Yes Feejer knew and quite quickly. It is a DUCATI APOLLO.
The bike had a 1260cc engine with overhead 2 valve, pushrod controlled heads. The carburetors were, as Auzolay correctly found out, Dellorto 32 mm racing carburetors with separate gasoline chambers. The gearbox was 5-speed and the bike was heavy 270 kg. Initially the engine had 100hp at 7000 rpm compared to Harley Davidson:s, Norton:s, Triumph:s, BSA:s +/-50 hp at that time. Quite a huge difference at that time!!! The bike had 12 V electrical system and it even had an electric starter.
The Berliner brothers, importers in the US, requested shaft drive, but Ducati’s chief engineer Taglioni didn’t trust shaft drive so he put a duplex chain as transmission.
The specifications of the Apollo could even stand a comparison with bikes today.
The huge performance was also the biggest problem. Pirelli couldn’t manufacture tires that could handle the power. After a huge high speed crash on the Autostrada because of an exploding tire, the power was reduced to 80hp by fitting smaller 24mm carbs. Since the bike still outperformed the tires, the power was further reduced to 65 hp. The tire problem was partly caused by the US police bike specifications that stipulated that the tires must be 16 Inch. I also wonder how the bike was to drive. Look at the “huge” drum brakes and the suspension and image 100 hp…..
The “Berliner” tag came from the American importers name Berliner Motor Corporation. The company was owned by two immigrated Hungarian born Jewish brothers who where Auschwitz prisoners but survived because the Nazis needed them to repair their trucks and the brothers were very good mechanics. In US they started to distribute Zundapps and when they needed bigger bikes they started to import Ducati one cylinders. On the request of Berliner Motors they developed the Apollo (the Apollo name taken from the American space program) mainly trying to have the police to buy them. The police was allowed to buy other bikes than Harley but the government made specifications were “tailored” for Harley.
Anyhow the Ducati interest in the project was fading and at the same time Berliner Motor had taken up the import of Moto Guzzi. At the Moto Guzzi factory in Mandello Del Lario, the Berliner brothers saw a project were Moto Guzzi tried to fit a V-twin vertically in a motorcycle frame. The engine was originally developed for the army for a three wheeler jeep and the later the engine was put in a motorcycle frame and the bike was mentioned for the army/police. Anyhow the Berliner brothers urged Moto Guzzi to make civil version and they intended to offer this bike to the American Police. This Berliner brothers’ interest was what Moto Guzzi needed to go further with the project and in this way it gave birth to the Moto Guzzi brand, known for their vertically fitted V-twins, that we know today. The Berlin brothers influenced the US market and thus the total Motorcycle Industry, in many ways. Many Ducati models, for example the Ducati Scramblers were made on their request, most of the first V2 Moto Guzzis up to the 850 Le Mans had designs ordered by the Berliner Brothers, Norton models like the 750 Atlas was a “Berliner” products, as was many Matcheless models. The Berliner Motor Corporation went out of business in 1984 leaving behind a rather ruthless and money minded memory.
The Apollo project was buried and only two prototypes were manufactured. Officially only one still remains in the hand of a Japanese collector. Anyhow I doubt it is the only one since there are quite modern pictures of the bike in two total different color/versions.
Even if the Apollo project was over for Ducati it, gave birth to the Ducati Brand we know today. They halved the Apollo engine and started to make V-Twins. The engineer behind the Apollo was Taglioni, later the father most of the revolutionary technical solutions from Ducati up to recent days. His last project was a 998 V4 capable of up to 135 hp with carbs and he planned to fit fuel injection on it. And all this a few years before Honda presented their V4 range and BMW and Kawasaki introduced fuel injection on their bikes.
Taglioni was during his whole career a few steps ahead of the Japanese and always thought that, by copying the Japanese the European manufacturers will never survive. Unfortunally his voice was not always heard at the government owned Ducati head office. Anyhow Taglioni stayed at the company until retirement 1984, some rumours said that he left the company as late a 1989. His engineering heritage is continued by his formers faithful pupils and disciples, Gianluigi Mengoli and Massimo Bordi. From the trestle frame to the desmodromic systems, from the two-cylinder engine to the bevel gear pair and chain timing system and belt drive – Ducati’s technological heritage is firmly based on the work of Fabio Taglioni.
So the failed APOLLO project did give birth to two legendary Italian brands, Ducati and Moto Guzzi. I also think that an updated version of the Apollo could compete, maybe not with the Honda 1200V4 but as a “V-Max” version maybe…
If you want more information about the Apolloproject and the History of Ducati and Taglioni pls go to