Tagged: 1974

Road and Track: 1974 Laverda SFC 750 for Sale

1974 Laverda SFC R Side Front

It’s been a little while since I’ve seen a Laverda SFC for sale. They are some of the most desirable sportbikes of the 1970s, homologation specials that were quite literally race bikes with some road equipment tacked on. Basically: cut a hole in the fairing for an off-the-shelf headlight, bolt on a speedometer, and stick an awkwardly-angled taillight on the solo-tail section, complete with curved lower edge to accommodate a number-plate…

Voilà: instant road bike!

Of course, many never saw the road at all, and lights, signals, and other equipment were quickly boxed up to prep the bikes for race-duty. Or display.

1974 Laverda SFC L Side

Sold in limited numbers between 1971 and 1976, the Laverda SFC took its name from the enormous front drum brake seen on earlier models. SFC literally stands for Super Freni Competizione or basically, “super-braking race bike.” Later bikes like this one did feature dual discs, and I’m sure those stop very nicely but, like the Moto Guzzi V7 Sport, there’s something about those huge aluminum drums found on early 70s Italian sport bikes… But from the seller’s listing, it looks like much more than just the brakes were updated on the later bikes…

1974 Laverda SFC L Clocks

The basic Laverda parallel twin made for a pretty good foundation for racing. It wasn’t particularly light, but the bike was stiff and very stable, ideal for endurance events. And the engine featured five main bearings for exemplary durability, as the bike in stock form was fairly under-stressed. Stuffed full of factory high-performance goodness, the SFC made 80hp while retaining the standard bike’s rock-solid handling.

1974 Laverda SFC L Side Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Laverda 750 SFC for Sale

The example offered here is an excellent example of the US series 1974 Laverda 750 SFC and comes with a known and documented history. Although it has been slightly modified from original, with a smaller European taillight, Verlicchi twin cable throttle, and no turn signals and reflectors, the sporting soul remains intact.

The late 1950s and early 1960s was not a great time for Italian motorcycle manufacturers. As Italian industry was heavily protected and imports restricted, motorcycle manufacturers survived in a false world where most of their products were consumed by the domestic market. When domestic demand collapsed so did much of the Italian motorcycle industry. Laverda struggled during this period but Massimo Laverda saw a way out, and that was targeting the huge American market.

Massimo was a motorcycle enthusiast, already aware of the move to towards motorcycling as a means of fun and enjoyment instead of basic transportation and was convinced the future lay in large capacity, more sporting machines. Knowing he didn’t have the resources to develop an engine from the ground up, and not wanting to emulate obsolete British designs, Massimo looked at what Honda was doing. Honda released their 305cc CB77 parallel twin “Super Hawk” for 1961 and as this overhead camshaft unit construction engine with horizontally-split crankcases was already proving considerably reliable, Laverda essentially enlarged and strengthened the Honda engine, initially creating a 650, before releasing the 750 in 1969. In long distance endurance racing during 1969 and 1970 the 750 S and SF established Laverda’s reputation for robustness and exceptional all round performance and for 1971 Laverda created the 750 SFC (C for Competizione). The bright orange color scheme of the factory racers became an SFC trademark. Although it was always a limited edition model, even after 1973 when the factory stopped racing the 750 twin, the SFC continued, incorporating many of the developments learnt from three successful years of racing. The 750 SFC was thus a true racing machine, built to the highest standards, that could be ridden on the street and a limited edition replica of a successful factory racer. Few components were shared between the SFC and regular SF, and only in 1974 did production exceed 200 a year.

For 1974 Laverda released an updated 750 SFC, primarily for Italian 750cc production-based racing, one of the leading domestic racing categories. Success in 750 racing was seen as very important publicity and the updated 750 SFC differed considerably in design and concept to the earlier drum brake versions. It was now substantially different to the 750 SF and designed with 750 class production racing in mind rather than endurance racing. Incorporating many developments of the 1973 factory bikes, the 1974 750 SFC was one of the outstanding sporting machines of the era. With its low frame and sculptured looks the 1974 750 SFC was also a styling triumph. There was also a specific US version this year but while these North American examples were slightly different in equipment the engine and chassis specifications were the same as the European model.

