Sold for $148,100, one of four pre-production 1969 Honda CB750s.
Somebody just paid $148,100 for a 1969 Honda CB750. Honda CB750 fanatics know that the first 7,414 1969 CB750s featured sand-cast cases. The Holy Grail of Hondas, the sand-cast CB750s have for years commanded a premium over the later die-cast CB750s. But $148,100? The incredible price starts coming into focus when you learn that Honda built four pre-production CB750s in 1968, shipping them over to the U.S. to show to dealers and help promote the new model. The CB750 that just sold on eBay was one of those four bikes.
The bike was sold by Vic World, known by some as “Mr. CB750” and the acknowledged expert on sand-cast and early production Hondas. Early auction watchers questioned the bike’s provenance, but as they learned of Vic’s intense knowledge and involvement in the brand from auction watchers like former Motorcyclist editor-in-chief Mitch Boehm, those concerns vanished as vintage motorcycle collectors watched in amazement as the bike went from its opening bid of $1,969 (nice touch) to finally sell at a staggering $148,100 seven days and 102 bids later. At that price it’s entirely possible there’s institutional money behind the purchase, either from Honda itself or an organization like the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. That said, sand-cast CB750 prices have been on the rise, and Vic World claims he sold an early (below frame no. 20) sand-cast to a private collector for $75,000 a few years ago.
Whatever the case, there doesn’t appear to be much question but that the bike in question is one of the four pre-production CB750s shipped to the U.S. in 1968. Of the four, one (Candy Red) went to the crusher in Iowa years ago, another (Candy Gold) went to Europe where it was disassembled and sits, and a third (Candy Green) disappeared, leaving this (Candy Blue/Green) as the only known complete and running survivor. Significant differences from production models abound and include things such as:
• One-off sand-cast engine covers, featuring an external “double step” on the alternator cover
• A wedge-shaped transmission cover, fitting under the Alternator cover
• Very unusual clutch and valve covers (both appearing nothing like the street bike counterparts and very rough cast)
• A one of a kind billet crankshaft
• Chrome fenders showing (under the chrome plating) engineer’s scribe marks to mark off where holes should be drilled
• Hand-hammered/welded exhaust pipes
• One-off special cast by Keihin 26mm carb assemblies
• Handmade white plastic parts throughout the motorcycle (production street version bikes have all black pieces)
• Longer rear fender with brazed on turn signal stems
• A 43-tooth rear sprocket (versus 45 for production)
• No handlebar kill switch
• No provision for a tool tray under the seat
• Sand-cast “hollow” fuel tank emblems
• Cast gas cap and latch
The bike has a few “incorrect” parts including replacement no. 1 and no. 2 exhaust pipes, but was otherwise claimed original with only 5,256 miles showing on the odometer. With any luck, the rest of us will someday get to see this important Honda, the only known survivor of the original four pre-production 1968 bikes. – Richard Backus
The cover of the April 1969 issue of Motorcyclist featured the same pre-production CB750 that just sold for $148,100.
Unique 26mm Keihin carbs; production bikes used 28mm units.
Pre-production CB750 cam covers feature very rough casting finish.