The sunny side of the clas­sic world, with the VJMC’S Steve Cooper

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - NEWS -

How au­then­tic do you want your Ja­panese clas­sic? What is it that en­hances its ap­peal? I only ask as, fol­low­ing two record-break­ing auc­tion sales, I’m be­gin­ning to feel a lit­tle con­flicted as to what makes a clas­sic su­per-de­sir­able ver­sus what de­tracts from its ap­peal. Re­cently a pre-pro­duc­tion Honda CB750/4 sold for £140,000 plus com­mis­sion, tak­ing the bike to some £161,000 which is a lot of dosh by any­one’s stan­dards. The bike looked a tad care­worn, the candy paint had faded some­what and it was hardly in its first flush of youth yet more than one would-be buyer saw be­yond the ‘patina’ and de­cided that, for them at least, beauty was in the eye of the be­holder etc. We’ll not get into the sor­did round of dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing value, worth or cost. How­ever, just let’s re­mem­ber that if this was only an early, post­sand­cast, 1969 K0 (yes I know there isn’t re­ally a K0) in sim­i­lar con­di­tion be­ing sold against a 100-point-per­fect resto it would have been an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent story. Sud­denly decades-old patina would have been to­tally out-trumped by glitzy paint and fresh paint. At the same sale a Honda Z50A Mon­key bike that once be­longed to John Len­non sold for £57,000. If you com­pare the rar­ity of that pre-pro­duc­tion CB750/4 against the Z50A how do the maths stack up? Is the ground-break­ing four ‘only’ worth al­most three times more than the yard bike once owned by a Bea­tle? Does celebrity own­er­ship re­ally add so much value to a mass-pro­duced item? Per­son­ally I doubt some­one would pay huge sums for a lawn mower owned by the same mop-top. All of which kind of ar­gues that buy­ing motorcycles as in­vest­ments and po­ten­tial top-ups to your pen­sion pot could be some­thing of a fi­nan­cial roller-coaster. No one can pre­dict the fu­ture and few of us are ever go­ing to be able to ob­tain ma­chines like these here that have an overt his­tory or prove­nance. Buy­ing a bike as an in­vest­ment is prob­a­bly only a short-term game at best. Buy early frame num­bered Z1s and yes, they are likely to go up… for a while. But, if we ac­cept that most of their ap­peal is to the peo­ple who owned them back in the day or wanted to at some point, that de­mo­graphic is go­ing be too old to ride bikes of that mass and phys­i­cal size. Yes, a few will in­evitably have them as in­door or­na­ments but surely there’s go­ing to be a glut at some point? Per­haps, just per­haps, it’s bet­ter to en­joy the bikes we have and can af­ford rather than beat our­selves up over stuff we can’t?

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