Mecum Auctions held its most recent motorcycle auction Jan. 22-27 in Las Vegas, and the prices obtained for some of the machines we rode, or wanted to ride, when we were young motorcyclists might seem shocking now.
A 1988 Honda RC30 sold for $121,000; a 1980 Bimota SB2 brought in $56,650 and a 1985 Suzuki GSX-R750 earned the seller $18,700.
Here’s a look at some of the machines that sold at the auction and the prices they commanded. For more information, go to www.mecum.com.
1988 Honda RC30. $121,000. When auctioned, this 750cc Honda RC30 had 1 mile on the odometer from being pushed since it has never been started. The original sales invoice was from WG Bill Tillson Ltd. of Cleveland, Ohio.
This bike came standard with a quick-release front fork system and a single-sided swingarm for quick tire changes. The aluminum frame used two curved extrusions to wrap around the water-cooled engine, which was a V-4 DOHC design with four valves per cylinder. The camshafts were gear driven, the brakes were top-shelf with 4-piston calipers, and the 6-speed gearbox had very close ratios. The engine pumped out 118 horsepower, enabling speeds of more than 150 mph.
1980 Bimota SB2. $56,650. This 750cc machine is one of only 140 ever built. When the Bimota SB2 first came out in 1977, it was one of the most advanced superbikes on the scene. The company‘s first prototype road motorcycle, the SB2, was shown at the Bologna Motor Show in 1976 with a tuned Suzuki GS750 DOHC motor enlarged to 850cc with Yoshimura racing parts, as well as an ultra-light chromoly trellis frame, weighing around 20 pounds.
1985 Suzuki GSX-R 750. $18,700. This racer-replica production bike featured oil-and-air cooling, an aluminum frame, 41mm forks, flat-slide carburetors, triple 300mm drilled disc brakes, 18-inch wheels and magnesium rocker covers. It weighed just 388 pounds dry, which was about 70 pounds lighter than its rivals. The engine produced 106 horsepower at 10,500 rpm.
1969 Honda CB750 Sandcast. $27,500. This is one of the very first models with sandcast crankcases. Mecums notes: “Remarkable as it seems in retrospect, Honda was unsure what the reception for its across-the-frame four-cylinder machine would be and used a technique called permanent mold casting (often referred to as sandcasting, although this is technically inaccurate) for its first few hundred models before investing in molds for die-casting its crankcases. With more than 400,000 of the CB750 model sold between 1969 and 2003, the investment was certainly worthwhile. Those first ‘Sandcast’ models are considered the most collectable of all roadster CB750s, the precursors for the deluge that followed.”
1976 Yamaha RD400. $12,100. The RD400 featured a short wheelbase, light weight, simple 398cc twin-cylinder two-stroke engine and disc brakes. Many aftermarket parts were available, from clip-on handlebars to rearsets to café racer seats and bodywork to bigger pistons.
1975 Kawasaki Z1 900. $18,700. One of the original Superbikes, the Z1 boasts a 903cc, air-cooled dual-overhead-cam engine, no-nonsense styling, a claimed 82 horsepower at 8,500 rpm and a claimed top speed of 130 mph-plus. At a time when two-stroke street bikes were the quickest machines on the streets, the big four-stroke muscle bikes were coming.