By Tom White
The White Motorcycle company didn’t stay in business very long, nor did they sell very many motorcycles back in the ’60s. Based on Broadway Street in Santa Ana, California, White Motorcycles private-labeled the Hungarian-built Pannonia 250 and brought it to the U.S. market as the White Tornado.
The Tornado has a stamped-steel hanger frame. A spin-on aluminum air filter canister attaches to the right side of the stamped frame, and the hollow frame is used as the airbox. The chrome and black gas tank is held on by a leather strap. The swingarm is pressed steel, but is actually comprised of separate pieces bolted together. Most intriguingly, the handlebars have braces that bolt directly to the top of the fork legs. This setup makes it impossible to adjust the bars in any direction. Sticking with this theme, the cast steel footpegs bolt to the frame, but do not fold. They can be adjusted fore and aft on a sliding bar.
Hungary was not famous for its motorcycles, but the Csepel Steel Works produced a series of motorcycles under Communist control from 1951 to 1975. These brands included Danuvia, Tunde, Panni, Pannonia and White. The White was the only brand to break out of the Iron Curtain. The 247cc White Tornado had a 68mm-by-68mm bore-and-stroke engine that produced 28 horsepower at 6700 rpm via a five-speed transmission. The ignition was a Bosch six-volt magneto, tires were by Pirelli, the hubs were from an unknown Austrian manufacturer, the carb was a 32mm Puch, and the rear fender was hand-formed from aluminum.
The 1966 White Tornado 250 was available in both dirt track and motocross versions—and hit the scales at 246 pounds (dry). In 1966, the White Tornado retailed for $695.
1966 WHITE TORNADO 250 FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
The White Scramblers were a complete sales failure, so only a limited number of these machines were imported into the U.S. The original suggested retail price was $695, and Early Years Of Motocross Museum owner Tom White paid $3500 for this machine, plus almost $6000 for Vintage Iron to restore it. Is it worth $10,000? If your last name is White and you have a motocross museum, it is!
They had both 125cc and 250cc models for scrambles (universal tires) or motocross (knobby tires). The Shooting Star was the street model and was also
available in 125cc and 250cc.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look for the original nonadjustable handlebars with control cables made out of hexagon material. The aluminum fenders were hand formed works of art, and undamaged fenders are a huge bonus. You’ve hit the jackpot if the production flattened expansion chamber is in decent shape.
There is a very limited source of parts for the White Tornado through AMS in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 610-4574 and Bultaco West at (760) 815-3970. Surgeon General’s Warning: Do not buy a White Tornado or Super Sport for vintage racing.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com
KTM Motorcycle tests