Impeccable 1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod Bike Looks Fantastic Dressed in Red

The seventies were a pretty wild time for Ducati in many regards, and it was toward the end of this decade that the Pantah broke cover. Developed under the watchful eye of Fabio Taglioni, this model is often remembered for two distinct reasons. On the one hand, its engine did away with the bevel gear system commonly implemented by Ducati up until then, replacing it with rubber timing belts.
1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod 7 photos
Photo: Brandan Trudinger
1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod
Moreover, there was the all-new trellis frame using the engine as a stressed member, and this innovation greatly contributed to keeping weight as low as possible. The Pantah 500 tipped the scales at just 397 pounds (180 kg) dry, while its 499cc L-twin could muster a very respectable 45 hp at 9,050 rpm. According to official data from Ducati, top speed was rated at 124 mph (200 kph).

All in all, it’s not hard to see why owning one such machine is a tantalizing prospect for collectors and regular Ducatistas alike. This is especially true when the specimen has either been kept in excellent condition or restored back to its former glory. Now, the 1981 Pantah 500 pictured above is more of a restomod rather than the product of a traditional restoration, but it looks absolutely delicious, nonetheless.

The motorcycle is owned by a guy named Bryan, and it looks as clean as ever thanks to Purpose Built Moto (PBM) of Gold Coast, Australia. Tom Gilroy and his crew didn’t have it easy on this project, though, because the classic Duc was in a sorry state when it first crossed their doorstep. Its twin-cylinder powerplant hadn’t been fired up in over a decade, during which the Pantah was stored rather precariously to say the least.

Despite its pitiful condition, the Aussies were more than happy to take the commission, but nothing could’ve prepared them for how much work was actually involved. For starters, they took the bike apart and stripped the chipping paint off its six-spoke wheels. The hoops were rebuilt with fresh bearings and seals, then painted in the same iconic gold hue they’d worn before.

1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod
Photo: Brandan Trudinger
Ultimately, their rims got cloaked in modern Speedmaster tires from Avon’s inventory. While PBM’s bright minds were busying themselves with the footwear side of things, the motorcycle’s Marzocchi suspension hardware made its way to Joe of Ride Dynamics for a complete overhaul. When these came back and the brakes had been refurbished, the lads moved on to the cosmetics.

They wanted to delete a good chunk of visual mass at the back, and Bryan agreed that the Pantah’s massive rear fender had to go. A compact license plate bracket was fitted in its stead, while the factory lighting components made way for much smaller LEDs. These were neatly integrated into the tail section, further enforcing the clutter-free appearance Purpose Built Moto was after.

Flush-mounted turn signals can be seen on the front fairing, as well, flanking a yellow-tinted headlight lens that looks absolutely terrific. In addition, Tom's bike-modding connoisseurs also added a low-profile windshield and it, too, is tinted yellow like the headlamp. Moving on to the cockpit, they refurbished both gauges to perfection and installed a pair of Accosato control levers, as well as new switches from PBM’s proprietary aftermarket catalog.

1981 Ducati Pantah Restomod
Photo: Brandan Trudinger
The electronics have been rewired through the firm’s Black Box control unit, and the stock ignition got deleted in favor of an Elektronik Sachse CDI complete with youthful coils. As you can imagine, the Pantah’s air-cooled L-twin motor was in dire need of some love after lying dormant for so long. Obviously, Sir Gilroy and his team gave it just that, with replacement pistons and connecting rods among other items.

A complete makeover was also experienced by the gearbox, which is now sending power to the rear wheel via a fresh drive chain. The engine’s covers have been polished by a local collaborator, its cylinder heads were ported in-house, and every bearing or gasket was replaced for good measure. Bryan’s Pantah came with an old Staintune exhaust system – not the original plumbing from Ducati, but a period-correct substitute worth keeping.

Purpose Built Moto repaired the corroded pipes and had them polished to a mirror finish, while the paint job was outsourced to Justin Holmes of Popbang Classics. The color scheme uses a red base topped with silver highlights, and some of you will point out that it’s a far cry from the motorcycle’s standard livery.

Indeed; this particular exemplar had been painted red by one of its previous owners during the eighties, which is what Justin’s colorway seeks to reflect. Last but not least, the creature’s factory saddle was damaged beyond repair, so PBM got the leather experts over at Timeless Auto Trim to upholster a custom alternative from scratch. With the new seat in place, Bryan’s vintage gemstone was ready to hit the streets and turn heads for many years to come.

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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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