1974 Laverda SFC Rearset

Just 549 of these were made over the short production run, making them very desirable. This example looks to be in excellent condition and is being offered up by a seller who’s featured regularly on these pages, as he often seems to have very rare and very interesting motorcycles available. There is still some time left on the auction and bidding is up north of $37,000 although the reserve has not been met which is no surprise, given the condition and rarity of this SFC.

-tad

1974 Laverda SFC R Side

Sparkly Two-Stroke Terror: 1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Mach III for Sale

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Front

In the early 1970s, Kawasaki’s two-stroke triples like this H1 500 Mach III ruled the quarter-mile drag strips here in America. 60hp and a 115mph top speed may not sound like that much, but they were fairly light and lacked any of the modern electronic trickery designed to keep riders [mostly] on two wheels and away from the hedges, ditches, and telephone poles that seem to leap out of nowhere. Those horses also came on in a brutal, two-stroke rush that had the front wheel pointed skyward in an eyeblink, while sometimes unpredictable handling and a feeble front brake meant corners and stopping were best planned far in advance, a real challenge when the horizon was a simple flick of the wrist away.

Although the handling may have been primitive, the two-stroke triple and five speed gearbox that drove the beast was powerful, relatively reliable, and the perfect tool for tearing up the straight-line racetracks here in the USA, where they sold like hotcakes, since the scary cornering performance, dismal fuel consumption, and inadequate brakes barely mattered for most riders.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Rear

The upside to the handling faults of many period motorcycle is that it allowed a whole cottage industry of frame-builders and tuners to exist: without bikes like the H1, we’d have no Bimota, and the world would be a sadder, emptier place. But the real question to me is why, since frame-builders of note had been around since the 1960s, didn’t Japanese manufacturers simply contract them to provide improvements? Especially since the issues that affected the H1 are relatively straightforward: frames lacking in stiffness, spindly forks that flexed, and primitive shocks. It’d be simple to dismiss those flaws as acceptable limitations for production-based motorcycles, but many racebikes of the period seem to have been similarly afflicted, so it seems like a pool of knowledge wasn’t being exploited.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 R Rear

The H1 500 Mach III and the H2 750 Mach IV were both notoriously dangerous bikes that required skill and daring to ride quickly, although the H2 was significantly improved in terms of handling, a good thing considering the additional 50% in displacement… Interestingly, while the H2 was introduced after the H1, it was sold alongside its older, hairier brother for several years. Bidding for this example is just north of $4,000 and far short of the $7,500 Buy It Now price, although there’s plenty of time left on the auction.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Triple for Sale

Completely restored less than a year ago!
VIN BL353836
Open MA title
7806 miles
Dual disc front end braided steel lines
Rebuilt engine, less than 1000 miles ago
Powder-coated frame and wheels
Denco pipes
Custom Pearl Paint with candy color
Stainless spokes, powder-coated rims, extra chrome
Three small dents in rear of front fender (cannot be seen).
Runs and sounds awesome!

H1 and H2 prices have seen a dramatic increase in recent years, although values do seem to have leveled off a bit recently. That may be due to the fact that these were made in volume and, although pristine ones are pretty rare, it’s not all that hard to find a decent H1 if you want one. Although the seller claims that the bike has been “restored,” it’s important to remember that term does seem to mean different things to different people… This bike has obviously not been restored to some sort of “as-new” standard: the original bikes certainly didn’t have the painted triple clamps, the headlight ring is blacked out, the dash appears to have been painted, and the gauge faces are pretty faded.

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 Dash

That being said, the Denco pipes and the dual disc front end are certainly desirable updates, and the bike is very clean and shiny, with bright brightwork and chrome-y chrome. The paint, while not original, is definitely appropriate for a Kawasaki and, overall, this bike is more “resto-modded” and less “restored.” So while this bike may not be a good choice for collectors who prize originality, it might make a great bike for someone looking for a bike to ride, as long as the seller recognizes that the bike should command a lower price than a concourse-quality restoration when considering offers.

-tad

1974 Kawasaki H1 500 L Front

Round-Case Roadster: 1974 Ducati GT750 for Sale

1974 Ducati GT750 L Front

The round-case Ducati 750 Sport and Super Sport get most of the attention, with their sexy looks and uncompromising riding positions. But the GT750 was actually the first roadgoing Ducati to use their famous L-twin engine and is a far more practical package, for riders that plan to spend more time riding than admiring their motorcycles.

