This 1977 Kawasaki KZ400 Deluxe has remained unused in its factory crate for 46 years and counting. It’s now probably the best and most original example of its kind anywhere in the world.
The Kawasaki KZ400 was released in 1974 and touted as a two-wheeled answer to the VW Beetle, it was affordable to buy and economical on fuel – both major drawcards in shadow of the 1973 Oil Crisis.
Fast Facts – Kawasaki KZ400
- The Kawasaki KZ400 was released in 1974 and sold until 1984 when it was replaced with the Kawasaki KZ440 which was closely based on it.
- Kawasaki had designed the KZ400 to be the perfect middleweight motorcycle, with excellent fuel economy, an affordable MSRP, and good reliability.
- Power was provided by an air-cooled parallel twin with two balance shafts, a 360º crank, a single overhead cam, two valves per cylinder. It made 35 bhp and power was sent back through a 5-speed transmission. The bike could achieve 50 mpg if ridden conservatively.
- The Kawasaki KZ400 you see here is a rare Deluxe model, it came with a windshield, Deluxe badging, and a pair of color coded panniers for highway touring. It’s remained in its factory crate since 1977 and it now being offered for sale out of Snohomish, Washington.
“The Two-Wheeled Beetle”
Fuel economy was a top priority for many car buyers in the mid-1970s, but these concerns about gas prices weren’t limited to those on four wheels. Many motorcyclists were seeking cost efficient transportation for daily use – which resulted in one of the most memorable Kawasaki ads of the decade.
In a period advertisement for the Kawasaki KZ400 the company compared the bike to the Volkswagen Beetle, saying:
“Some 20 years ago the idea of thinking small to beat the high cost of transportation turned a lot of heads around. And rightfully so. It was an idea whose time had come. But today even thinking small can cost you plenty (we don’t have to tell you about inflation).”
“Today it’s timely to take thinking small a step further. Now it’s smart to think even smaller. About the size of a Kawasaki motorcycle.”
You can see the ad in full above, it was certainly a good way to get attention and the KZ400 sold well. In many respects it was the perfect motorcycle for the era.
The Kawasaki KZ400
The Kawasaki KZ400 was powered by a daily conventional parallel twin, with a displacement of 399cc and a 360º crankshaft.
It has a single overhead camshaft with two valves per cylinder, and it makes a total of 35 bhp. Power is sent to the rear wheel via a 5-speed transmission and the bike was said to be good for a top speed of almost 100 mph.
Initially the KZ400 was offered in three main variants (shown above), these where the KZ Special which was the base model, the KZ400 Standard which was one step up, and the top of the range KZ Deluxe which came with a windshield, headlight fairing, locking pannier cases on either side, and a luggage rack for touring.
The model range was given a series of updates in 1977 to address some issues around oil leaks and unstable idling that had been faced by some owners. The carburetors were changed and the design of the oil passages was modified.
Prices started at $995 USD, a good deal at the time, and sales were brisk. By the time the KZ400 left production in 1984 it had become one of the more popular motorcycles in the middle weight category and it was replaced by the closely related Kawasaki KZ440.
The Crated 1977 Kawasaki KZ400 Shown Here
The Kawasaki KZ400 Deluxe you see here is possibly the most original example of its kind left anywhere in the world. The listing notes that it’s remained in its factory crate untouched since 1977, and the current owner has had it for over 20 years, having bought it in late 2000.
The bike is finished in Candy Copper with matching pinstripes and it retains the original panniers, rear luggage rack, and headlight fairing/windshield – the latter of which hasn’t been fitted yet.
The bike is now being offered for sale out of Snohomish, Washington on Bring a Trailer. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.