The Wankel-rotary-powered Van Veen is just as wild today as it was when it debuted in the 1970s.
Van Veen OCR 1000 Rotary
Engine: Transverse-mounted twin-rotor Wankel rotary with wet sump oil-cooled rotors and water-cooled casing, 2 x 498cc swept volume trochoidal chambers, 996cc, 9:1 compression ratio, 100.4hp at 6,500 rpm (at rear wheel)
Top speed: 135mph (claimed)
Carburetion: 32mm Solex with accelerator pump and automatic choke
Transmission: 4-speed, shaft final drive
Electrics: 12v, electronic ignition
Frame/wheelbase: Dual downtube steel cradle/61in (1,550mm)
Suspension: 42mm telescopic fork front, twin shocks w/adjustable preload and damping rear
Brakes: Dual 11in (280mm) Brembo discs front, single 11in (280mm) Brembo disc rear
Tires: 110/90 x 18in front, 130/80 x 18in rear
Weight (dry): 642lb (292kg)
Seat height: 33.5in (850mm)
Fuel capacity: 6.35gal (24ltr)
Price: €85,000 ($100,000)
A quarter of a century ago, rotary-engined motorcycles seemed set to be the next big thing.
In 1992, the Norton RC588 scored a Wankel-engined bike’s greatest victory by winning the Senior TT in the Isle of Man in the hands of the late Steve Hislop at a then-record speed of 121.38mph, after a thrilling battle with future four-time World Superbike champion Carl Fogarty’s Yamaha. Coupled with the Duckhams Norton team’s domination of the 1994 British Superbike championship, with riders Ian Simpson and Phil Borley finishing 1-2 in the points table, Norton might have expected to benefit from this win with a spike in demand for its F1 Sport race replica street bike — but the indebted British company was sliding towards insolvency, and production of the last Wankel-engined motorcycle money could buy ended. Until now.
OCR Motors owner Andries Wielinga is bringing the past to life again by building the OCR 1000. In the 1970s, Dutch two-wheeled tycoon Hendrik “Henk” Van Veen produced what was then the most high-performance (and most expensive) series-production street bike money could buy, powered by the same 100-horsepower twin-rotor engine used in the NSU Ro80, the world’s first production rotary-engined car. Van Veen sold 38 examples of the original OCR 1000 at a retail price equivalent to €40,000 today (about $47,000) before the company closed down in 1981. The bike was in every way symptomatic of the age of excess — which makes Wielinga’s decision to build 10 exact replicas of the late-1970s production Van Veen OCR Rotary retailing at €85,000 ($100,000) either a very brave or a very foolish decision, depending on which way you look at it!