The Ducati 500GTL is a motorcycle that Ducati would clearly rather forget, a bike from the era before they realized that heritage sells, and any attempt to introduce something really new could backfire and cause the ruin of a company as small as the Bolognese firm. Especially when the bikes were powered by motors that liked to eat themselves alive.
If you’re not aware, Ducati’s famous v-twin is difficult to package: the horizontal cylinder looks great and sticks out into the cooling breeze, but makes for a very long, slow-steering motorbike. And as suspension caught up with engine design and quick turning became an actual thing for motorcycles, Ducati had a bit of a problem on their hands.
In addition, the good looks of the bevel drive twin came at a price. Literally: it was very expensive to manufacture and service, and Ducati was looking for a way to solve both of these problems in one fell swoop in a new entry-level model.
Enter: the 500GTL.
The new parallel twin, while no powerhouse, was sweet and handled well. But with angular styling that aped the unpopular 860GT, you can see where this is heading: Ducati purists didn’t like the new looks and unfortunately, a reputation for crankshaft failures put the final nail into the coffin. Luckily, Signore Taglioni had been developing a belt-driven v-twin all along, and the new Pantah 500 was there to propel Ducati into the modern era.
From the original eBay listing: 1977 Ducati 500GTL Café Racer for Sale
THIS BEAUTIFUL AND RARE 35 YEAR OLD CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE IS THE FINE EXAMPLE OF A FINE ITALIAN BIKE, ITS BEEN CONVERTED TO A CAFE RACER. THE BIKE SOUND BEAUTIFUL FAST AND STRONG, OIL SERVICE, BRAKE FLUID, SPARK PLUGS, WIRES, PLUG POINTS AND CONDENSER HAVE BEEN REPLACED. THE CARBURETORS WHERE REBUILT. THE GAS TANK IS RUST FREE, BRAKES ARE ALMOST NEW. THE SEAT ITS BEEN UPHOLSTER WITH GERMAN LEATHER, CONTI MUFFLERS, ALL THE ORIGINAL PARTS LIKE MUFFLERS, SEAT (4) TURN SIGNALS TAILLIGHT ASSEMBLY, FRONT AND REAR, STAINLESS FENDERS, HANDLE BAR (2). EVERYTHING GOES WITH THE BIKE THEIR IS NO MODIFICATION DONE TO IT, SO IF ONE DAY YOU FEEL ON PUTING IT BACK TO ORIGINAL STYLE ITS NO PROBLEM,
I’d say that, considering the redheaded stepchild status of the 500, a $7,500 asking price might be a little rich, especially with such a… distinctive color choice. While I do love a truly individual motorcycle, sometimes it’s worth considering your personalized machine’s eventual sale. The overall presentation is clean, but I think that color choice might make this one a hard sell.
The paint seems nice, mind you, it’s just that I can’t look at it and not think I should stick it in a tall glass with some ice for a refreshing, summer treat…