Honda has built an amazing reputation around the world for high quality, super reliable and economical machines. When the "Japanese Invasion" of imports really started flowing into America in the 1970's, it seemed that the quality and designs improved in leaps and bounds. By the 1980's Honda was really making strides, not only in sales within the US, but in innovation and design. In the motorcycle world, perhaps one of the most game changing developments was the introduction of the "sport bike" into the market. Developed from years of racing experience, these streamlined high performance "crotch rockets" that hit our shores in the early 1980's spawned a massive movement with the youth and has continued to be a major slice of the two wheeled pie ever since.
For Honda the springboard machine was the V45 Interceptor. The 750cc futuristic cycle truly set the world on fire. Cycle Guide Magazine gave it the "Silver Bullet" Motorcycle of the Year award in 1983 and in its praise said that "no other motorcycle from any other manufacturer can match the Interceptor in completeness of execution or its impact on the future of motorcycling". The superlatives went on and on throughout the whole world of motorcycles and now looking back at the evolution of bikes over the past 36 years, it is easy to see the importance of this landmark. It changed the world.
A few years back I was out hunting dusty old cars and found myself in a local warehouse dragging out a 50's Ford. The owner also had a bunch of motorcycles and we stared up a wonderful conversation about bikes. It turns out his business was in the motorcycle industry as a parts supplier and as a result had experienced and collected a very wide array of cycles. There were two bikes in the warehouse that simply latched on to my mind and I could not let go. The first was a super low mileage 1st generation Ninja, the second was a partially disassembled Honda V45. As I looked deeper at the Honda and started to hear the story, I realized that I was in the presence of a truly historical pile of parts. I negotiated for the project and loaded it in the truck. The seller said he had the paperwork "somewhere" which normally means it will never be seen again, but fortunately a week later I got a call to come grab the pink slip and license plate. Along with these documents were some more proof of the incredible story...this bike was THE Cycle Guide Bike of the Year.
Honda had a product research department that was in charge of the bikes that the press would see and they would often loan bikes to the magazines for testing and photography. Cycle Guide Magazine chose a few bikes every year that they would put into "long term testing" and would ride them 3000 miles and then report on their findings to the readers. The bike before me was delivered to Cycle Guide in February of 1983 and they put it through the wringer. When the end of the year was approaching, and they had decided to award it with the Bike of the Year award, the magazine purchased it from Honda for a nominal sum and then "chrome plated" and polished the whole bike to make it look like something off the top of a trophy for the annual "Silver Bullet" issue cover shoot. The bike was titled in the name of the magazine and was eventually sold to the fellow that had it when I found it. His connections in the industry put him in the right spot for grabbing a few special bikes and this was one of them. He decided that he didnt want to ride a trophy topper, so he started the process of bringing it back to a more normal looking bike. He stripped and painted the tank and plastics and removed a few parts...the work was never completed and it ended up in the corner of the warehouse for the next 25+ years.
Once back at the Carchaeology Labs, we started the process to bring it back to trophy status and began the polishing process and sourced another V45 Interceptor to use for parts. Sadly it is a project that has stalled out here as well and it is currently on the dusty bike lift with work half done and slowly but surely it has fallen farther down the priority list. I think it is time to set it free and let the next guy or gal return it to glory.
The frame and many parts we chrome plated, and those are all polishing up nicely. The aluminum rims were polished to a bright shine and those too are coming back fine. The plastic parts and the tank were all painted after the chroming and they will need refinishing to a chrome-like shine again. We experimented with different sprays but none of them have the right reflection to them, but there are professionals out there that can apply the process to make it look just like chrome again. The parts bike has been invaluable in sourcing several bits that were missing such as the carburetors and exhaust, other than that, there are basically duplicates of everything. More than enough parts to put the bike back together and a ton of stuff to resell or repurpose when you are done.
Some time back I spoke with the folks at Bonhams auctions about the potential of auctioning it off when done and they were very enthusiastic about it. Interest in the 80's era is white hot these days and is one of the sectors of collectible cars and bikes that is seeing a massive rise in price. This bike being such an iconic make and model and having such amazing history puts it into a class of its own. Id love to see it through and see the bike end up in a museum or world class collection. I hope that is where it ends up and I hope the next owner can finish the revitalization back to its original glory in a more timely manner than we have been here. This is truly "history on wheels" and it must be saved and celebrated.
If you are interested in being the next caretaker...email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can try to work something out.