Dirk Oehlerking’s most famous build – the White Phantom – is currently sitting in our Custom Revolution exhibit at the Petersen Museum. It’s a fantastic machine, with a slightly retro 1960s show-bike vibe, mixed with some real world performance, as it has a turbocharger under its bodywork. The bike attracted huge attention around the world, and Dirk was told by several designers he respects (namely Ola Stenegärd, Christian Pingitzer and Roland Stocker) that the White Phantom would be “hard to top.” It’s an understandable sentiment, when such a compelling creation becomes your signature achievement: the same applies for visual artists or musicians who create a masterpiece – where do you go from there?
Dirk explains his response: “Of course, this feedback does not leave me with any rest, but arouses my ambition and inspiration. I did not want to “top” the White Phantom, I wanted to put a partner / brother beside it. White and Black, Black and White: they belong together! I was dreaming of phantoms that appear from nowhere, that leave you breathless then disappear, leaving only an impression. I came up with a lot of ideas, had a lot of doubts, pulled my hair, lost sleep, but that was my process.”
His goal was to build a bike that demonstrated an idea that “no high end technique is needed to create something special.” He needed tremendous creativity, some interesting ideas, and an understanding of good design, but also an educated pair of hands to build the bike, coupled with knowledge, experience, and skills.
The building process took months without stopping, and Dirk’s goal was the build the Black Phantom with no welding on the frame, no frame stretching or drilling. It was his goal to use as many OEM BMW parts as possible, from 1951-79, with only a handful of additional accessories. The list reads like a jumbled BMW parts catalog, with the oldest piece an R51 tank badge, and the newest several bits from an R100RS, plus the odd instrument or Hoske exhaust system. The fuel tank and bodywork was all made from 2mm thick aluminum sheet, shaped by hand at Kingston Custom, which is the important thing: “The Black Phantom is 100% Kingston Custom: it’s a one-man show.”