This morning I’ve found myself doing my regular scrolls of car selling websites when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. At first glance, it seemed that people were bidding up a wooden crate on Bring a Trailer for $35,000. Then it hit me, this isn’t just a crate. Beyond those wooden walls is an unassembled 2002 Ducati MH900e, one of the hottest Ducatis ever put on the road.
Ducati is known for creating functional art pieces and picking just one is at best a tortuous exercise. Some Ducati fans point at the 916 as the maker’s most beautiful. Others might toss the Panigale V4 out there. But if you want your heart to melt, one Ducati stands above them all: the MH900e.
Here, let me get your heart skipping like someone madly in love:
Now that I have your attention, you’re probably wondering why this early aughts machine looks like it jumped through time from the 1970s.
The MH900e started life as a sketch that was presented at the Internet Motorcycle Fair (INTERMOT) Show in 1998. As reported by Silodrome, Designer Pierre Terblanche took inspiration from the 900SS ridden to victory in the 1978 Isle of Man TT. That race bike was ridden to an unexpected win by none other than Mike Hailwood, a famed racer who had retired from mainstream racing for 11 years at the time. The MH900e pays homage to Hailwood’s 900SS and does so in impeccable style.
Ducati decided to gauge interest in the motorcycle by posting a questionnaire on its website. Remember, this was the late 1990s, when internet users listened to the wonderful sounds of dial-up modems and heard “you’ve got mail!” once they got online. A questionnaire back then was something different.
The public loved the MH900e and wanted their own, so Ducati decided to put the motorcycle into production, limiting it to just 2,000 units. In another departure from the norm, the MH900e was also sold online through Ducati’s website. Orders went live on January 1, 2000 at a minute after midnight. Despite the era being in the internet’s infancy the bike sold out in just 31 minutes.
One of them was packaged up in a crate and shipped off to Rockville Harley-Davidson in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
If you’re wondering how a new Ducati ends up at a Harley dealership you aren’t alone. The dealership is a part of Battley Cycles, which includes BMW and Ducati.
The motorcycle has remained in its crate and unsold ever since. Peeking at the pictures in the Bring a Trailer listingthis MH900e is even still covered up in the plastic that it was wrapped in at the factory.
Buried somewhere in that crate is an air-cooled 904cc Ducati 90-degreee L-twin. This engine is good for 74 hp and 56 lb-ft torque. That’s bolted to a trellis frame that uses the engine as a stressed member. The listing says that this motorcycle hasn’t been prepared for delivery in any way. In fact, the mileage on the odometer isn’t even known since nobody has bothered to power it up.
Should the buyer ever choose to crack open the crate and build the motorcycle, they’ll first find what appears to be some minor rubbing damage on the paint.
That would be nothing in comparison to dealing with waking up a 20-year dormant engine. You’ll be dealing with all kinds of old rubber from the belts to all kinds of seals and hoses. And hopefully the engine itself isn’t stuck.
The MH900 Evoluzione cost about $18,000 when it was new, or $30,829 in today’s money. A 1,400-mile MH900e sold by the seller this month went for $41,000 while one with just 2 miles sold for $43,224† The price to get one still new in its crate? It’s currently $35,000 with six days to go on Bring a Trailer.