1974 Ducati GT750 R Side

Introduced in 1971, the 748cc 90° twin is the beautiful, beating heart of the bike. Tower shafts and bevel-drive housings on the head suggest Ducati’s desmodromics, but unlike modern Ducatis, only the top-of-the-line Super Sports got the Desmo system, and the GT made do with simple valve springs.

I understand that modern performance and reliability come with the need for radiators, wires, and little black plastic boxes, but there’s something very appealing about the finned aluminum center of this beast. Visually, it dominates the bike in the best sense, and drips with a combination of engineering and craftsmanship. And with 60 claimed horsepower and lots of torque, it offers up plenty of real-world performance, even today.

1974 Ducati GT750 Tank Engine

This 1974 example would have been one of the very last bikes built before the switch to the less elegant square-case engines. There’s little performance difference, but purists prefer the more elegant round-case bikes, and it’s easy to see why.

1974 Ducati GT750 Throttle

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Ducati GT750 for Sale

For sale a 1974 Ducati GT750, this bike is a very clean rider in good condition with many rare hard to find items, I’ve owned this iconic Ducati for the past 7 years. The Kentucky title clean/clear in my name and in hand.

Motor was completely rebuilt by Saarland Ducati (Bevel specialist in Germany) in 2012 it has approximately 800 miles on the rebuild, during those 800 miles the bevels/shims clearances was checked for tolerance around 400-500 miles with no issues. 

Installed Dyna electronic ignition making this Beautiful bike more user rider friendly, the PHF 30’s cleaned last September 2015, new battery installed Dec 2015. Bike starts with a couple of kicks, idles and runs nicely and sounds great through the original Conti’s.

The hard to find parts:

  • Borrani’s rims 18″/19″ with new Metzler Lasertec tires (zero miles)
  • Aprilia dash, horn/hi-beam switch, headlight and fuse box, 
  • Original seat pan with a very nice reproduction seat cover
  • Tommaselli handbar and throttle assembly 
  • Marzocchi shocks
  • Ceriani forks
  • Original Conti exhaust system 
  • Dellorto PHF 30A carburetors 
  • Dyna electronic ignition 
  • Clean rust free tank, original steel side covers, the Burnt Orange paint’s in very nice condition and was done in 2008 
  • New battery
  • Rare side stand and center stand

Runs good with no issues

I’ve enjoyed this beautiful motorcycle for several years but, now its time to shift my collection and let someone else enjoy this fantastic bike.

1974 Ducati GT750 R Front

Bidding is up over $15,000 with very little time left on the auction, with a Buy It Now price of just under $20,000. Obviously, this bike’s days as “the affordable Bevel” are long past, but this particular example looks to have been well cared for by a enthusiast owner, and the GT750 offers up plenty of style, performance, and a dash of practicality.

-tad

1974 Ducati GT750 L Side

Oooh, Shiny! 1974 Norton Commando Roadster

1974 Norton Commando R Side Front

Classic British motorcycles like this 1974 Norton Commando seem to have their devoted legions of fans for the same reasons American musclecars do: they’re relatively available, easy to tinker with and modify, and simple to make into a strong statement that reflects the individual owner, for better or for worse. Parts interchange between models and even brands, the basic engineering is solid, or at least straightforward to remedy, and there is huge aftermarket support.

Nortons of the period were a bit like the John Bloor’s resurrected Triumph of the 1990s: modular designs allowed the factory to tailor bikes to fit niche markets, like the Interstate that was clearly intended to speak to American fans. But after the 1973 shift from the 750 to the 850 version, they were all built around the 828cc engine in different states of tune.

1974 Norton Commando L Side Rear

They also featured Norton’s solution for the increasing vibration supplied by their ever-larger parallel twin. Parallel twins are compact and inexpensive to manufacture compared to a v-twin or multi. But while modern models use all sorts of balance-shaft trickery to prevent vision-blurring and hand-numbing vibration, bikes in the 1950s and 1960s relied on tricks like odd rubber footpegs [see: Benelli Tornado] or the sheer cussedness of the rider to combat fatigue.

