1974 OSSA 250 PHANTOM: THE BEST OSSA
1974 OSSA 250
WHAT THEY COST
Well priced for a European offering
at $1375, the Phantom is now a popular
choice for vintage racers. The Early Years
of Motocross Museum values this nicely
restored example by Speed and Sport at
Ossa also made a 175cc Phantom that
was considered a good machine. The 125cc
Phantom was underpowered compared to the
competition—read Elsinore CR125M.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
For an AHRMA racer or collector, stay
away from any Phantom that has major
frame mods. Remember, 1974 was when
everybody started hacking up their frames
to try to increase rear-wheel travel. Also,
late-production 1974 Phantoms went to
chromoly swingarms, but you want the
Contact Ossa Planet’s Keith Lynas at
(619) 670-8966 or on the web at
The writing was on the wall by the early 1970s: motocross was the future for dirt bike manufacturers. Even the top Ossa rider, Dick Mann, had started taking a motocross
bike along with him while he campaigned the AMA Grand
National dirt track circuit.
It didn’t take long for U.S. Ossa importer John Taylor to realize
that the stakes in motocross were rapidly rising. The arrival of
the 1973 Honda Elsinore CR250 was the trump card that every
European manufacturer had been dreading. To survive, Ossa
needed to re-stack the deck quickly.
By mid-1973, Ossa was developing a radical bike with the
powerful and durable Stiletto motor wrapped in an ultra-light,
state-of-the-art chassis. Dubbed the Phantom, it was the first
sub-200-pound production 250 motocrosser. It was 15 pounds
lighter than the Elsinore.
The Phantom was one sweet package. Its cyan blue and orange
bodywork adorned a chromoly frame that featured an all-aluminum
swingarm. Nothing but the best components were used, including
Betor forks and shocks, Akront shoulder-less rims and Pirelli tires.
The svelte 33-horsepower engine only weighed 60 pounds and
utilized a Bing carburetor and Motoplat CDI ignition. An underslung, snakelike, thin-wall exhaust system added to the impression
that this was a very serious race machine.
In the declining years of Generalissimo Franco’s reign, Spain’s
economy couldn’t remain closed to the outside world anymore. The
arrival of less expensive Japanese motorcycles, as well as crippling
employee strikes in 1977, spurred the downfall of Ossa. In 1979 the
company merged with Bultaco, but this didn’t help. They closed
their doors in 1982, only to open them again in 1985. They have
limped along since and recently merged with Gas Gas in 2014.
BY TOM WHITE