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Grace
Hagerty Employee

Why do collectors pay double for a Honda CB750 engine cast in sand?

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...

17 REPLIES 17
spoom
Technician

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. 

RLO
Passenger

"...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....

Andrew
Hagerty Employee

Hi RLO. We like to be accurate, so nit picking is good! We have edited the story to represent what the author intended (a rough estimate that remaining Sandcasts make up 0.7% of CB750 production or ~45% of Sandcasts exist in some form)
OLDERbastard1
Detailer

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 🙂

jstrohm
New Driver

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 ....

greatscott73
Intermediate Driver

Ask your resident Corsair nut Kyle about 1960 models with horn slots. Oddity on very early production cars that immediately raises the price!

greatscott73
Intermediate Driver

I meant Corvair! I wasn’t referring to an Edsel, lol
jeffUnger
Passenger

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......!!!!

RALPHIII
New Driver

I have one ...

 

 

adsinger
Pit Crew

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.

K12LT
Passenger

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 . 

CUDA68
Passenger

Obscurity has a valve.

Somer
New Driver

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.

beeser
Intermediate Driver

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....)

 

 

 

f101wrench
Passenger

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....

 

in_garage
Pit Crew

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. 

sandcast69
New Driver

Good article!, a few things to correct:

The total run of single overhead cam 750s was almost 800,000 units (from '69 thru '78), not 445,000.

The sandcast is somewhat rare, (not due to the percentage PRODUCED from the factory), but rather how many survived. Back in '69 when first introduced the bike (due to an inferior drive chain), the sandcasts were launching chains through the cases on a daily basis..thus leading to Honda having to replace those cases with new (now no value) diecast cases.

I personally know of one Dealer in L.A. that was stacking destroyed sandcast cases weekly, 4 ft. high along a 40 ft. shop wall, all headed for the scrap yard.

Multiply that times all the U.S. Honda Dealers at the time (yes, we know, Los Angeles sold the most bikes back then).

Another contributor to the low survival rate of the sandcast, was that back in '69, many people were chopping their bikes (permanently destroying the frame), OR street drag racing, and crashing, sending the bike to the scrap yard as well.

So, it is Not 45% of sandcasts that remain, it's more like 5% (worldwide).

Also, the 1,078th bike, as mentioned (IF it were diecast from the factory, and if All bikes were merely using diecast cases from the beginning) would actually have more value than later bikes (primarily because Honda was making important running changes back then to that early model), such as the ultra rare sandcast oil filter cover (stopped from the factory at frame # 1,860), or the "no pointer", no "OFF ON OFF" kill switch (only seen on the first few hundred bikes).

In fact, thru the 1970 model, there were some Three Hundred changes made to the bike, making those early parts rare of course, obviously raising that hypothetical diecast bike's value on its own.

Thanks!
Vic