1974 Norton Commando L Side Engine

Norton’s solution was the perfect example of plucky British workshed engineering: they basically used rubber mounts to isolate the engine, transmission, and swingarm from the rider. Those bits were left to vibrate happily while the rider racked up the miles in relative comfort. For such a simple concept, the Isolastic mounting system works very well but must be carefully maintained, as worn bushings can lead to vague and unpredictable handling.

1974 Norton Commando R Side

This particular machine’s classic looks actually suggest a 1950s machine to me, with all that bare, polished metal. But the builder has clearly spent a great deal of effort and money to update the bike functionally in as many ways as possible.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Norton Commando for Sale

Custom build using the best parts available. I started with a 1974 frame and installed a 750 hi performance motor that I rebuilt for just such an occasion. Most if not all the parts are new or better than OEM replacements.

This is a partial list:
Engine # 20M3S 132501
New valves, springs, pistons and rings
High performance camshaft
Amal 32mm carbs
Dave Taylor head steady
Venhill braided Stainless rocker feed lines
“Big Bore” 1-1/2″ exhaust system
RGM Belt Drive Primary
Quaife polished gearbox case
Alton Electric start kit
Shorai Battery
Stainless steel transmission adjustment hardware kit
Jim Comstock hydraulic actuated clutch with Brembo Master cylinder
New drive chain with 21tooth countershaft sprocket
New polished Excel rims with stainless steel spokes and nipples
New Bridgestone tires
Hagon Shocks
Performance machine 4 piston caliper with Brembo Master cylinder
Baja Designs light switch / directional switch combo
Solid state charging system
Rebuilt gauges
Custom quartz headlight incorporating LED turn signals
RGM 3.5 gallon custom alloy gas tank
Custom alloy seat and Corbin gunfighter seat
New fork tubes, seals etc
Bucketloads of stainless steel hardware
New wiring harnesses

As you can see from the list, this is a serious amount of money invested in the parts alone. The Alton E-Start kit alone retails for $2495 and drives the crank directly without going through the primary so it spins the engine with very little effort. If you’re looking for something completely different, this is the one. I have ridden the bike to put some shakedown miles on it and everything is working well.

1974 Norton Commando R Side Rear

Oftentimes, it’s the perfectly preserved, completely original bikes that command the hearts and dollars of collectors. But the Commando seems to buck that trend, as long as the updates and modifications are the right updates and modifications… Bidding is currently up to $9,100.00 with the Reserve Not Met and a $14,995.00 Buy It Now option. Nortons were always easy to modify and lent themselves to tinkering, modifying, and improving. A bit like the MGB, you can just about build one from an aftermarket catalog, assuming you have a frame number to start with. This one seems to use the best of the old and the best of the new to create something that captures the classic British biking spirit.

It may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is very classic and the completed bike is very… polished.

-tad

1974 Norton Commando L Side

Ahead of Its Time: 1974 John Player Norton Commando for Sale

1974 Norton Commando JPN Fairing Front

You’d be forgiven for not realizing that this very strange-looking John Player Norton Replica is, under the skin, a Commando: buyers didn’t know quite what to do with this at the time, either. It’s a bit of an evolutionary “missing link” in terms of sportbike design, effectively bridging the gap between earlier bullet-like dustbin fairings and modern designs as seen on the first-generation GSX-R750. Cutting-edge design unfortunately cuts both ways: while theoretically new ideas should excite consumers, manufacturers always run the risk that their revolutionary machines will actually alienate their core audience. Take the Pierre Terblanche-styled Ducati 999 for example: the bike was, in virtually every way, an improvement over the beloved 916 and the design was a complete departure for Ducati. The 999 is finally, grudgingly being accepted as a classic design but when new it was too much of a departure, too new, too alien to be the follow up Ducatisti were waiting for. And sales were disappointing.

1974 Norton Commando JPN R Fairing

The John Player Norton Replica suffered a similar fate. Named after the famous British tobacco company, the few made didn’t find an audience at first and some languished unsold for years. Keep in mind that the whole concept of collectable motorcycles is relatively new, and few people were interested in race-replicas or limited editions. On the upside, if the odd styling captures your imagination, this should offer no real challenge to ride and maintain: aside from gearing changes to take advantage of the bike’s improved top-speed potential, the bike is basically a stock Norton Commando.

