The Colin Seeley-built Honda CB750 Phil Read Factory Replica is a very rare motorcycle, approximately 150 were made and they have the distinction of being the first fully faired race replica available to buy off the showroom floor from a Japanese marque.
The motorcycle frames developed by Colin Seeley in the 1960s and onwards were so revolutionary that they had an enduring global impact on motorcycle engineering – an impact that continues to the current day. Colin grew up in a motorcycle family, his father owned a Vincent Rapide and they would both travel to the nearby race track Brands Hatch to watch the races.
Seeley started his working life as an apprentice at Harcourt Motorcycles, where he became acquainted with Bernie Ecclestone who ran a used motorcycle dealership nearby. Over the course of his young career he also worked as a mechanic at a driving school – where he tried driving a car for the first time. Colin spent much of his free time in his parents shed working on his own projects, and learning the fundamentals of motorcycle design and engineering.
He started racing in 1954, and over the course of his competition career he would race in endurance road events, off road enduro and scrambles races, and road-based sidecar racing – this latter form of motorsport would capture his heart, and it would be the one in which he would win the most accolades.
Upon retiring from competition at the end of the 1967 season, Seeley turned his attention to manufacturing frames and complete motorcycles for racing. Although he had no formal engineering training, he had an intuitive ability to bend and weld Reynolds 531 tubing into remarkably rigid frames. Though he started out building frames for British motorcycles he began a shift towards Japanese engines by the early 1970s.
The Seeley Honda CB750 Phil Read Factory Replica
The bike you see here is a rare bird, it was commissioned by Honda to celebrate Phil Read’s 1977 Isle of Man TT victory in 1977 aboard an 820cc version of the Honda CB750 F2. The F2 had been released a year earlier in 1976 as an upgrade over the original CB750. It had a new head with larger valves, a hotter cam shaft, and 28mm Keihin carburetors with accelerator pumps – this boosted power slightly to 70 hp at 9500 rpm.
In order to celebrate their Isle of Man TT victory Honda decided to have a series of race replicas built, so they commissioned Colin Seeley’s legendary company to convert otherwise stock CB 750 F2s into official Phil Read Replicas.
Seeley’s team fitted a double beam full fairing with Cibie headlights, a hand-formed 5 gallon alloy fuel tank, racing-style rear sets, a new single seat and rear cowl, a custom high-performance exhaust, and it was all finished off in the same red/white/blue color scheme used by the Honda Britain Racing Team.
Only 150 or so bikes were built before a disagreement between Phil Read and Honda killed the project. Colin Seeley remained undeterred, and slightly redesigned the model, then continued selling it as the Honda Britain, with Honda selling them as the CB750SS.
It’s thought that less than 40 original Honda CB750 Phil Read Replicas have survived, and this is one of them. Amazingly it has 0 miles on the odometer and it’s claimed that it’s never been started – making it almost certainly the most original example in existence.
If you’d like to add it to your collection it’ll be up for auction with Mecum between the 23rd and 27th of January in Las Vegas, you can click here to read more or register to bid.
Images Courtesy of Mecum
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