Good Ghost: Kingston Customs’ extraordinary BMW R100

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Dirk Oehlerking has a portfolio of incredible builds, but there are two machines that stand out. They are the White Phantom and Black Phantom—two classic BMW boxers, with exquisite hand-formed bodywork and an unusual art deco vibe.

Dirk refers to his Phantoms as “two that belong together, like Yin and Yang.” But those two have now become three, as another Phantom rolls out of the Kingston Custom workshop in Gelsenkirchen. The ‘Good Ghost’ is a remarkable build that takes cues from its siblings, but elevates the style to dizzying new heights.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Dirk never really planned to build a third Phantom. He originally set out to build just one, but the request came from a source impossible to ignore: the renowned custom motorcycle patron and collector, Bobby Haas.

“In 2019, the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Dallas took place at the Haas Moto Museum,” Dirk tells us. “The White Phantom and Black Phantom were the main attraction in the museum that weekend. That honored and touched me very much.”

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
“Bobby Haas and museum director Stacey Mayfield asked me if it was possible to build a third Phantom, so that a trilogy, a family, would be created.”

The museum’s brief was that the bike should be named ‘Ghost,’ it should be grey, and it should match the style of the existing two bikes. On a philosophical level, the new bike would act as guardian of the other two, and so it would need to be more physically imposing and faster.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Dirk had used the BMW R80 as a base for the first two Phantoms, but this time he sourced a 1980 BMW R100 RS. And just like before, he set out to keep the chassis mostly stock, with one notable exception.

Here, he’s swapped out the shaft drive swing arm for a single-shock BMW ‘Monolever’ unit, equipped with a YSS shock.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Good Ghost’s bodywork is an evolution of Kingston’s Phantom design. The first bike, White Phantom, featured bodywork that left both wheels exposed; Black Phantom covered up the back end, but left the front end open.

This time, Dirk’s enclosed the R100 in an elegant full-length fairing.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
He started by designing a framework with wire and tape, which was then covered in cardboard and paste, to create a mockup of the final design. Once that was done, Dirk hand-shaped the entire structure out of 2 mm thick aluminum. Remarkably, the whole thing weighs just 21 kg.

The Phantom design deliberately places the rider on top of the motorcycle, rather than ‘in’ it—which leaves little room for a traditional fuel tank. So Dirk fabricated a small fuel cell to sit behind the transmission, with an external fuel pump to send the gas where it needs to go.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Repacking everything called for some trick engineering. Dirk moved the carbs to inside the fairing, added K&N filters, and built custom intake manifolds. The exhaust is a stainless steel affair, which delicately traces the bodywork right up to its tapered tail section.

Up top is a custom leather saddle, with upholstery extending all the way to the front. The design includes a custom ‘dash,’ with a row of Kingston-branded gauges from MMB neatly integrated with the leather.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
The entire structure flips up to reveal a leather-lined cubbyhole designed to hold a bottle of wine and a glass. And there’s a corkscrew, spare spark plug and plug cap integrated into the lift mechanism.

This is all part of Dirk’s concept for the Phantom series; “This gentleman racer was supposed to embody a time when design, technology and speed played a significant role.”

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
To this end, the rear section features two hinged panels, secured by leather clasps. The left flips out to reveal a tool kit, while the right houses a selection of century-old silverware.

There’s another classic touch up front: a set of kidney grills, directly inspired by the 1936 BMW 328 Roadster. Just above, a recessed headlight shines out from behind a round glass pane. Fehling clip-ons with leather grips and classic levers finish off the cockpit.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Dirk’s done especially well to integrate the BMW’s vital bits and pieces with the bodywork. The ignition key’s been embedded on the left, and the choke is neatly mounted on the right side. Lower down, Dirk adapted the footboards from a BMW R12, and made his own brake and shift controls.

BMW art deco motorcycle by Kingston Custom
Like its siblings, Good Ghost is a true gentleman’s racer that not only looks spectacular, but is reportedly a joy to ride too (despite its limited turning circle). “When you ride it, it feels like you are in a different time,” says Dirk.

The third Phantom is now ready to take up its place in the esteemed Haas collection. But Dirk has one more dream for it: to drive it at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Now wouldn’t that be something?

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Dirk Oehlerking on his BMW art deco motorcycle 'Good Ghost'