The Honda CB750 you see here is one of the original prototypes, with the now hugely collectible sandcast engine. It was nicknamed “The Brighton Bike” and its first owner would be none other than the Earl of Denbigh in England. Within the vintage Honda collecting community, this CB750 is well-known and is typically referred to either by its nickname or by its UK road registration ID – CGU 7H.
The Honda CB750
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the Honda CB750, it was launched in 1969 at the request of Honda dealers in the USA who wanted a larger capacity motorcycle to compete with the likes of Harley-Davidson, Triumph, Norton, Ducati, and BMW with the reliability that Honda motorcycles had earned a reputation for.
The Japanese executives at Honda were initially skeptical of this request, so they built the first series of bikes using sandcasting techniques so as not to outlay too much on tooling for a model they didn’t know would be profitable.
They needn’t have worried, the new Honda CB750 proved exceedingly popular, almost entirely due to its reliable transversely-mounted, inline-4 cylinder engine with a single overhead camshaft, unit construction (the engine and gearbox share a single casing), and 5-speed transmission.
This basic engine architecture would be widely copied by the other three major motorcycle manufacturers in Japan, and before long it was known as the UJM – Universal Japanese Motorcycle. The onslaught of cheap, largely reliable motorcycles from Japan would be the death knell for many motorcycle manufacturers, and the motorcycle industries of Germany, Italy, Britain, and America would suffer greatly.
The 1969 Honda CB750 Sandcast Prototype “The Brighton Bike”
The motorcycle you see here is one of the most desirable examples of the Honda CB750 in existence. It’s one of the four prototypes built by Honda in 1969 and it’s the only one known to still exist – the other three have been missing for decades and no one seems to know what happened to them.
This bike was owned by Honda UK in-period and used as the Dealer Roadshow model for the UK Launch of the CB750. It was ridden by many of the leading motorcycle journalists of the time in the UK, and it formed the basis of the reviews they would give – perhaps the first signals of the collapse of the British motorcycle industry.
The bike became known as “The Brighton Bike” because it was shown at Brighton in 1969, it appears to still be wearing the same gold paint it became known for, and is largely unrestored as can be seen by the wear on the seat, side covers, and fuel tank.
After its time with the Earl of Denbigh it passed into a private collection for decades, and it’s only just now being offered for public sale for the first time. Importantly it’s still showing its correct prototype engine number – CB750E-2110, the production bikes would start with #1000001.
If you’d like to read more about this bike or register to bid you can click here to visit H&H Classic Auctions. It’s due to be sold on the 4th of March with an estimated value of between £35,000 and £40,000, which though not cheap by any measure, is actually quite affordable for a piece of motorcycle history of this calibre.
Images courtesy of H&H