Most collectible Ducati 916 SP

The most collectible Ducati 916 SP is the 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase. Many believe it’s the Ducati 916 SPS Carl Fogarty Replica, but this is simply not the case at all, although the Foggys are very expensive indeed now. There is also the extremely rare USA only model of the Ducati 955, but the 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase really is the one to have. These first year of production machines had no plaque with a number on the fork yoke, and neither did the 1995 machine which was identical. However, only the 1994 motorcycles were built in the Verase factory, the 1995 machines were built in Bologna. There are quite a few unique details to the 1994 model, due to being built at the Verase factory. Every 1994 model of the Ducati 916 was a mono posto, as the Biposto didn’t come out until 1995. Many of the 1994 Stradas have been messed about with to parade as 916 SPs and the factory records are very difficult to access to authenticate these machines.

1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase RHS Ian Falloon
Ian Falloon photographs our Verase Ducati 916 SP from 1994 and is suitably impressed.

Ducati 916 SP authentication

Ducati 916 SP authentication is very tricky as even the factory staff do not have access to the production records. You can hear Ian Falloon discuss this in this video about the 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase on our Youtube channel. The only access staff in Italy have is the same access as dealers have, which is invoices to official Ducati dealers only which show the VIN number and engine number in question. Unfortunately, during the 1990s there was an a massive amount of parallel (grey) marketing going on at Ducati, as it helped with their cashflow problems and assisted with paying suppliers. Ducati had very well documented problems paying suppliers until they were bought in full by Texas Pacific in 1998. Ian Falloon recalls a visit to the factory when he saw 1,000 Ducati 916s all without wheels on axle stands because they owed Brembo for their wheels and were put on stop. Consequently many 916 SPs, which were headed for official dealers, went to the highest bidder in the parallel market. More were sold this way than went through the official dealer network and there are no easily accessible records for these motorcycles.  Ducati may say that the frame is a Strada and they have no record of the motor, even though the motor is within 200 of the VIN. Ian Falloon and I are now creating our own registry of chassis and engine numbers to overcome this. Ducati do have the production records for the 916 SP, but they are in deep storage and you need to know the right people at Ducati to confirm this and it takes several months.

1994 Ducati 916 SP for sale

Historical significance

The historical significance of these first year of production Ducati 916 SP Verase machines cannot be under estimated. The design was iconic and I remember the first time I saw a 916 Strada in the rain overtaking us on the inside from a slip road on the M1 near Nottingham, sending great arcs of spray from the rear wheel into the air ahead of us. I heard it first and then saw the red bodywork, the single sided swing arm and the undersea exhausts. The breath left my body really fast, my jaw fell open and my eyes feasted on the unique styling that changed the world. Three weeks later I had five of them ready for sale and they flew out faster than any motorcycle I had ever sold before. This was late in 1993, every bike was a Strada, but we were all waiting on the 916 SP and they were almost impossible to source. We could get Stradas from the factory, but the 916 SP was almost impossible to source, although we managed to win the bid for a few over the first year of production. Be careful you’re not buying a 1995 model instead of a 1994 Verase machine, ass the bikes appear identical. However the Verase is worth about 15% more than the 1995 model. This 1995 model sold at auction in 2022 for £42,750, so that will give you an idea of what the 1994 Verase values are. What has really added value to these machines is that they are the first year of production, the rarest of them all even though they actually produced 310 in 1994, and the first year is always the most desirable. Further value is added because in the first year of asking in World Superbike, Carl Fogarty went and won the series on the 916.  What also increases their value is that the 1994 Verase model is the rarest surviving Ducati 916 SP in the entire SP series.

1994 Ducati 916 SP1 RHS1
This 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase has been static for the last four years.

Rarest Ducati 916 SP of all

The rarest Ducati 916 SP of all is the 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase, because so many of the 310 machines produced went to racers. The machine was so good on the track that all over the world race teams and privateers alike wanted these bikes because they knew they could win on them. Although Ducati made a racing version of the 916 SP, anyone who wanted one of these had to be very well connected with the factory and demand went well beyond those lucky enough to buy a racer. The next best thing was to buy a 916 SP and go to town on it, but these bikes have all been lost and are unrecoverable as road bikes now. Quite a few of the road machines were written off as road riders found out that they were not as good at riding these as Carl Fogarty and learned the difference between a public road and a race track the hard way. The production of just 310 units, less than the green frame, was sporadic, erratic and very few found their way to road use. Once these were about five years old, the 996 SPS and later the 999 came out, these first edition machines had very little value. I remember exporting a really nice example to Holland for £3,000 in 2008. I was looking for good examples of these machines between 2005 and 2010 and finding bikes that had not been used as track day tools and that had been kept outside was really challenging. Owners of the track bikes back then said they were still a great bike and were a dirt cheap track bike. For every one decent bike I exported I looked at about fifteen ex track bikes being sold as street bikes.