1974 Norton Commando JPN L Tank

It uses the 828cc version of Norton’s famous parallel-twin engine and four-speed box found in the 850 Commando. A short-stroke 750 was also available for buyers that planned to race their machines in the US, although I’ve never seen one come up for sale and I’m not sure exactly how many of the 200 total machines took advantage of this option.

1974 Norton Commando JPN L Seat

From the original eBay listing: 1974 John Player Norton Commando for Sale

Very, very nice John Player Special. These do not come up very often. Many, many more vintage motorcycle available…

The seller then goes on to list a number of other vintage machines they have available. Which is great, but a bit of that space could have been used to answer some questions about this machine: does it run? What work, maintenance, or upgrades have been done to the bike in question? Aside from the fact that it has 12,465 miles on it so we know it’s not been sitting its whole life, we’re left to guess. I’m sure the seller is probably expecting prospective buyers to ask appropriate questions. But although these are pretty rare, with just 120 shipped to the US, they’re not impossible to find, and many buyers want to do their initial research without having to reach out to the seller. It’d also be great to see some better pictures of this very distinctive machine, although the close-up shots do show some great detail and give a pretty good idea of the overall condition.

-tad

1974 Norton Commando JPN L Fairing

Original Axe Murderer: Unrestored 1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV for Sale

1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV L Side

There’d been plenty of fast bikes prior to the Kawasaki two-stroke triples, of course, but while those were “introduced” in a conventional sense, the H1 and H2 were more accurately “unleashed on an unsuspecting public.” Never before had a bike’s ferocious engine so overwhelmed the limited chassis technology and brakes of the period in such a marketable way.

1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV R Side Front

By modern standards, and on paper, the power of the bigger 750 was fairly modest: just 75hp in a 450lb motorycle. But that was on paper. In reality, it wasn’t the quantity that made the power so terrifying, it was the sudden and violent two-stroke delivery. I’m sure you could ride your buddy’s around all day at low rpm and wonder what the fuss was all about. But whack that throttle open and hold it, hold it, and it would try to yank your arms out of their sockets.

Which was also fine, until you tried to stop, or go around a corner.

1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV Dash.JP

That lightswitch delivery combined with feeble brakes and a flexible frame that laughed in the face of words like “handling” and “stability.” This was a gas-sucking straight-line monster that suited American roads, the perfect Japanese alternative to big-displacement bikes like Kawasaki’s own Z1 that were so popular here during that period.

1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV R Engine

Many of the Mach IV’s that show up here on eBay seem to be painted in a very nice blue color that suits the bike very well. But this original, unmolested bike is an appropriately 70s green that is far more subtle and effectively evokes that glorious period of polyester and 8-tracks.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV for Sale

You are bidding on a 1974 Kawasaki H2, 750 Mach IV, often referred to as “THE WIDOW MAKER”. My brother Mike bought this bike new in 1975 and it has never been for sale since that time, he has decided to sell it now.

This is a one owner 1974 Kawasaki H2 Mach IV in excellent condition.  This is an all original, ALWAYS GARAGED collectors piece that runs as designed.  This is a survivor, it has never been painted, it has the original title, seat, original mufflers, owners manual, etc.

The title is a MO title.  In MO you can keep the old title for your collection and apply for your new title in your name.

This bike even with the few dents and paint issues is as nice a bike as you will find that has never been restored and has been owned by only one person.  The bike was purchased new from Junior Mills Kawasaki in JoplinMO the first quarter of 1975.  The original title says 4/10/1975.

There are 11,000 original and accurate miles on this bike.  The chain, sprocket, tires and some rubber parts were replaced approximately 1000 miles and 5 years ago. It is in excellent running condition and runs like it did when new.  I have driven it about 100 miles in the last few days, it’s fun.  If you have never driven one of these it is an experience.

1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV R Side Rear

As they say, “it’s only original once” and that’s especially desirable when “original” is as nice as this one appears to be. While heavily patina’d bikes are all the rage these days, I’d personally rather ride around on something that cleans up nicely and shines a bit.

All of Kawasaki’s wild two-stroke triples are currently rocketing upwards in value, so at $6,500.00 with five days left on the auction, this one is obviously nowhere near its final price.

