A look at the history of the Ducati Paso and behind the scenes of Matthew Jones' 'Reset' photo series.
PHOTOS Matthew Jones WORDS Gregory George Moore
The Ducati Paso is one of the more odd machines to have rolled out of the Bologna manufacturer’s factories. Released in 1986 with the tagline "Il nostro passato ha un grande futuro" (Our past has a great future), the Paso was meant to be a foot firmly planted in the future — a statement of vitality. But once it landed on the showroom floor, it was less than a hit. The Paso, however, was a curiosity and most certainly an appropriate byproduct of its moment in history. The ‘80s were a time of hubris and grand promise and the shell-like silhouette of the Paso is the perfect metaphor.
The ’80s were a time of hubris and grand promise and the
shell-like silhouette of the Paso is the perfect metaphor.
By the mid-’80s, Ducati was in financial dire straights due in large part to the onslaught of reliable, high-performance Japanese motorcycles flooding the market. After a few meetings and what were likely many bottles of Barbera, Cagiva bought the floundering company. Initially Ducati was to simply to supply the Cagiva brand with motors, but that tune soon changed as they turned their attention to reviving and rebuilding the Ducati brand. One of the first orders of business was the Ducati Paso 750.
The Paso was named after Renzo Pasolini, an Italian motorcycle racer who died in an accident at Monza racetrack during the 1973 Italian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Renzo “Paso” Pasolini was a crowd favorite and though he never won a world title, his “pin it and hold on” style of racing alongside his off-track playboy antics and abnormal approach toward athleticism (he was an avid smoker and drinker) earned him a place on the podium in the eyes of fans.
Produced from 1986 to 1988, the Paso was designed by the co-founder of Bimota, Massimo Tamburini. Having not invested much in engineering development at that time due to their volatile financial circumstances, Tamburini opted to build the bike around the tried and true 750 Pantah powerplant. The first of the belt-driven camshaft motors with desmodromic valves — versions of which are still being produced today.
Consumers never quite accepted Ducati’s vision of the future. Looking at it now, it’s easy to see that the forward-thinking design and uniquely Italian take on the future was not unlike the Lamborghini Countach or the Ferrari Testarossa. Although the Paso was never the “hit song” that captured the imagination of riders, Ducati and Cagiva pressed hard into racing to reclaim much of the once heralded prestige of the Ducati brand. Though the Paso wasn’t the silver bullet solution they may have been looking for, Cagiva continued their careful guidance of the brand. Were it not for their passion for motorcycles and racing, Ducati might have been lost to the pages of history.
Behind The Lens | Matthew Jones
“Reset” is a personal series produced solely on the premise of challenging myself, getting out of my comfort zone and creating a small body of work that is entirely different from my norm - while still remaining relatable to my current audience and provoking my current influences. From the incredible illustrations of SignalNoise to the cinematic vibes of BladeRunner, sprinkled with a bit of Drive and The Place Beyond the Pines. I wanted neon. I wanted to go as '80s as possible and I can’t think of a better candidate for the subject then the Ducati Paso
As much as possible I wanted to shoot everything in camera, rather than relying on photoshop for special effects. For the lighting, I chose to use two Arri Sky Panels (LED panels with a fully adjustable RGB spectrum) allowing me to authentically provide the complementary hues. To kick in a little extra drama, a Rosco Fogger was set in the back of the scene while placing a small piece of crumpled cellophane in front of the lens for a natural diffraction and foreground element.
Acknowledging my strengths and weaknesses, I also decided the best outcome for this project would be to collaborate and team up with my dear friend and incredible retoucher, Webb Bland.