BY TOM WHITE
In the 1960s, Bultaco had been a successful brand in American scrambles and local motocross, but its stock rose when American upstart Jim Pomeroy shocked the motocross establishment by winning the 1973 Spanish 250 GP. News of the victory created a wave of excitement in America where motocross was undergoing an explosive growth cycle.
Bultaco was founded in 1958 by Francisco Xavier Bulto, who along with Pedro Permanyer was one of the founders of Montesa in post-WWII Spain. Bulto broke away from Montesa to start his own brand in 1958. His first Bultaco model was the Tralla 101 (Tralla translates to “whiplash” in Spanish). Early models were plagued with excessive weight and a powerband that few riders could tame.
By 1974, the 360cc Pursang was nearly identical in design to the production 250 that Yakima, Washington’s Jim Pomeroy had ridden to win the Spanish Grand Prix. Claimed horsepower was 39 at 7000 rpm, which in print looked awesome, but in reality the horsepower in the brochure was never matched by horsepower on the track. Power wasn’t outstanding, but thanks to the low seat height and slack head angle, the Pursang was a sliding fool. Bultaco riders would just pitch the bike into a corner and dial on the power. No need to take the inside line, because the inside line was almost an impossibility on a Bultaco.
The 1974 360 Pursang was an absolute jewel. The engine cases, triple clamps and hubs were highly polished, while the fiberglass fenders, side panels, airbox and fuel tank were nicely painted. Other niceties included a Femsa ignition, Betor suspension, Akront shoulderless rims and Pirelli tires. In 1974, the suggested retail price was $1395. Today, Pursangs are not on the top of most vintage collectors’ short lists. Most collectors will pay no more than $2000 for a good core (yet to be restored) or $6000 for a nicely restored example. MXA’s featured 1974 Pursang MKVII came from the Brad Morrison collection and resides at the Early Years of Motocross Museum. Other examples of Bultaco’s handiwork in 1974 include the Astro 360cc (TT scrambles and short track) and Sherpa T 350cc.
By 1975, things were falling apart for Bultaco. Blaming labor unrest and market pressures, the Bultaco factory closed in 1979. There were several attempts to revive the Bultaco brand, but all failed until Marc Tessier purchased the Bultaco Sherpa name in 1998 and used it to help launch a range of purpose-built trials machines from his Sherco company.