-tad

1974 Kawasaki H2 750 Mach IV R Side

The Real Thing? 1974 Ducati 750 Sport for Sale

1974 Ducati 750 Sport R Front

One of the best-looking bikes of this or any other period, the Ducati 750 Sport is one of those machines that looks fast, even standing still, the kind of bike that people will stop and stare at when they see one parked on the street, even if the next words out of their mouth are, “Ducati… Is that made by Harley?

1974 Ducati 750 Sport Low R Front

Very spare and very lean, the 750 Sport was the marginally faster, significantly less comfortable version of the 750GT. The tank was longer, and narrower for a sleeker profile, with a classic “bum-stop” seat along with racy clip-ons and rearsets.

1974 Ducati 750 Sport R Engine

It included larger carburetors and high-performance engine internals you’d expect, although it did not use Desmodromic valves, something that was found only on the Super Sport models until the introduction of the Pantah engine in 1980. But from a visual standpoint, the Sport still has that classic, “round-case” bevel-drive style, with the pronounced tower-shaft housings and bevel-gear castings in the heads.

1974 Ducati 750 Sport Front Brakes

This example also features a dual-disc brake front end, which is a nice, period-appropriate upgrade to the much more common single unit. In typical Ducati form, “whatever’s on the shelf” seemed to apply to these bikes, with Lockheed, Scarab, and Brembo calipers being used depending on the bike, day of the week, and mood of the guy at the factory putting it together.

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Ducati 750 Sport for Sale

This bike was bought by it current owner in 1975 with 1,300 miles on it.
The bike has some minor upgrades to its electricals and mechanicals.
It also includes a GT seat, tank and bar adapter kit as pictured.
Wow! Nice Bike!

1974 Ducati 750 Sport L Front2

Make no mistake, this looks like it is a very “Nice Bike.” But the short and to-the-point description does leave some unanswered questions. “10,000” miles are indicated in the listing, but the odometer clearly shows 30,000. And the bike has obviously received more than “minor upgrades” as the paint is different, the exhaust is different, the top triple and bars are different. So exactly what is the story with this bike? What kind of motorcycle do we have here? Is it really a Sport, or a dressed up GT?

1974 Ducati 750 Sport L Engine

I’m guessing that this was originally a 750 Sport that the owner modified with higher controls and a more comfortable seat to make the bike more practical, along with a few other “aesthetic” changes like the blacked-out Contis. Then the bike was more recently put back into its original configuration, perhaps with an eye towards selling it.

1974 Ducati 750 Sport Dash

The odometer readings do seem to add up, assuming the seller hasn’t ridden the bike much since the restoration, and the photos in the original listing clearly display a VIN number and stampings on the engine cases. Any of our expert readers care to chime in on this one? It’s obviously in beautiful shape, but is it one to ride, or one to collect?

-tad

1974 Ducati 750 Sport L Rear

Faster! Faster! Supercharged and Fuel Injected 1974 Norton 850 Commando

1974 Norton Commando SC L Side

Introduced in 1967 and displacing 745cc’s with pre-unit construction that was rather unimpressive in specification, Norton’s Commando was a development of the Atlas and distinguished by its simple but effective “Isolastic” engine-mounting system that allowed for the needed increase in displacement without the associated increase in paint-shaker vibrations. The Commando’s rakish leaned-over engine was largely a visual update to the engine, although Norton also claimed an improved center of gravity and increased space for carburetors and airbox.

1974 Norton Commando SC L Engine

So for vintage biking fans, the Norton Commando has it all: decent power, classic good looks, a great soundtrack, and tons of aftermarket and community support. All it really needs is a bit more poke and something to make it just that bit more exotic so it stands out in a crowd.

1974 Norton Commando SC Dash

Kawasaki have gotten a lot of ink recently with the introduction of their supercharged H2 and H2R bikes. While there have been a number of production turbocharged motorcycles, supercharging generally seems to suit motorcycles a bit better: the performance is more linear and the plumbing is much simpler.

1974 Norton Commando SC R Rear

Simply: a supercharger is generally belt-driven off the crankshaft and works as an air pump to cram more fuel/air mixture into the engine than would be available at normal atmospheric pressure. Technically, a turbocharger is also a type of supercharger, but is driven by exhaust gas instead of a belt, meaning power is determined by throttle-opening and revs. Turbos are a great way to get “free” horsepower, but since turbos are driven by exhaust gasses, you have to route all that air from the exhaust to the turbo and back into the engine. Something that’s generally not such a big deal with cars, but often difficult and very inconvenient on a bike.

