White Line Fever: 1978 Kawasaki Z1R-TC for Sale

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo L Side

One of the things I love about vintage cars and bikes is their experimental quality: new ideas were implemented left and right, although some of those ideas were less well-developed than others. “Half-baked” even, you might say… While this may not have led to the most satisfying customer experience, it certainly made for an interesting ride.

The Kawasaki Z1R-TC is one such bike, a glorious nightmare of potential litigation: buyers signed waivers and were sternly admonished by a Very Serious Sticker not to adjust the wastegate and increase boost beyond factory settings. Designed as a stopgap to move product and stimulate interest in the obsolete Z1R before the introduction of the much more modern GPz, work on the turbocharged version was farmed out to the Turbo Cycle Company. Kawasaki simply bolted “fully-developed” turbo kits onto completed Z1R’s.

Note the quotation marks.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo R Side Detail

The TC was anything but fully-developed: lag was so bad on early turbo bikes that passing technique generally involved holding the throttle open to keep boost up while dragging the rear brake, waiting for an opening in traffic. Bolt-on turbo kits generally run very conservative boost to reduce the chances of grenading stock internals that were never designed to handle the hellish pressures generated by primitive turbochargers. The TC ran 8-10psi, certainly not a patch on modern systems running 30+, but more than enough to turn engine internals into externals.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo L Side Rear

Upgraded internals were available for purchase at the dealer, but most buyers didn’t bother, and that might have kept some riders from killing themselves by encouraging a gentler throttle hand. Which is not a bad thing: the Z1R wasn’t exactly well-endowed in the braking and suspension departments. Or the frame-stiffness department, for that matter: handling that was best described as “stable in a straight line, at least” only got worse with the addition of 50% more horsepower that came on in an unpredictable, laggy turbo rush.

Too much boost in a corner and you could do a really good impression of an extra in a Michael Bay action movie, highsiding into the trees while your motorcycle explodes.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo Booooooost

From the original eBay listing: 1978 Kawasaki Z1R TC for Sale

1978 Kawasaki Z1R TURBO “TC”

NOT A CLONE!!!

Here is your chance to own a rare vintage Japanese sports bike. Opportunities like this do not come very often. There were only approximately 250 of these bikes in this particular color combo made. This bike has less than 6,300 miles on body / original engine. Rebuilt (1250cc) motor has very few, if any miles on it. I have owned this bike since 1980 with only 50 miles on it! This bike is in great condition for its vintage. It has been stored indoors for many years and fired right up when it was taken out of storage.

This bike is incredibly unique and is certainly an excellent example of a rare vintage sport bike. Paint and decals are all original and chrome is still looking great!

The photos will speak for themselves.

Great cruiser bike with enough power for low 1/4 mile ETs
This bike went through an $11,000 rebuild with a 1250cc engine right before it was put in storage.
This bike has a Cal-Fab Swingarm which is 3 1/2 inches longer
The original engine (1015cc) is included in this sale.
This bike features an American Turbo Pak turbo charger:
Model Number 370-F-40-A
Serial Number 00075935
Part Number TC-247-99
Original Engine Number (1015cc): KZT100DE 005674
Built Engine Number (1250cc): KZT00AE015961

This example has very low miles and, aside from the some rust on the chain, looks to be in excellent condition. The new motor should make even more power, but at least be able to not explode when it comes on boost. So likely the engine will last longer than an enthusiastic rider… That extended swingarm will do the handling no favors, but this thing never went around corners anyway, and it should help with straight-line stability and hard launches from stoplights.

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo Rear Wheel

Aside from the obvious collector value and bike-night posing, that’s what this bike is really good at: burnouts and stoplight drag-races. Imagine the hilarity: buy some beater Z1 bodywork to stick on it, and go out superbike trolling on a Friday night.

-tad

1979 Kawasaki Z1R TC Turbo L Side Front

 

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5 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    ” but more than enough to turn engine internals into externals” Good line, I’ll have to remember that

  2. Aaron says:

    Oh, my. Yes. A thousand times Yes.

  3. tad says:

    Well I’m glad you liked it. I try really hard to keep these interesting!

  4. christhewelder says:

    Yes Tad, always a good read! This is for the guys my age, what were we thinking buying, riding these? A buddy of mine had a Z1 he’d let me borrow to go across town to score for him. good times.

  5. Jess says:

    WOW bidding ended at $16.9K and reserve not met. This one is pricey.