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Everyone likes a bargain. Stories of Vincent twins pulled from barns or unearthed Indian Fours are common entertainment for some, but not those who realize there’s still smart deals to be made. Predicting the next hot classic isn’t an easy thing to do, but never forget the importance of name recognition. Each of these machines were recent purchases at the Las Vegas winter auctions where they were tagged as being on the upswing. The list can change often but once classic, always classic.
Kick start only, three Mikuni 28mm carbs feed an engine capable of producing one-horsepower for every eleven pounds of motorcycle. The double cradle frame with twin reinforced top tubes wasn’t strong enough to control the engine’s prodigious peak, and the 180mm drums were quickly regarded as dated. Later versions used a single 296mm disc for the front
Too few US enthusiasts understand what was accomplished with Peter Williams’ F750 victory at IOM in 1973, but credit that glory and the catchy John Player motif for the distinctive JPS replica of 1974. Boldly racer-like with its streamlined, twin-headlight nose, a matching one-piece tank/seat cover was dropped over the standard MK II Commando 850. Clip-ons
to scrub speeds approaching 120-mph were possible. Sold in good number (especially early) many H1s were abused and scrapped but an increasing number of ‘original’ survivors (most being modified machines returned to stock specs) are showing up. Not long ago a decent H1 could be had for $4500. This one sold at Las Vegas in 2014 for $8000, including premiums. That’s nearly double.
With a claimed 87-horsepower at 8,250rpm the DOHC GS1000 was among the best sporting motorcycles available. Tipping the scales at 440-lb dry the SB3 shattered normal standards of speed and ability, yet well controlled with top components from Marzocchi and Brembo. The hammer price of $16,250 (including premium) may strike some as high, but not when compared against period hi-po rivals like the Kawasaki Z1, Ducati 750 Super Sport or Bimota’s own moneybag SB2, perhaps the ultimate exotic. But the Suzuki/Bimota 1000 is a better motorcycle that can be had for less. How much less for how long? That’s the question.
Hot list: Three Classics to Watch
Kawasaki 500cc Mach III
The link to Kawasaki’s legendary 750cc Mach IV and four-stroke Z1 isn’t the only reason the smaller 500 is gaining ground as a collectible. The 250/350cc Mach I and II triples are also highly desirable; each credited for helping Kawasaki’s establish its role as a performance leader. Heritage and lore surround the Mach III, and as those campfire stories grow in smoky uncontrolled fury, so does the air-cooled triple’s value.
and rear sets gave the required racer pose, but that JPS style wasn’t always worth the extra bother in everyday riding conditions. Availability lasted only one-year. Bonhams believes between 200 and 300 JPS Commandos were made, with 120 coming to US soil. $16.000 for an original JPS Commando with less than 10.000 miles strikes as a figure soon to be surpassed, given the model’s historical presence and style. Long dormant in collectible circles, the JPS is moving up. Nolan Woodbury.
Norton Commando John Player Replica Gaining steam and with no ceiling in sight, factory performance parallel twins from BSA, Triumph, Norton and Royal Enfield have become true investment purchases. We've seen a healthy jump in what buyers are willing to pay for solid Featherbed/Atlas-spec twin, not counting works-spec models such as the Commando Production Racer and certainly not the firm’s highly respected works singles. That’s important to know, because for many years Triumph’s popularity in the USA caused a soft market for the otherwise respected Norton brand, with clean 750 Commandos selling for half the price of a tidy twin-carb 650 Bonneville. The Triumph still holds an edge, but the gap has closed.
Bimota SB3 Instantly recognized as high-end Italian exotica, Bimota caters to the owner willing to pay for uncompromising speed using the era’s best engines. Fitted with Suzuki’s 8v GS1000 DOHC four the SB3 was a more powerful, less flashy version of the 750cc Suzuki SB2 released in 1977. According to book author Giorgio Sarti, Bimota’s decision to tone down the program saw the company forsake its traditional red and white (shown) for a more subtle light gray. More than that, the SB3 marked Bimota’s progress as a producer, even though 75% of the SB3s manufactured were kits. Those sixty-odd factory built machines will command the highest dollars, but trusted documentation is a tricky business for sure.