 is the motocross machine Ducati never built.
But Bob Budschat did. The Budschat family owned a Ducati dealership in Seattle from 1959 to 1976. They were active in Ducati racing. Bob’s son, Mike Budschat, still considers the trophy given to him in 1965 by the Ducati factory to be “my most prized treasure from that period.” In Mike’s estimation, among the finest of the Ducati engines of the era was the 450 Mark III Desmo. His father and Boeing engineer Dick Ahrens set about creating a limited run of four motocross bikes built around this street-going engine.
They spared no expense. Ahrens employed his engineering skills to design the frame, made of wafer-thin chromoly steel. The engine received an Imola race cam and the crank was modified, increasing the stroke to make the bike a 490cc. Today the bike retains all its original parts from the 1969 build, right down to the hollow front axle and aircraft-grade titanium bolts. It is astoundingly light, just over 250 pounds. Mike has raced it, and won, at current vintage motocross events around the Northwest.