This is an original pre-production example of the Kawasaki Ninja 900, also known as the Kawasaki GPZ900R, It was the first to carry “Ninja” branding in the USA and it would rise to fame as Tom Cruise’s motorcycle in the 1986 film Top Gun.
This pre-production Kawasaki Ninja 900 is one of a kind, it was owned by a former Kawasaki executive and it’s been a display bike for almost 40 years, having been shown at the Guggenheim Museum of New York in 1998 “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit and a number of other museums over the years.
Fast Facts – The Kawasaki Ninja 900
- The Kawasaki Ninja 900 would be the first to carry Ninja badging in the USA and many other world markets – a badge that would go on to become Kawaski’s most famous by some margin.
- The use of a Ninja 900, also known as the Kawasaki GPZ900R, in the 1986 film “Top Gun” saw its fame explode internationally, making it the must-have superbike for many.
- The Hollywood credentials of the Ninja 900 tend to overshadow its other achievements – at the time of its release it was the fastest production motorcycle in the world, the first liquid-cooled inline-four with 16 valves, and it was the first production bike to exceed 150 mph.
- The Ninja 900 you see here is an early pre-production model with just 5.8 miles on the odometer. It’s been displayed at the Guggenheim in both New York and Bilbao, and it was first owned by a senior Kawasaki executive.
The Fastest Motorcycle In The World
When it was first released in 1984 the Kawasaki Ninja 900 was the quickest production motorcycle on earth, capable of 151 mph or 243 km/h, this also made it the first production bike to surpass the 150 mph barrier.
The secret to the speed of the Ninja 900 was the slew of engineering advancements that Kawasaki had rolled into it as their next generation superbike. The transversely-mounted inline-four cylinder engine was liquid-cooled, it had double overhead cams and four valves per cylinder giving it 115 bhp at 9,500 rpm and 63 lb ft of torque at 8,500 rpm.
A new frame had been developed that used the engine as a stressed member, eliminating the front down tubes in their process and reducing weight while increasing rigidity. The time was so quick that Kawasaki dealers entered three bikes in the Isle of Man Production TT and took both first and second place on their first try.
The Ninja 900 would be the bike that would establish the legend around the Ninja name that carries on to this day.
Tom Cruise + Top Gun
Filming for Top Gun started in June of 1985, just a year after the release of the Kawasaki Ninja 900 and enough time for the bike to have established itself as king of the hill in countless period magazine reviews.
It made a lot of sense that a top fighter pilot would probably choose the fastest and most advanced motorcycle he could find, and so the 900 was chosen for Tom Cruise to ride in the film – in more than one memorable scene.
The extraordinary box office success of Top Gun helped establish the Kawasaki as the coolest motorcycle of the time, and perhaps even the coolest of the 1980s, a reputation it still enjoys to this day.
When producers were seeking a modern superbike to use in Top Gun: Maverick they chose the supercharged Kawasaki Ninja H2 Carbon, a modern descendent of the original.
The Pre-Production Kawasaki Ninja 900 Shown Here
With just 5.8 miles on the odometer, this may very well be the lowest mileage Kawasaki Ninja 900 in the world – amazingly it was mostly accumulated while being rolled into and out of exhibitions over the past 40+ years.
This Ninja originally belonged to senior Kawasaki executive John Hoover, it’s a rare pre-production example that is listed as having never been dealer serviced, and presenting as it did in 1984 when it was first delivered from the factory in Japan.
It’s been displayed at numerous world class venues including the the Guggenheim Museum of New York in the 1998 “The Art of the Motorcycle” exhibit, it was then later displayed at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain.
It now comes with its original brochures, museum books, and some miscellaneous spare parts are included. If you’d like to read more about this bike or register to bid you can visit the listing here, it’s due to roll across the auction block with Mecum in late January.
Images courtesy of Mecum
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