The 1964 Ducati Berliner 1260 Apollo was a prototype 1,250 cc (76 cu in) V4 engine motorcycle producing 100 bhp (75 kW) and capable of over 120 mph (190 km/h). It was never put into production, but did influence other production Ducatis that followed. Both Ducati and their US distributor, Berliner Motor Corporation, were experiencing declining sales of existing small capacity single cylinder models, and sought to create a bike to compete with Harley-Davidson. Berliner Motor was keen to have a model that could win lucrative police motorcycle supply contracts, and that could also sell as a civilian touring bike.
Initially it was putting out 100 bhp @ 7000 rpm, and could exceed 120 mph (190 km/h). The Harley of the time made 55 bhp. The first test rider Franco Farne came back from his first ride, and said it “handles like a truck.” Farne normally rode small racers. It soon became evident that even specially made tyres were not up to the power of the engine. A tyre disintegrated at speed on the Autostrada, and the test rider rated his survival “a miracle”. The engine was detuned to give 80 bhp. Tyres continued to disintegrate. The engine was brought down to 65 bhp, and the survival rate of the tyres became acceptable. This was late 1963. (In 1958 Moto Guzzi had used a 20 inch rear tyre on the Grand Prix 500 cc V8, and they had worn rapidly with 78 bhp.)
In March 1964 a gold painted prototype was handed over in a formal ceremony.
The reduction in power meant that the Apollo could now be outperformed by the British and BMW twins, which restricted the anticipated market to police forces. Berliner was printing advertising, demonstrating the prototype to Police Chiefs, and genuinely preparing to market the Apollo.
Berliner specification sheet
This is from a promotional flyer distributed by Berliner Motor Corporation, which also included a front three quarter black and white view of the gold bike. The US$1,500 selling price would be US$10229 in 2008.wikipedia.