The Ducati Pantah form a range of motorcycles produced by the Borgo Panigale company from 1979 to 1984. In the second half of the seventies, Ducati was worried about the commercial failure of the 350/500 twin-cylinder bikes (known by the nickname "Demon", due to their mechanical problems), which had left the range of the Bolognese manufacturer "discovered" in the field of medium displacement motorcycles. It was therefore necessary to immediately present a replacement model. In charge of designing a new bike, Ducati's technical department set to work at the beginning of 1976 to create what would become one of the most important engines in its history.
The scheme chosen was that of the 90° longitudinal V-twin engine (commonly known as the "L" engine) designed by Taglioni at the end of the 1960s (its debut on the 1971 500 GP), but the distribution system and gearbox were completely redesigned. This time, however, Taglioni dictated only the basic lines and decided to have the design developed by the "new recruits" Gianluigi Mengoli and Renzo Neri. At the end of 1977, the first prototype was ready for testing, but the results proved unsatisfactory in terms of reliability. So unsatisfactory that the technical staff unanimously decided to completely redesign the crankcase, reverse the rotation of the engine and use toothed belts (instead of, as originally planned, a chain) to control the desmodromic distribution. However, considering that the chassis part was now ready, the prototype was sent to the Milan Motor Show in 1977. In the meantime, the work of the designers continued to come to a conclusion in the second half of 1978 with the second prototype running, which provided the considerable power of 48 hp at the bench. It took another year of fine-tuning to achieve homologation in October 1979. After the bike was put up for sale, it was well received, both for its convincing performance and for its aesthetic appearance, designed by Marco Cuppini, which was particularly suitable for the new 500 sports mezzolitre, as was the choice of the name "Pantah", a contraction of "panther".
The "Pantah" was produced from 1979 to 1984 in the 500, 350, 600 and 650 displacements, in over 8,000 units. However, the importance of this engine goes beyond production numbers, having become the functional model from which all the Ducati engines of the future were inspired. The engine design derived from that of the "Pantah" was subsequently used for a large number of sports motorcycles, enduro, speedway, produced under the Ducati, Bimota and other brands, and is still in production after many years, thanks to the continuous changes and technical updates that have kept it up to date with the anti-pollution standards. In the count we could perhaps also add the 1,536 examples of the Cagiva Alazzurra, identical in terms of frame and engine but with a more modern look and a less sporty characterization. The production of the "500 L Pantah" was decided in December 1982, but Ducati was "forced", by the stubborn insistence of a customer particularly enthusiastic about the model, to make one last example in January 1983, using materials intended for the spare parts warehouse and with the assembly lines now dismantled.
- Exterior Colour Red