Ducati is, in many ways, like the Ferrari of motorcycles. They're both Italian, look good in red, and can be expensive to maintain. They both also passionately appeal to all your senses, with their glorious sounds, performance, and sexy good looks. So of course the Ducati brand carries some heft. And there are certain elements of a Ducati motorcycle that are considered core to their brand, like the 90 degree V-twin engine and Desmodromic valvetrain.
Ducati first employed a desmodromic valvetrain on its 125cc race bike in 1956. Mechanically 'forcing' the valve to close, and not relying on a valve-spring to return it was first conceived in the late 1800s, but was not put into practical use until the 1930s. This system became known as "desmodromics," from the Greek desmos for 'controlled,' and 'dromos' for 'course.' The benefit of the system is an engine capable of higher rpms without concern of valve float. The mechanical valvetrain allowed that first Ducati 125cc single engine to reach 15,000 rpm. Quite a feat for 1956.
Over the decades, Ducati produced a variety of engine types, including singles, parallel twins, and V4s, but on March 20th, 1970, Fabio Taglioni made the first sketches for the layout of a new Ducati V-twin engine. His drawings were complete in one month, and by July -- a mere 4 months later, there was a running motor. By August, there was a complete prototype motorcycle, and by October they were compelled to re-enter motorcycle competition with their new set-up. Six months. It was their first V-Twin desmodromic engine used for racing. The layout they are best known for to this day.
Taglioni hired Leopoldo Tartarini, the founder of Italjet, to style the new Ducati. The appearance of the 750 Imola still has significant impact on the style of faired cafe style bikes to this day. Ducati themselves chose to honor the 750 Imola when they designed their Sport Classic line in 2006, even going so far as to offer a Paul Smart edition, replete with metallic silver paint over a green frame.
the 750 Imola is best known - and named for - its victory by Paul Smart, with he and Bruno Spaggiari riding them in the 1972 Imola 200 Mile race. In the last lap of the race, Smart and Spaggiari raced side by side almost all the way to the finish, but Spaggiari's bike stuttered from low fuel supply, handing Smart the win.
That race win at Imola defined Ducati's future approach to racing, with the manufacturer focusing its attention almost exclusively on production-derived racing machines.