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If a bike like this can’t get your heart beating faster I don’t know what will. You don’t even have to be into race or vintage bikes to appreciate the attention to detail and engineering excellence here. We use the term “engineering art” with Bimota alot but this Yosh/Honda just stepped up to the top of the podium as far as that is concerned. Hats off to the seller for providing some beautiful shots of the bike and the story behind it.
The collector who owned this bike for the last 37 years related to us that it was professionally built in 1975 from the frame-up by Yoshimura North, with no expense spared. It is believed that it was built on commission for a privateer race team that wanted to compete in the Bol d’Or 24 endurance race in France, as well as the LeMans 24 hour race.
But the team’s efforts never materialized and the bike never went to Europe. Instead, the bike was immediately purchased by the aforementioned collector and drained of all its fluids. It went directly into his extensive art collection and was stored in his living room as a prized piece for the next 3 decades.
From what we were told, Yoshimura built the motor to their full race specs. They fitted their aluminum racing tank and racing saddle. They equipped it with authentic Honda CR750 CR31 carburetors, the CR750 megaphone exhaust and CR750 tachometer.
They fabricated a custom aluminum oil tank, used aircraft style oil lines and a heavy duty oil cooler, and fitted an ARD racing magneto. They chose Ceriani forks and triple trees up front, and a Dresda swingarm with Koni air shocks in the rear. The bike rides on amazing Kimtab magnesium wheels and Goodyear racing slicks.
Stopping power is provided by Hunt plasma-cut triple discs. Many of the parts on the bike, especially the carburetors, tach, and magnesium wheels are now extremely hard to find and worth quite a large sum in their own right. The bike is fitted with high powered Marchal headlamps, as well as a low-mounted Cibie spotlight on the right front fork. The fit and finish is exquisite, down to the perfectly braided safety wire on various nuts and fasteners.
Racing machines are rarely preserved as new, having never seen the track they were destined for. They are built as a means to an end, a utility, and used as such. They are beaten up, repaired, rebuilt, reskinned. Only a few become truly sought after, the ones that made history through their victories. Ford GT40s, Ferrari Testarossas, Porsche 908s. The Honda CR750 was also one of those machines. And this example has been preserved almost exactly as it was built in 1975, believed to have only ever been ridden a few test miles.
In the early 1970s, Honda had its sights set on the US Market. Although the CB750 had been released in 1969 and received acclaim as a technical tour de force, it had not yet achieved the sales Honda desired. Bob Hansen, the American service manager for Honda, told HQ that they’d have to go racing to make a real impression. Honda had already won the 24 hour Bol d’Or endurance race in France in 1969, but it did not register on the American motorcycle radar. Given the huge popularity of roadbike racing in the 70s, manufacturers were truly experiencing the “race on sunday, sell on monday” phenomenon.
Honda took Hansen’s advice and immediately built 4 individually unique CR750 race bikes in an effort to win the Daytona 200 mile race. They chose 3 British riders and 1969 AMA Grand National titleholder Dick Mann as their pilots. The bikes were equipped with magnesium crankcases, and a broad spectrum of bespoke and lightweight Honda race parts created specifically for them.
During practice, the team suffered numerous mechanical issues. The magnesium crankcases were expanding under high temperatures and the teams worried about total engine failure as a result. To remedy the problem, 4 completely stock CB750 motors were sourced from local dealers. They were modified with the existing CR750 internals. Dick Mann’s team then spotted a weakness in his cam chain tensioner. The team promptly replaced it with a tensioner from a CB450.
The CR750s lined up with over 60 other bikes, including the newest triples from Triumph and BSA, as well as the first XR750 Harley Davidsons. From the drop of the flag to the first corner, Dick Mann shot from his fourth place grid position to a fifty meter lead, using all 93HP he had on tap. He never looked back, and although Champion Gene Romeo was gaining quickly by the finish, Mann crossed the finish line in the lead. It was his first win of the Daytona 200 after 15 attempts.
The win gave Honda the boost they needed. The fact that they did it on stock CB750 cases only helped their case for the road bike. In fact, it created so much demand that Honda released a short run of CR750 kits and parts which they supplied to a select group of dealers. The kits were used to convert a stock CB750K into a race-ready machine using specially designed parts from the CR750 that could simply be bolted on. Today very few of the original kit bikes still exist in complete form with all the original parts.
OK, so enough of the blarb, I am going to leave you with a Plethora of Pics to drool over, I very much doubt we shall see too many of these rare built machines any more, so enjoy and have yourself a grand weekend.