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MC Dispatch

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Found: 1979 Yamaha RD400F – Brand New and Still in its Crate!

by Scott Lees

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 RD400F in crate - web
Yamaha heaven: Hiding inside this never-opened crate is a brand new 1979 Yamaha RD400F 

If you thought the 11 brand new Norton Commandos we told you about unearthed in Belgium were cool, you need to check out this story. Instead of a cache of Nortons, Motorcycle Classics reader Scott Lees stumbled across a brand new, still in the never-opened crate 1979 Yamaha RD400F, the last year for this collectible 2-stroke classic.  

Scott found the bike at Britt Motorsports in Wilmington, N.C., resting just inside the front door of the motorcycle dealership, pushed up against a wall and being used as a table to hold racing trophies. A reading couch sits in front of it, all but obscuring it from view. It’s not for sale, and we’re told it never will be. That it exists at all is delightful, that it’s never even had its straps cut is incredible. Maybe someday it will be uncrated and set up on display. Until that day, we can all daydream about the opportunity to find a treasure like this of our own. Scott Lees writes:

RD400F behind couch - web
Here's where the RD normally sits, barely visibly behind a couch in the showroom at Britt Motorsports in Wilmington, N.C. 

Not For Sale at Any PriceIf it can be said that two large buildings, one each on either side of a main thoroughfare, are “tucked away,” then tucked away on the outskirts of Wilmington, N.C., are the shops of Britt Motorsports. To the right, the smaller of the two buildings houses the metric cruiser and metric custom side of the company, while the shop to the left displays myriad offerings from most of the Japanese manufacturers, including as my first sight on entry the Rossi R1 replica.

Also on display are a pair of old Yamaha two-strokes in passable street-ready condition, though one is clearly more passable than the other. As explorations continue, my eye notices an old Yamaha shipping crate, nestled in behind a couch and topped with an impressive collection of trophies. My examination reveals the banding has never been cut off; this crate still protects its original cargo, never yet revealed to light of day or human eye. Ah-hah … this requires detailed investigation!

1970 Yamaha DS6 250
Keeping the RD company is this 1970 Yamaha DS6 250. A 1975 RD250 is also on the showroom floor. 

By now, I’ve attracted one of the store’s very attentive salesmen, and as the conversation builds the history of this virgin crate begins to unfold. Mr. Scott Britt, the proprietor, is the son of a long-ago-retired Yamaha dealer who’d had this crate among the items in his inventory. Unsold when new, the crate languished in the proverbial corner until the store, and its inventory, were sold. Although the fate of our treasure becomes less clear at this point, the crate turned up years later in an auction. An old friend/associate of the senior Mr. Britt was in attendance, recognized the crate, purchased it in the auction, and promptly delivered it back to its rightful ‘home.’

RD400F in crate close up
Close up of the RD400F's crate. Does anyone know what color "NPW" is? 

Offered compensation, the gentleman refused, wanting only the satisfaction of returning the crate to his old friend’s son. Over the years the son built quite an enterprise; judging from the posters on the walls he has earned a national reputation in the metric custom business. But, he never lost his love for the bikes that started it all, as his in-store collection illustrates. None of the collection is for sale, apparently, and The Crate most especially is not for sale, not under any circumstance, and not at any price. Indeed, blank check offers have been politely declined.

Britts Motorsports
Britts Motorsports in Wilmington, N.C., home to the crated RD400F. 

From what other business could this tale be told? A long lost crate of widgets does not stir the soul, and would not an untouched 1967 Corvette 427 Tri-Power be off to the very next auction? But no, this spindly little Yamaha RD400F, still in its box, never seen, is not just a motorcycle; it is family, it is youth, it is freedom and discovery. It is a tribute to friends, past and present, and indeed to friends as yet unmet. And for all that, it is even more.

And, as the man says, it is Not For Sale … Not At Any Price. – Scott Lees 




8/17/2016 4:53:46 PM

By the way NPW is New Pearl White in case no one has checked.

