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Rare Spanish Classic: 1972 Ossa Stiletto

Motorcycles are an interesting genre within the classic world. They attract a particular breed of individuals who revel in the freedom these machines offer. One of the lesser-known manufacturers was Ossa, a Spanish company that has come and gone from the scene several times. With rumors circulating that the company may reemerge under new ownership, now could be the perfect time to secure one of its classic models. The machine in question is this 1972 Ossa Stiletto, a motocross machine that tasted competition success. Clean examples can command respectable sums in the current market, making this a tempting proposition. Located in Melrose Park, Illinois, you will find the Ossa listed for sale here on eBay. A strong bidding history has pushed the price to $1,913, although that remains short of the reserve.

Ossa is an acronym, with the company’s original name being Orpheo Sincronia Sociedad Anomina. It didn’t gain its start in the automotive world but was renowned for producing cinematographic equipment like film projectors. However, the company’s founder, Manuel Giró, was also a passionate and successful sidecar racer. Following World War II, some advanced two-stroke engine technology emerged from Germany via DKW, and Giró saw this as an opportunity for Ossa to diversify from its bread-and-butter market into motorcycle production. Its first model appeared in 1949, and the company remained in business until 1985, when a joint venture with Bultaco brought the company to its knees. Production recommenced under new ownership in 2010 but ceased again in 2015. Recent rumors have emerged suggesting that production may once again restart under another owner, but nothing appears set in concrete. Our feature Stiletto is largely complete, including some of the distinctive features that set it apart from the competition. These include the beautiful but fragile fiberglass fenders, fuel tank, and fairings. The photos suggest the seat is the correct pleated leather, although the handgrips are aftermarket items in the wrong color. I’m pretty sure that someone may have performed a partial refurbishment because the paint color doesn’t match what you would typically expect on a Stiletto. My information suggests that the paint should be predominantly white with contrasting and hand-painted gold and red striping on the tank and fenders. I haven’t seen a Stiletto in the combination on our feature machine, but I’m happy to be corrected if I’m wrong. The buyer may have to dismantle the machine to perform a restoration that does it justice. Still, it would be a project ideally suited to an enthusiast with limited workshop space.

Like Bultaco and Montessa, Ossa was a Spanish company with a reputation for building powerful equipment. However, it differed from the competition by emphasizing stunning presentation. This machine will require plenty of attention to return to that level of presentation, but it is nothing a patient new owner couldn’t achieve with high-quality metal polishes. The Stiletto rolled out of the factory with its aluminum engine case mirror shiny, while the same was true of the Betor forks, hubs, and Akront rims. In keeping with international competition regulations for the 250cc motocross class, the Stiletto’s engine is a single-cylinder two-stroke unit with a capacity of 249cc. Nailing down a specific power output is difficult, but the Ossa was never found wanting against the competition. The power feeds to the rear wheel via a five-speed transmission that the company introduced in 1971. One innovative design feature is the rear brake activation system. While most manufacturers relied on a rod between the pedal and the rear wheel, Ossa chose a cable system that fed through the side fairing for protection. The seller indicates that although this Stiletto is missing its unique exhaust, it is otherwise complete. They haven’t attempted to coax it into life but indicate the engine has plenty of compression. The transmission is stuck in gear and may require further investigation. Ossa’s demise in North America stemmed from two issues, and one may impact the restoration of this machine. The Stiletto was not cheap when new, and the emergence of affordable Japanese models hurt sales significantly. The other problem was a badly disjointed spare parts network, causing owners headaches locating parts. That may still prove an issue when sourcing items like the exhaust and handgrips, but several companies in Spain hold spares and will ship internationally. That is some comfort for potential buyers when assessing the viability of this project.

I would hate to tally the hours I spent on machines like this 1972 Ossa Stiletto when I was younger. It has been many years since I tasted that sort of freedom, and advancing age makes me wonder what my skeleton would do if I tackled a set of stutter bumps at speed! Even if you’re in the same position as me, there’s no reason why you couldn’t restore a machine like this and take it for a blast around some friendly farmer’s field. The seller states that spotless examples of the Ossa Stiletto can sell for figures beyond $13,000, and recent sales results support that claim. This one requires some work to reach that point, but achieving the goal would be possible for a competent person in a home workshop. If Ossa reenters the market, there’s no doubt that its machinery will be more refined and probably more powerful than this Stiletto. However, you must wonder whether those motorcycles will provide the pure raw excitement available when the rider twists the throttle on this one. Somehow, I doubt it.


  1. Howard A Member

    I’m sure I’m not the only one, looking at this makes old MX injuries ache once again. I had a brief fling with motocross, late 70’s-ish, it was a logical progression from back woods trail riding. A friend was into Elsinores, I, being a bit different, bought a Bultaco Pursang 200. Not sure why, probably a good deal, and with a few issues, like funky left side kick, little suspension, iffy parts, there was 1 (one) dealer in Milwaukee, Competition Cycle on Natiional Ave. that had everything, even Ossa parts, which was unheard of then, even though it was very reliable, and I had a blast with that bike. It easily kept up with other 250s. There were several MX tracks in the midwest, Neenah FunLand, Maplehurst in N. Illinois, Aztalan( you had to be a member) and many more, most closed, I believe, because of liability and noise. I never did become proficient at MX, although once, I did drag my left foot, with the front wheel in the air on the powerband, THAT was fun, but the jumps freaked me out, and with no suspension, it was always a hard landing. I wear a back brace today, thanks in part, to my MX days, but you know, I wear that brace like a badge of honor. I had a lot of fun ruining my back. As always, very cool find, and thanks, BFs and Adam, for the memories.

    Like 9
  2. m matt

    I had no idea that you had a two wheel history !! You have that one on me.
    I thought when all of us talked about our days with our BMC’s whether Triumph, MGA,MGB, Jag, Bugeye, that you and I had a similar car sickness; I got into two wheel stuff late in life (which is recent by the way) and recently sold my last scoot – – which was a restored ’57’ Zundapp Bella and before – -all my Vespas

    Like 1
  3. Terrry

    I remember back then, some guys in the neighborhood raced these bikes..either Ossa, Maico or CZ. They all shared one characteristic. They were easy to take apart and repair. They had to be. They broke all the time! So when they weren’t riding, the guys were wrenching.

    Like 2
  4. Martinsane

    I won’t proclaim to be an expert but I agree with the writer with regards to the color palette.
    I might not be recalling the year but my dad had a 71 and I remember spending a lot of time with that bike as I was 5,6 ish.
    He recently sold it within the last 10 years and it was white as white can be.
    It did have some red, very unobtrusive stripe and I distinctly remember a shamrock on the gas tank. His also had the number 10 on all the number plates. I’ll have to ask if that was factory or if he added them.

    Maybe by 74 this changed?

    Like 1
  5. Glenn Reynolds

    There is a growing interest in vintage MX and enduro bikes. This looks like a good deal. If it had MX or ISDT history, price would double. (Disclosure, I own a Hodaka Wombat and a Penton “six day”)

    • philthyphil

      I own a 72 Ossa MAR, super reliable, also a 80 SWM 320, a 81 Husqvarna 430 and an 81 XR 200 with a 230 crf motor and my Sunbeam Tiger

  6. Dave Mazz

    Too bad the seller of this Ossa wasn’t as interested in bike maintenance as he seems to be in taking pictures. If he was this bike would be in better-than-new condition.

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