Vintage Motorcycle, Bultaco.
The Legend of the Bultaco Buzzard
Desert riders that have been around a while may have once owned a Bultaco or one of their buddies rode one. There was this ongoing dialogue between those that rode one and those that did not. You would hear such things as, "thought you had broken down cause I swear I saw some Bultaco buzzards flying around out there". How this started I do not know but someone started saying anytime you saw a buzzard circling around out in the desert some poor bastard is broken down with their Bultaco. Some little kids actually thought there was a real Bultaco buzzard and if you broke down while riding one, a buzzard would circle above. For the Bultaco rider they were not amused by this joke and would have to think of a good comeback suck as "Maico brako". Today’s rider may have never heard of a Bultaco or heard the joke about the Bultaco buzzard. These Bultaco like others dirt bikes from my childhood have been long gone but there are those out there that like to collect vintage bikes and I know there are those out there that may have a Bultaco in their garage. With the demise of the Bultaco motorcycle the legend of the Bultaco Buzzard slips out of our memories and remains something of the past.
The origin of the Bultaco motorcycle company dates back to May 1958. Francisco "Paco" Bulto was a director of the Montesa motorcycle company founded in 1944. In 1957 the company moved to a larger facility and because of the move production was disrupted. At this time the Spanish economy had taken a downturn and Bulto would clash with senior director Permanyer on the direction Montesa would take. Bulto wanted to keep the racing program and Permanyer did not. Bulto decided to leave Montesa to concentrate on his other business interests. It was not a surprise when the majority of Montesa's racing department left shortly afterwards as well. From this move away from Montesa, Bultaco came into being.
A few days later after his split from Montesa, Bulto was invited to a meeting by several of the former staff of Montesa's racing department. The racing guys wanted to return to racing, so they persuaded Bulto that their greatest hope lay in forming a new company. They would set up shop in an old farm owned by Bulto, things developed quickly. On March 24, 1959 Bultaco held a press day and launched its first bike, the road-going 125cc Bultaco Trala 101, named after the Spanish word for whiplash. In just two short months later Bultaco entered its first Spanish Grand Prix taking seven of the first ten places. The Bultaco Trala 101 could reach a healthy 70 mph, had decent brakes, and good suspension which appealed to the rider. The first year Bultaco sold 1136 of these bikes and was the start of a new motorcycle dynasty.
Over the next few years Bultaco say success and had added other models to their lineup. In 1965 Bultaco released the Sherpa T a trials bike that led Sammy Miller to win the Scottish trials, the first ever win by a foreign marquee, and the first by a two-stroke. Also in 1965 they released the Pursang series which left its mark in the US. For those of us that were riding in the 60’s here in the US, this is the bike many of us remember along with the Matador.
As it is in life, some good things must come to an end. Due to market unrest Bultaco production closed in 1979. The factory reopened in 1980, but closed again in 1983 and that marked the end of Bultaco Motorcycles. The name Bultaco was used in reference to trials motorcycles that were built in the late 90’s. The Bultaco name was officially dropped in 2001.
As with all good stories there are always legends that get started and this story has one of its own. It was said that Paco Bulto wanted to be buried wearing a Bultaco t-shirt and to make sure his mustache was properly waxed. Now there’s a true Spanish gentleman for you!
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