12/14/2012 5:26:58 PM

Now there's some revisionist history....

joey antonik
12/14/2012 5:23:28 PM

$21,000? I'very seen a couple of late 70s Yam 400s like this in near-new condition selling for three grand.

sunset beach
12/13/2012 6:45:41 PM

sure hope there's a bike in that box! and sure hope they take it out of the box...these beauties are not G.I. Joes that get placed on a shelf. Let's all have a look at one of the most beautiful bikes ever run off a production line.

12/13/2012 5:47:14 PM

Just another piece of Jap junk. The jap motorcycle companies took advantage of motorcycle dealers to fund the american money back to Japan and the american companies carried a loss paying no taxes in the U.S.

craig ovadia
12/9/2012 4:32:03 AM

Todd, where are you going to find a RD400 in orginal condition for $1000? They seem to be over $2500 for a molested one.

7/1/2010 6:19:48 AM

What is the point of getting excited over a box? For all we know there is nothing in the box. I would find the item unpacked with 0 miles showing on the clock far more exciting to view. I wonder how it went through auction without the boxes contents being examined. Would you bid good money on an unopened box just because you were told it contained something valuable?

6/28/2010 7:52:17 AM

It doesn't matter what it is -- anything in an unopened and unopenable box might as well not exist. The fact that it is a vehicle makes even less sense. Vehicles are tools made to be used, and an unused tool is a tragedy. The Japanese manufacturers dominated motorcycle markets for decades because they mass produced affordable motorcycles that were reliable and a pleasure to ride. Those last two words are the key to understanding the point I'm trying to make. Since when is everything over twenty years old now a priceless museum piece or a work of art? I would like to suggest that this is an absurd cultural sickness; some kind of collection-mania. Does every older guy/gal who has managed to accumulate money now want to establish his/her own personal museum? Or are these alternative churches filled with two-wheeled variants of biblical idols and golden cows? It is all about riding, folks. That's why they have wheels on 'em.

h-2 charlie
6/28/2010 12:58:52 AM

My friend who owned a suzuki shop from 1968 til the mid 80s had a RE-5 new in the crate un till his brother came and got it ,sold it ..SUZUKI ON NORTH AMERICA CALLED HIM TO SEE ABOUT IT KNOW IT WAS NEVER TAGED ABOUT 14 YEARS AGO AND OFFERED HIM $60,000 FOR IT IF HE STILL HAD IT ..HE TELLS ME THE STORY OFTEN .

tom quinn
6/25/2010 9:17:56 PM

"spindly" does not describe the RD 400. Compared to what....a Hummer? The RD 400 in my opinion (I am 59 years old and nearly bought a new red stripe on white RD) which non-purchase I still regret to this day along with the XR 1200 Sportster that I could have got for $2500 and the Eddie Lawson Replica Kawi that I could have got for $3000...and etc. The Yami was just an honest and solid motorcycle with the most winningest 2 stroke engine in the history of the sport (based as it was on the 250) and a sanitary chassis and solid handling. Just a great bike period. But don't you ever call it spindly. Call it lean and mean.

tyssen becker
6/25/2010 8:23:47 AM

Now that the word is out, I hope they have a good alarm system in that dealership!

6/24/2010 7:14:03 PM

last I knew, Maxey's Honda in OKC has a White Dream 300 in the crate as well, you probably could buy it. but at "PRICE" you probably would not care to hear!

6/24/2010 2:37:28 PM

This is pretty cool if you're a 2-stroke fan. I owned a '73 RD 350 that I let go with an '85 RZ 10 years ago. This past spring I found my RZ with only 2k additional on the odo...and in otherwise unmolested condition. I made a deal with the owner and "Bumble Bee" is now back home!

6/24/2010 2:05:46 PM

wouldn't you rather find an excellent condition, low mileage runner on sale for less than $1,000? -todd

6/24/2010 11:20:14 AM

NPW = New Pearl White