Ducati was founded in Bologna, Italy in 1926 by Antonio Cavalieri Ducati and his three sons, Adriano, Marcello, and Bruno Cavalieri Ducati. The company, like any other, saw many ups and downs. Currently, Ducati is owned by Lamborghini through its German parent company, Audi; therefore, falling into the Volkswagen Group. Ducati is known for its legendary success on race tracks and they manufacture top-of-the-line motorcycles. The Ducati Museum in the city of Bologna showcases the full history of the company, from its humble origination as a radio and electronics producer to the motorcycle powerhouse it became over the course of the 20th century.
The early 1900s Bologna had a great zeal in the electronics sector. Guglielmo Marconi was universally known for discovering wireless radio transmission. Taking inspiration from him, Adriano Cavalieri Ducati, a brilliant physics student, patented a short-wave radio transmitter which allowed him to connect from Italy to the United States. Driven by enthusiasm, Adriano, together with his brothers Bruno and Marcello, founded the Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati on 4th of July, 1926. The company produced small Manens capacitor, which was assembled in a residence with two workers and a secretary. Over a period of 10 years, the company received remarkable success. Ducati opened a large facility which housed thousands of employees. But that success was short lived as the Second World War broke out. The Ducati plant became the target of Allied bombardment, which reduced the Ducati facility to rubble. The only way now was the way up; Ducati converted themselves into a motorcycle manufacturer and thus, began the new Ducati era.
After the war, Italy as a country was reborn. The economic boom benefited all sectors, the production expanded and technological development were underway. This increased employment and incomes, which changed the lifestyles and habits of Italians, and the need for mobility was one of the first that needed to be met by the growing prosperity. By the end of 1945, the company was partially rebuilt and in March 1946, they started to manufacture the Cucciolo, the first ever motorcycle to be produced in Borgo, Panigale. Unfortunately, due to the damage caused by the war the brothers could not make their business profitable and in 1948 Ducati was taking over by the state.
The Ducati Cucciolo became a social phenomenon, bringing together a country which needed to move. The Cucciolo was a 48cc bike, which weighed just about 44kg with a top speed of 64kmph. Light motorcycles and scooters were used to carry Italians to places, but the success of motorcycle street races inspired a desire for speed, and it became more than just a cheap, reliable means of transportation.
Ducati began racing bikes by 1951 with the Cucciolo and hired a young engineer named Fabio Taglioni, who began designing bikes specifically for racing. Eventually, Taglioni developed the Gran Sport 100, also known as the Marianna, which became popular. The Ducati plant underwent expansion in the 1970s and included a racing track around the parking lot for its employees to test Ducati’s racing bikes.
As the age of globalization began, it gave rise to a post-consumer society where goods not only satisfied needs, but also contributed to building the identity of the people who bought them. Pop culture, emotional and symbolic aspects played a crucial part in making the motorcycle a premium object, full of passion, to be enjoyed during free time, not to mention a means of identity, a status symbol. As a result, sophisticated technology, style and design became important – the cornerstones of Made in Italy. Art met motorcycling, creating immortal icons like the Monster and Ducati 916.
After several decades of Ducati motorcycles winning races, including world championships, the Ducati Corse racing team division of the company was founded in 1999. Over one hundred employees work for this division, based in Borgo Panigale, Bologna. Ducati has won several times at the Superbike World Championship, more than any other motorcycle manufacturer involved. Their motto: “Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday”.