The story of Mike Hailwood’s 1978 comeback season cannot be told without mentioning the 1978 Ducati 900 NCR that he rode to victory both at the Isle of Man TT and Mallory Park. Taking an 11 year break from motorcycle racing, the 38-year-old Hailwood made a triumphant return to two-wheeled racing on-board an NCR prepped Ducati 900 SS.

Making 87hp, Hailwood’s NCR was underpowered compared to the favored Honda of Phil Read, but that didn’t stop “Mike the Bike” from racing one of the most legendary races in history of the sport. Bringing out the same bike that Hailwood road on the TT course (a quick thank you to Steve Wynn and Ron Winder for the clarifications in the comments), this 1978 Ducati 900 NCR shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is comprised of the Hailwood’s race bike with a rebuilt motor from that season.

A true contender for the superlative “Greatest of All Time”, this ’78 NCR is truly special machine for racing enthusiasts as it comes from one of Hailwood’s all-time best races. Accordingly, the judges at Pebble Beach awarded it Third in Class at this year’s Concours d’Elegance.

Photos: © 2011 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • Keith

    Just finished the pictures… Was it as good for you as it was for me? Cigarette? Martini? Seconds?

  • majortom

    I remember reading about Hailwood coming out of retirement in Cycle magazine. Great story. At one point in the article Hailwood talked about the helmet company that was giving him a free lid to ride his comeback with asked if he had any preferences for the helmet. He paused and thought for a second or two and then told the companies rep, “put the hole in the front”. Made me laugh and I will never forget that. He, KR and Mike Baldwin were my only heroes.

    ok, Jim Clark from F1 was my first hero. Then I discovered motorcycle racing……

  • 305ed

    It’s a nice replica which evoked a bunch of memories of reading about the original “alien”, but come on Jensen: “Though not the same bike that Hailwood road on the TT course”… what point did Hailwood race THIS bike? Spare parts, my arse!

  • 305 there’s a HUGE difference between a replica and this motorcycle, especially when it comes to the show bike/car world, and it’s what gives this bike provenance.

  • Jensen, I saw this post on Facebook last night, and really appreciate the article.

    As MH900e owner #1157, I have a lot of love for Hailwood and his remarkable accomplishments. This bike, and these photos are pure gold. Thanks for sharing!!!

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  • irksome

    Thanks; now I have to go change my boxers.

  • ron winder

    small adjustment. it is the same bike but rebuilt engine.please contact Steve Wynne who built the machine in 1978.

    engine failed as it crossed the line at the end of the TT .
    rebuilt for the Mallory Park meeting immediately following TT where of course Mike won.

    I was the ‘gofer’ and Steve and I were both at Pebble Beach where you could have spoken to Steve.

  • ron winder

    Also please give Phil Read his proper spelling!

  • Steve Wynne

    Absolutely it is the same bike Mike rode for me at the TT 1978. I sold it to a guy in Japan, and 20 years later tried to buy it back at an auction in the USA. I was the under bidder and a very nice man Larry Auriana from NY is now the owner. Believe me I would not have bid 20 times the price I sold it for, to buy it back, if it wasn’t the real thing!

    Larry also owns the sister team bike raced by Roger Nicholls and the spare engine used by Hailwood.

    Why do folk say it is not the real bike? It has had only 3 owners, me Mr. Hyashi, and Larry Auriana, I know where it has been every minuet since 1978. Larry invited Ron & I to Pebble Beach to run the bike which was a great privilege.

    Thanks to all the nice folk who came and chatted to us during the day.

    Steve Wynne (Sports Motorcycles)

  • ron winder

    what has this advert (monster e…..) to do with these comments?

  • arthur frampton

    I saw this machine sell at at auction, about 20 years ago I think, at the Petersen museum in L.A. The tension in the room was incredible when the bidding got going. It sold for around a quarter million if I remember correctly. I always wondered what became of it. Well here it is. Thanks for showing it.

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