Of the 10 most expensive vehicles ever sold on eBay, only one is a motorcycle: a 2005 Harley-Davidson Road King that was put up for auction by Jay Leno to benefit victims of the 2004 tsunami. There was nothing rare about the bike itself unless you count the fact that it was a fixture on the Tonight Show where it was autographed by dozens of famous guests. It sold for $800,100.
Vic World’s 1969 Honda CB750, by contrast, is a far more significant motorcycle that played a key role in the evolution of Team Red’s sportbikes. Not only is it a verified one-of-four pre-production prototype of the iconic CB750, but this is also the actual bike that was photographed for the April 1969 cover of Motorcyclist magazine to give riders and readers of the day their First Look at Honda’s “King of Motorcycles.” The current owner of the prototype, Vic World, appeared in a 2004 issue of Motorcyclist and later in a 2008 issue of Motorcyclist Retro that gave readers an inside look at Vic’s shop in San Francisco, World Motorcycles, where he specializes in all things CB750. Considering that this bike was entirely hand-built by Honda engineers in 1968 before being shipped to America for the model’s dealer show unveiling in Las Vegas, and then “cleaned up” to its pristine, original condition with only 5,256 miles on the odometer, it’s not surprising that the auction has attracted 90 bidders so far, and a current high bid of $130,300 as of this writing. And Vic assured us that the bike will sell. The reserve has been lifted.
The following information was provided by the owner:
Many know the story of how Mr. Soichiro Honda started a four-cylinder revolution back in 1969 with his “King of Motorcycles.” It was the bike that changed motorcycling. The new CB750 featured a transverse in-line four-cylinder 736cc engine, that produced 67 horsepower with a top speed of 125 mph. It came equipped with an electric starter and a disc brake. The first 7,000 or so units that came off the factory assembly line in Japan back in 1969 had engine cases that were cast in sand. Those early sandcast CB750s now command premium prices.
What few aficionados know is that before the rare sandcast CB750s were produced in 1969, Honda determined that they first needed to build a set of pre-production prototypes to market their “King of Motorcycles” to the American public. So in 1968 they built four samples to unveil at their annual Las Vegas Motorcycle Dealer Show, and to be photographed for promotions, ads and magazines. Honda shipped the four pre-production bikes to America in four different colors: candy red, candy gold, candy green and candy blue-green. These special bikes were all hand-built by Honda technicians using many unique one-off parts.
What happened to the pre-production CB750s? The red bike was sent to the crusher in Iowa back in the early 1990s. The gold bike made its way to Europe only to be completely disassembled by its owner and it has remained in that state for the last 25 years or so. The green bike has never been heard from, thus leaving this blue-green prototype the only one of the four.