Two historically significant Honda motorcycles from the late 1960s went under the hammer for a combined £218,500 in an auction at Solihull’s National Motorcycle Museum last weekend, busting their pre-sale estimates.
Much of the pre-auction talk focussed on the 1969 Honda Z50A Monkey Bike previously owned by legendary musician John Lennon. The mini bike was owned by The Beatles’ guitarist, vocalist and songwriter between 1969 and 1971, and was used to have fun in the grounds of his Tittenhurst Park estate in Surrey. H&H Classics, the company that arranged the auction, had estimated that the bike would sell for more than £30,000 but bidding finally finished at £57,500 – a remarkable amount for a bike that Lennon sold for £250 (approximately £2500 when adjusted for inflation) in 1971.
Joining the Lennon machine was one of only two pre-production Honda CB750s known still to exist.
Early prototypes are usually crushed or kept under lock and key in company museums once they have served their purposes as test mules, however four production representative CB750s were known to have hand built and sent around the world for promotional purposes.
Of the four bikes, a green version that went to France went missing, while a red example was known to have been crushed in the United States five years ago. The only other known pre-production bike sold on eBay for $148,000 in 2014.
This particular gold example arrived in the UK in early 1969 and was registered by Honda UK to be used for promotional purposes, being showcased at the Brighton Motorcycle Show that April and appearing on the cover of Motorcycle Mechanics magazine the following month. The previous owner was in the process of restoring the bike, but sadly passed away before completing the project. The hand built prototype eventually sold, after intense bidding, for £161,000 – a record for a CB750.
Head of Motorcycle Sales at H&H Classics, Mark Bryan, was delighted by the outcome of the auction, stating: “This is one of the most historically important bikes we’ve had the pleasure to offer for sale. Referred to on its launch as the most sophisticated production bike ever. The standard bike at launch was capable of 120 mph and was equipped with non-fade front hydraulic brakes. The bike has gone onto become a true icon rated as one of the top landmarks of Japanese automotive technology”
While we’re unlikely to see another pre-production CB750 go under the hammer any time soon, there are several examples of the iconic Seventies superbike listed for next month’s Bonhams spring auction, which takes place alongside the 38th Carole Nash International Classic MotorCycle Show at the Stafford County Showground on April 22.