1974 Norton Commando SC Oil Cooler

This particular Norton 850 Commando is fitted with a period Drouin supercharger unit. Period tests saw north of 100hp, up from the approximately 60hp produced by the stock unit. Early versions used a side-valve carburetor that apparently leaked, so this later, fuel-injected setup should be a big improvement.

From the original eBay listing: Supercharged and Fuel Injected 1974 Norton 850 Commando for Sale

A 1974 Norton 850 SC Commando with 13,669 original miles. A series of tasteful custom features adore this wonderful street bike. They include the following; Competition Fairing, Full instrumentation Package, Wickedly Beautiful Black Paint, Corbin Gun Fighter Seat, Carry On Tool Kit, Light Weight Front Fender, Back Dated & Vented Front Drum Brake, Custom Oil Lines, Twin Oil Coolers and the incredibly Rare Drouin Super Charger with Fuel Injection. 

The Drouin unit, Slide Throttle Fuel Injection unit and the Instrument Package were after market item that could have been purchased in the 1970’s, through the Norton dealer. The Drouin Super Charger and the Slide Throttle Fuel Injection unit are fully operational and produces amazing and quick 100 HP. The Fuel Injected Slide Throttle system was the very last iteration of the Drouin Super Charged series intake systems, therefore, being the most advanced and powerful. Upon riding this custom Norton there is sense of amazement in the additional torque and power that comes from the bike. It runs properly and smoothly. The shifting in precise and positive. The brakes are quite ample in bringing this bike to a halt. The tire have some age on them, but are quite usable. The fuel tank interior has been cleaned and sealed. 

The rear fender has some small dimples and a little discoloring. There is some very minor pitting on the wheels, a 1/8″ hole that had been drilled through the front, between the forks. Otherwise, this Norton 850 SC was shown recently at the prestigious “Riding Into History” Motorcycle show in May and was judged as a first runner up in the all Norton class, next to a very well known, twin engine Bonneville Norton. A spare Super Charger Drive Belt is included with the sale of the Norton, as well as an original Drouin Super Charger Manual.

1974 Norton Commando SC L Rear

Drouin superchargers are desirable period mods should add significantly to the performance and value of this bike. Bidding is very active at this point, with several days left on the auction. I’m thinking this would make for a possibly fiddly, but very rewarding motorcycle. I’d love to hear that classic British twin noise with a supercharger whine laid over the top!

-tad

1974 Norton Commando SC Front

Widowmaker: 1974 Yamaha TZ750A for Sale

1974 Yamaha TZ750A L Front

As is so often the case in motorsports, the power generated by Yamaha’s four-cylinder TZ750 racing machines far outstripped their relatively primitive handling. Putting the 140hp of a modern sportbike into a twin-shock, spindly-framed motorcycle with bicycle-skinny tires was a test of the most skilled reflexes and, combined with the vicious powerband of a two-stroke, made these professional-grade motorcycles in every way.

1974 Yamaha TZ750A Clocks

This was the bike to beat during the 1970’s and even newer bikes from Kawasaki and Suzuki couldn’t reliably compete with the TZ. Powerful, reliable, and eventually even nimble, the TZ750 was ridden by men brave enough to hang on while the Yammie dragged them, kicking and screaming, to victory.

1974 Yamaha TZ750A Engine

Interestingly, while the bike is listed as a 1974 TZ750, the 750 was actually introduced in 1975 and featured a sleeker look that eventually included a monoshock rear suspension that made the power more controllable and the bike overall less terrifying to ride. The early bikes were reportedly built up from a pair of liquid-cooled 350 twins to make the TZ700, which is supported by the seller’s mention of the “347cc” stamped into the side of the engine.

1974 Yamaha TZ750A L Rear

From the original eBay listing: Yamaha TZ750A Road Racer for Sale

Engine and Frame Number: 409 – 000191.

HISTORY:
This motorcycle was imported to the USA (Los Angeles) in the first batch of (95) TZ750A models for the 1974 racing season, per the Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. Shipping Invoice No. A-1547.
It was initially raced by Denny Fox and Bill Betts and entered by Syl Kulaga of the “Twin K” Sport Center in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.
The Yamaha has since been stored in temperature controlled conditions for more than 30 years.

