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HOME/Sustainable, Green, Renewable Motoring

21 November 2012 by Harné Heuvelman



It seems nowadays that everybody is involved in getting the world to be more ‘sustainable’, ‘green’ and ‘polar bear friendly’. But how much of that effort (or the marketing story of that effort) is actually helping mankind? Without entering a long discussion about that, we would like to discuss Back to Classics’ part in making the world a better place. And we think we’re on the right path as we’d like to demonstrate with the story of this 1977 Ducati 900 GTS.

Back in 1977, Wilfried Pauwels bought his brand new Ducati 900 GTS from a local dealership in Belgium. Many kilometres he drove with his beloved two-wheeler alone or with his wife on the passenger seat. He drove on Sunday afternoons and to France and Germany on holidays. All without major problems and concerns. He drove 44,000 kilometres on his GTS, of course filling it with petrol, giving it an oil change and fixing the occasional new tyre. After many years his interest in the bike diminished and he parked it in his garage. There is sat for years and years gathering rust and dust. Up to the moment when Wilfried thought to have the bike restored.

That’s when we received a phone call about restoring the Ducati 900 GTS. We discussed the possibilities and immediately thought of preserving as much of the bike’s story as possible. A ‘patina’ restoration was in place where we would refurbish rather than replace parts. We drove to Belgium to pick up the bike and started with disassembly. It was taken apart up to the last bolt and carefully examined. We were surprised by the quality of the individual parts. The crankshaft was taken apart, cleaned and put back together. The pistons could be placed back with new rings and new cylinder linings and after replacing valves, the 5th gear, gaskets, bearings and seals the engine could be assembled again after sand-blasting the crankcases, cylinders and heads.

The frame was the only part that needed a new paint job. All of the body work was polished keeping the original paint. After new chrome on the exhausts and rims and polishing the engine covers the assembly of the bike could start again. And what a lovely job that was! Restoring a bike original as this is very rewarding. It is like giving the bike a possibility for a second life on the road.

Back to the question of the first part of this article; how sustainable is that? Wilfried could have bought a new bike after three years as many of his fellow motorists would have done. The old Ducati would have been traded in by the dealership and perhaps sold to a youngster who would make a ‘racer’ out of it. And after it had fallen over (with or without the owner in the saddle) it would eventually be parked at the junkyard. Many new bikes and parts would have been made to meet demand and many polar bears would have died as a result.

So we like to pat Wilfried and ourselves on the shoulder for doing what we do. It is ‘sustainable’ in the sense that bikes get a new life after 35 years and 44,000km. This process can continue indefinitely. It is ‘green’ in the sense that no new bikes need to be produced, no new iron ore and bauxite needs to be mined. And it is ‘renewable’ in the sense that parts get re-used rather than replaced.

In all we’re very happy being just as modern as Shell, Unilever and Toyota even though we’re called ‘Back to Classics’. Thank you Wilfried for letting us restore your lovely Ducati 900 GTS!

Tags: 860 GT / GTE / GTS, Mechanical Restoration, Patina Restoration

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