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Missing Link: A Ducati Pantah built for a car designer

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
If there’s something missing from Ducati’s current lineup, it’s a modern cafe racer with strong ties to the past. Sure, there’s the oddly named Scrambler Cafe Racer—but that submodel doesn’t evoke as much nostalgia as a SportClassic or MH900e. What Ducati really needs is something in the same vein as this magnificent Ducati 600SL Pantah.

Built by Ruamachines and based on a 1982 Ducati 600SL Pantah, it’s an effortlessly cool cafe racer with a better-than-factory vibe. Highlights include Italian colors, upgraded suspension, and a minimalist design that puts the unique frame and Desmodromic L-twin motor on full display.

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
Ruamachines founders Armando Fontes and Victor Rocha are based in Esmoriz, just south of Porto on the Portuguese coast.

They have very sharp eyes, but this project had to be even more clean and tasteful than usual: their client was an interior designer at a major Scandinavian carmaker. “It had to be a simple and pure cafe racer,” explains Armando, “always bearing in mind that less is more.”

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
Ruamachines pulled it off by stripping the classic 600SL Pantah down to the bare essentials, before borrowing upgraded parts from a couple of other Ducatis to build it back up.

There’s a set of upside down forks from a 1996-model 900SS up front, and the swingarm off a 1985 750 F1, with an upgraded shock, out back.

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
Getting the swingarm to fit didn’t require major surgery, since the spacing was the same on both bikes. All that was needed was a new upper shock mount below the fuel tank—so the guys fabricated that, then built a new subframe to finish the back end off.

The wheels are stock, but are now wrapped in modern Avon Roadriders. The front brakes are from the 900SS, adapted to the Pantah wheel by way of custom-made spacers and new rotor mounts. But the rear brake’s from the 750 F1, and bolted straight on without any fuss.

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
Despite its age, and the fact that it was raced extensively, the Pantah’s engine was still in good nick. But Ruamachines treated to a light refresh anyway. The air box was also traded for a pair of K&N filters, and a new stainless steel exhaust system was fabricated in-house.

To keep the overall layout super-sano, Armando and Victor have hidden the battery and rewired everything around a Motogadget m.unit controller. They also used a Motogadget Motoscope Classic speedo, push buttons, and small LED turn signals at both ends.

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
Every last detail is neatly integrated: the front turn signals sit on the bolts that mount the front headlight to its hand-made bracket, and the rear signals flank the license plate bracket. Ruamachines also installed a short front fender, a clean top yoke, new clip-ons, and bar-end mirrors (not pictured here).

But the real winner here is that livery—and the bodywork that it’s adorning. The Pantah’s fuel tank is one of Ducati’s quirkier designs, but also one of its best looking and most recognizable.

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
So the tank sits completely unmolested, complemented by a perfectly proportioned aluminum tail hump that echoes its lines.

In between them is a leather and Alcantara combination seat, with a design that masks the frame rails to keep things sleek. Finishing touches include period-correct Ducati logos, which, together with the gold wheels, are a clear nod to the original bike.

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer
Ruamachines have successfully delved into the 600SL Pantah’s heritage, and emerged with a contemporary cafe racer devoid of anything superfluous. If we were sitting in a design office in Bologna right now, we’d be taking notes.

Ruamachines | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Victor Hugo

A Ducati 600SL Pantah customized for a car designer

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