1994 Ducati 916SP for sale

Cult status

The cult status of the 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase is iconic grown even more today. Most people who wanted one for the road couldn’t get one and once the SP3 came out with the numbered plaque, no one wanted a second hand 916 SP without a numbered plaque from 1994 or 1995. The numbered plaque was novel for the 916 SP series and I never found out why they didn’t have them for those first two years as they always said they’d be numbered. Not being numbered makes them easier to fake and harder to identify. The front cylinder head without Ducati in raised letters, unlike the Strada and Biposto, is correct for the SP series. There is an insert in the steering head which is a concentric cam which changes the rake of the front forks. If the raised letters spelling out Ducati were left in place, then when on the steepest rake setting, the front wheel would foul the lettering on the front cylinder head. The little Cagiva elephant stampings on the motorcycle really do make it stand out and apply only to the 1994 Verase machines. These understated, iconic, championship winning, rarest of the rare works of art really do have cult status today, even though they had been overlooked in the past. Quite often the first year of production can add around fifty percent to the value of a classic motorcycle, sometimes more. For example, the Honda Sandcast and 1972 Kawasaki Z1 900 are about one hundred percent more than later models and these Verase bikes will eventually go the same way, so they offer great value now. 

Most collectible Ducati 916 SP
Looking great and ready for retail, but these machines now require a lot of work. This is how the machine looked when we first sourced it for our customer. With just a genuine 4000 miles from new, corrosion was still running riot underneath.

Investment grade Ducati 916 SP 

Finding an investment grade Ducati 916 SP from any year is seriously challenging, but finding an investment grade 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase is ridiculously tough. There are pretty of machines in showrooms claiming to be great investments, but buyer beware or you could be severely counting the cost when things go wrong. Before buying any Ducati 916 SP remove the bodywork, no matter how pretty they look under the lights. Most look great with the bodywork on, but once it’s removed you realise how corroded the machine is. Frames suffer badly from paint failure beneath the bodywork and motors suffer from poor paint adhesion. Check the date stamps on the bodywork panels, as if they’re incorrect second hand panels with the correct stamps are extremely expensive. Due to age, plastic panels are usually starting to break where they fix to the frame and each other solely due to age and vibration. With age the plastic goes hard and brittle and the vibration then makes the weakest points, the fixing points, break. These need special attention when being repaired and is not like getting your fuel tank dent repaired. These parts of the plastic require correct repair, re-enforcing and then the work needs dressing so it’s invisible. Most of these bodywork panels have been really poorly repainted by now, especially on the left hand side. The side stand design of the Ducati 916 had a seriously poor flaw, as when the weight is taken off the stand it retracts by itself. So many riders dropped their bikes believing their stand was down when it had retracted. The bike went over on the eft side, damaging the top fairing, left side of the fairing lower, quite often the seat and sometimes the tank as well. These were often replaced with after market items or parts from a different year which really lower the value of the bike. Service history means nothing, get the bike checked out by someone who will do the work well. Usually the rear Ohlins shock needs rebuilding due to age and is also often badly corroded. It is always far cheaper to buy a machine that’s had all of the work done to the highest standard than it is to find a decent example in a dealership, or from a collector, and then get to grips with the work.

Left engine case corrosion NO engine no
Under the bodywork corrosion is nearly always raging.
1994 Ducati 916 SP Corroded frame
Once all of the bodywork is stripped the corrosion and paint failure are clear. The thirty year old paint will only corrode and fail more as time passes. Always remove the bodywork before buying any of these motorcycles.
Bodywork lacquered in booth LHS top
The bodywork looked great on the bike but required a full strip to the bare substrate, repair at the fixing points and a full repaint.
Most collectible Ducati 916 SP
Once the preservation and restoration work is done, the bike is good for the next forty years if the machine is well maintained.


In conclusion, the 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase is the pinnacle of Ducati 916 SP investment but finding an investment grade example is beyond challenging. Looking really great does not an investment grade example make. These motorcycles are only getting harder to find and prices are only ever increasing. The cost of doing the work to bring these machines up to investment grade standard is also going to increase more year on year as parts become harder to find and overheads increase. Authentication is always worth running by Ian Falloon, as the factory do not have access to the production records, unless you have a few months to spare and know the right person there. Always investigate any machine thoroughly, remove the bodywork and if you don’t know enough about them, then pay someone who does. The 1994 Ducati 916 SP Verase is the ultimate Italian classic motorcycle to collect from this era, so if you can afford to get an investment grade example then just do it. Now is the time to get your hands on one, or you will always look back and say “I had the chance to buy one of those, but I didn’t”. If you end up leaving it, you’ll always regret it because they are becoming very expensive indeed and will become much more so with the passage of time.  

Paul Jayson

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