Jim Curry’s CR93
The privateer's ultimate weapon
Classic Racer’s Peter Parnham’s journey to get his hands on this lovely bit of racing kit took almost as long to complete as the work on the motorcycle itself. The end result is a great example of the breed.
I remember it clearly – the stillness and absolute lack of sound as the 40,000 people crowded into the natural amphitheatre that is Mallory Park held their collective breath.
Iswear that a butterfly landing on a leaf would have been heard by all. Then the starter’s flag dropped; there was the patter of feet and the spluttered cacophony of assorted two-stroke engines; but above it all was the booming howl of the small collection of Honda CR93S that resonated off the surrounding low hills and corrugated roofs of the paddock buildings. Their long open megaphone exhausts sent the cumulative decibels far and wide. It was 1964 and I, as a young ‘gofer’ for one of Lincolnshire’s finest, Derek Chatterton, competing with his CR93, was hooked. This was what racing was about! I was determined to compete myself some day, as and when finances allowed. In the mid -1960s the lightweight racing machine to have wasw the beautifully designed and engineered 125cc Honda CR93. With regular checkups and changes ofo oil (including warming up the oil over a Primus Stoves on a cold day) the machine could go a full seaason without undue problems. This extremely rel iable machine held sway until the advent of the race- kitted Yamaha AS1S and subsequent AS3 machines.m So, by the time I started racing my Jack Ma achin- framed and race-kitted AS1 in the early 1970s,, apart from their competing in the TT, they were tota ally out- performed. I remember on my very first 12 25cc outing at Croft (having competed on 50s previously) out-speeding one of the few rem maining CR93S (that of Newcastle man Howard Smith) down the straight, but their timet had passed and their value plumm meted. In his book ‘A Laap of My Life’
Jim Curry, who had campaigned a CR93 so successfully (and indeed become British champion) during those 1960s years, always speaks highly of the machine. So much so that in 1973, in what he thought would be his last TT, he once again competed on one. This machine, slightly long in the tooth, belonged to his friend ‘Rommel’ Taylor, who had bought it from Dutchman Hennie Jansen for the princely sum of £250. Jim was lying sixth in the race when, uncharacteristically, the machine seized. However, after waiting for it to cool, he restarted and finished in 21st position, gaining a Bronze Replica. Such was their longevity. It was, as he says: “The first and only time I ever experienced a piston seizure on a CR93.” Some years later Jim purchased the same machine from ‘Rommel’ (for £1000) and dry stored it for possible future use. In 1984 he decided to race in the newly inaugurated ‘Historic TT’. He could compete in the 250cc class if he bored out the engine to 182 or even 190cc. In his book, he describes how he managed to make the machine an ‘over-sized’ 190cc eventually and competed very successfully, finishing third in the 250cc class. Incidentally, the 250cc class race winner was Mac Mcdiarmid on a race-converted Suzuki Super Six. His account of it all was in the Autumn 1984 issue of Classic Racer. After the 1984 TT, Jim began to feel ill and lymphoma was diagnosed. He eventually recovered after very intrusive treatment and raced the CR93 in Classic Races in 1986 (proving that life is all about its enjoyment – as both Malc Wheeler and I fully understand). Eventually, he sold the machine to Steve Kempster, who successfully paraded it. After receiving an insurance pay-out for life-changing injuries suffered in a motorcycle road accident, I was determined to recall those early days as Derek Chatterton’s ‘gofer’ and began my hunt for a good Honda CR93. There are very few on the market. After a couple of ‘red herrings’ (one gentleman wanted me to travel to Germany with cash in the car to pick one up unseen, making me think of several reasons not to, including Fletcher’s excuse in the TV programme ‘Porridge’ of: “What, with these feet?”); I heard that one was going to be for sale. I contacted the vendor, who had purchased it from Mr Kempster. Eventually, it was obtained, my son and I having seen it successfully paraded at Cholmondeley. It came with a host of spares but with the asking price considerably more than £250! It is the very same ex-jim Curry 190cc machine with the history as above. Jim, when researching his book, called in and looked the bike over. He commented that the original carburettors should replace the over-size ones and this has now been done. He now calls me a ‘lucky person’ or words to that effect.
My thanks to all who have helped in my search and particularly to Jim Curry for allowing me to quote from his book ‘A Lap of my Life’.