IDENTIFICATION:
Matching numbers are stamped on the Engine and Frame, as shown in the pictures 23 & 24.
The Cylinder Barrels have the following identification cast on the rear: “40900” on the Left side and “347cc 409000” on the right.
The Mikuni 34SC carburettors are lightly stanped L38 on #1 and B3X on the other 3.
The tires are Goodyear Motorcycle Road Racer 3.25-18 & 3.75-18.

ORIGINALITY:
The Yamaha was restored using the TZ750A Parts List and is original in almost every detail except for the following:
1) The troublesome original exhaust pipe support band has been replaced by a compression spring and bracket design, which is shown in many of the pictures. The original support band is available with the motorcycle (Part Number 409-14715-02).
2) The front brake flexible hoses do not have a matching appearance.

CONDITION:
The fairing, fuel tank, seat, front fender, frame, swing arm and attaching black parts have been professionally painted to the highest standard.
However, this is not a 100% restoration because some of the replacement metric fasteners are “non-Yamaha” and a few of the components are not perfectly plated. Also, the screen has some lower area imperfections which are concealed by it’s installation inside the fairing.
The rubber grips on the footrests, handlebars, gear and brake levers and the seat cover are intentionally left unrestored to give the Yamaha a “previously raced appearance”.

1974 Yamaha TZ750A Engine2

So while you won’t be taking this to the track without some work to get it running, it is otherwise impressively clean for a 41 year old motorcycle that was designed to do one thing and one thing only: go really fast. Racing motorcycles are generally not designed to look good up close and are used ruthlessly by teams and riders to win races, and the life span of most racebikes is very short. Considering that hard life, this bike looks beautiful and although it has been on display for most of its life, it was originally used in anger, and many race fans will pay shocking prices to get this close to such a legendary race bike.

-tad

1974 Yamaha TZ750A R Front

Better Than New: 1974 Norton VR880 Kenny Dreer Commando

1974 Norton VR880 L Side

The original resto-mod, the Kenny Dreer VR880 was basically a vintage Norton Commando with most of the quirks ironed out and all of the character left in. Unlike John Player, Kenny Dreer was an actual person, a vintage bike restorer with a shop in Portland, Oregon that specialized in British and Italian bikes.

1974 Norton VR880 Engine Detail

The VR880 was the culmination of his experience, a low volume “production” machine that was basically a ground-up restoration that featured modern components wherever possible for reliability, and a bored-out motor for thumping British power. The VR880 gave way to the 961SS before financial problems called a halt to the operation.

1974 Norton VR880 Rear Suspension

From the polished aluminum tank and tail to the vented primary cover, this thing just embodies the very best of what people love about classic British twins. I’d just change those very, very ugly white-faced gauges for something a little more traditional-looking.

1974 Norton VR880 Clocks

From the original eBay listing: 1974 Kenny Dreer VR880 Norton Commando for Sale

Up for sale is my 1974 Kenny Dreer VR880 Norton Commando that is all original and in outstanding condition with only 1,138.5 miles. Kenny Dreer built a total of 50 VR880’s and only 5 were built with aluminum tank, sidecovers and rear fender. Mine is one of the 5. I did a lot of research and found out the brother of the original owner of my bike ordered a VR880 from Kenny and had a bad accident and totaled the bike leaving only 4 aluminum built bikes remaining. The aluminum work was hand formed by Evan Wilcox. As you can see in the pictures I have all the original paperwork, the original purchase agreement signed by Kenny Dreer and the Serial number on the purchase agreement matches that of the bike, I also have the dyno test for the bike. The bike still has the original tires from when the bike was built. I believe there isn’t another VR880 with all the paperwork that goes along with it to be found. The bike should be in a museum or with a serious collector.

No arguing there. It’s certainly got a few nicks and bits of wear and tear, but patina is what many people want from a vintage British motorcycle, so that shouldn’t deter anyone from a purchase. As the seller indicates, these are very rare in any configuration and, while the price will be somewhere north of $14,000 when the dust settles, that’s a pretty fair price for a well-tuned and heavily updated Norton.

-tad

1974 Norton VR880 R Side