One of the hottest Ducatis ever was trapped in this crate for 20 years

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Photo: Bring a trailer

This morning I found myself doing my regular car sales website scrolls when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. At first glance, it looked like people were bidding on a wooden crate on Bring a Trailer for $35,000. Then it hit me, it’s not just a crate. Beyond those wooden walls is an unassembled 2002 Ducati MH900e, one of the hottest Ducati ever to hit the road.

Ducati is known for creating functional works of art and picking just one is a torturous exercise at best. Some Ducati fans refer to the 916 as the manufacturer’s finest. Others might throw the Panigale V4 over there. But if you want your heart to melt, a Ducati stands above them all: the MH900e.

Let me make your heart leap like someone who’s madly in love:

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Now that I have your attention, you’re probably wondering why this first machine looks like it’s time-skipped from the 1970s.

The MH900e started life as a sketch that was presented at the International Motorcycle Show (INTERMOT) in 1998. As reported by Silodrome, designer Pierre Terblanche was inspired by the 900SS ridden to victory in the Isle of Man TT in 1978. This race bike was ridden to an unexpected victory by none other than Mike Hailwood, a famous racer who had retired from mainstream racing for 11 years at the time. The MH900e pays homage to Hailwood’s 900SS and does so with impeccable style.

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Ducati decided to measure interest in the bike by publishing a questionnaire on its website. Remember, this was in the late 1990s, when Internet users listened to the wonderful sounds of dial-up modems and heard “You’ve got mail!” once online. A questionnaire back then was something different.

The public loved the MH900e and wanted their own, so Ducati decided to put the bike into production, limiting it to just 2,000 units. In another departure from the norm, the MH900e was also sold online through Ducati’s website. The orders went online on January 1, 2000 at midnight one minute. Although the era was in the infancy of the internet, the bike sold out in just 31 minutes.

One was crated and shipped to Rockville Harley-Davidson in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Image for article titled One of the hottest Ducatis ever was trapped in this crate for 20 years

Photo: Bring a trailer

If you’re wondering how a new Ducati ends up at a Harley dealership, you’re not alone. The dealership is part of Battley Cycles, which includes BMW and Ducati.

The bike remained in its crate and unsold ever since. Taking a look at the images in the Bring A Trailer section SEOthis MH900e is even still covered with the plastic in which it was packed at the factory.

Image for article titled One of the hottest Ducatis ever was trapped in this crate for 20 years

Photo: Bring a trailer

Buried somewhere in that crate is a Ducati 904cc air-cooled L-twin. This engine is good for 74 hp and 56 lb-ft of torque. It’s bolted to a trellis frame that uses the engine as the stressed member. The listing indicates that this motorcycle was in no way prepared for delivery. In fact, the odometer mileage isn’t even known since no one bothered to power it up.

If the buyer ever chooses to open the crate and build the bike, they will first find what appears to be minor paint rub damage.

Image for article titled One of the hottest Ducatis ever was trapped in this crate for 20 years

Photo: Bring a trailer

It would be nothing compared to having to wake up an engine that had been idle for 20 years. You’ll be dealing with all kinds of old rubber, from belts to all kinds of gaskets and hoses. And I hope the motor itself is not stuck.

The MH900 Evoluzione cost around $18,000 when new, or $30,829 in today’s money. A 1,400 mile MH900e sold by the seller this month has left for $41,000 while one with just 2 miles sold for $43,224. The price to have one still new in its crate? It is currently $35,000 with six days to go on Bring a Trailer.

About Lillian Coomer

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