For the most part, collector vehicles rise above the fray for logical reasons: the one-year-only, beautiful body style; the hottest engine with the most robust gearbox; the most comfortable seats with the flirtiest flares. However, certain vehicles defy this logic, emerging as particularly valuable based on a superfluous or even an impractical feature.
A pristine 1962 Jaguar E-Type flat-floor roadster, for example, is worth $100K more than a pristine 1962 E-Type roadster without flat floors. The latter is more comfortable to drive, but the improved ergonomics don't sway collectors. The same phenomenon holds true in the motorcycle world: A pristine 1969 Honda CB750 with a sandcast engine—such as this example for sale on eBay—is worth $25K more than a 1969 Honda CB750 with a die-cast engine. Is the sandcast bike better to ride? No. Does it look different? Not really. Is it rare? Kind of.
Read the full article on Hagerty.com: https://www.hagerty.com/media/motorcycles/why-do-collectors-pay-double-for-a-honda-cb750-engine-cast...
I've never cared personally, only checking engines on CB750's I'm considering because they are worth money to others. I love the original CB750s and have chopped enough of them that when I walk up to one they sometimes piddle oil in fear, but for those who want the earliest of something, or an exclusive feature, I understand. Some people like the connection that Honda was unsure if they could even break even and here it turned into a bike that changed everything.
"...so let’s estimate that roughly 0.75 percent of sandcasts remain"
Not to nitpick (well, OK, to nitpick 🙂 0.75% of 7414 would be fewer than 56 bikes, so kinda rare. Now, 75% of 7414 would be 5560 bikes....
I understand the thought process of what you have written in the article. However, from a different perspective, having worked for Honda myself for several years, I (as well as many of my fellow mechanics) were EXTREMLY happy when Honda upgraded to their DOHC engine. The SOHC had so many downfalls. Just saying 🙂
I recall seeing an early CB750 in 1969, and I really wanted one (12-year-olds are like that). But that sort of "gotta have it" is like the Holland tulip mania in the 1600s that made so many wealthy people into paupers when the market crashed.
Still, I guess if you gotta have it, you gotta have it. I owned a Plymouth Superbird when I was 18, and if I had the money today, I'd buy that exact same car again -- it's still out there with a relatively fresh but incorrect restoration that made it slightly better than original.
If I had $100K, or a million tulip bulbs ....
I have a 1975 norton commando, only year with starter motor(more like a starter assist!) and discs brake front and back, front disc on 75's on left, previously on right. But 75's aren't getting that much more love. The XKE is a better case in point. Flat floors, but also 3.8L is a more "revy" engine then the 4.2L!!! A college kid of limited means at the time (bartender, summer painter, linesman at private airport and sporting goods store all in the same year), bought a 1970 FHC in 1974 because no one wanted a "used jaguar" and they were reasonably affordable, before repairs anyway. Bought the 70 XKE coupe, but I wanted a series 1 OTS (open two seat, a.k.a convertible!) but they were mostly clapped out and rusted by 1974. My 1970 was pristine, so it was more practical, if buying a jag was ever practical! Car buffs still come up and tell me to this day "XKE was the most beautiful car made.... Coupe is more beautiful than the roadster!"Three restorations later, still have the 1970 XKE FHC, but it's worth about $70,000 less than a series 1 XKE OTS! If I knew now, what I didn't know then......!!!!
The Honda valuation is driven by nostalgia (saw them new, couldn't afford one), and perceived investment potential. Everyone has heard of the CB750 and the supposed rarity of the sand casts. Plus, the first couple of prototypes have achieved truly stupendous results, further attracting the "rising tide raising all boats" crowd
It so happens I restore and collect 60-70's Spanish Bultaco motorcycles. They never made 7414 of any model, most were built in the hundreds. They have tremendous competition records; over the years Bultaco dominated all forms of motorcycle racing, winning many world championships. My point is these have far more impressive provenance than mass produced Hondas, yet a world class Bultaco Metralla might bring $10,000 if you're lucky. Sometimes, there is just no accounting for taste.
There were 2 fellows at Namao Air Base in Alberta that bought the first 2 CB750s available and would tease the military police at the guard shack by doing burnouts until the MPs would hop in their crusty 63 impala wagon MP car and give chase ! Lol , they were never apprehended (But I know who you are , Dennis H. Lol) ....all in good fun , damn I miss the old days .
Indeed Honda was unsure of the success they would have; hence sandcasting. Rarity further defined by numerous ones blowing chains and cracking cases. Some replacement cases were diecast units. They also became fodder for drag bikes as well as choppers. I have found two with 2 digit serial numbers. Both were choppers. Fortunately just bolt on choppers.
Actually, the bike(s) that "...started the superbike revolution..." were the BSA Rocket3/Triumph Trident, and were hailed as such by the motorcycling press at the time. Unfortunately for the British triples, the Honda CB750 came out within weeks, and it's lower purchase price included electric start, overhead cam, five speeds, and a front disc brake to go along with that extra cylinder. Not to mention the already well-established dealer network and service support, and well-earned reputation for reliability and quality. And, British labor problems often meant bikes were not available to purchase at any price. Not so with Honda....
(Though with all the advances the CB750 offered, the British triples were quicker and handled and stopped better, largely due to lower weight....)
The early CB750's had carburetors as pictured above. The later ones had CV carbs.
I went to the Honda factory CB750 school, and was a certified tech. in 1969, just before I was drafted....
I am surprised nobody mentioned all the other early features listed in the Ebay listing, assuming all are true). So more interesting than just sand cast parts. And being built on the first day probably adds more to the value than anything else.
Cool new technology but an older tech Norton Commando twin would beat one in a drag race and I think vibrate less, once you got to the rpm where the isolastic engine mounts worked.