I admit that very occasionally I do get carried away – or at least perhaps allow ambition to get in the way of common sense. In 2015 I picked up a couple more 1972 model GT750’s and suddenly found I had no room to put them anywhere. Some decisions needed to be made.
Just to recap – back in 2009 I found this tired old soldier and brought it home (just ‘click’ on any image for a larger version):
And then in 2014 I was offered its assembly line mate, having the next consecutive frame number seen below to the left. That seemed so incredible (I mean, really what are the odds of that happening) that I decided to restore the both of them. Admittedly, it was not going to be easy as both were in very rough shape, but they did both still have their original engines. Below and to the right is a photo of them re-united after so many years:
Then, in rapid succession in 2014 and 2015 came three more – all of them basically scrap. And truthfully, one was just a frame:
I also had several spare engines, so clearly some triage was needed.
Restoring the two consecutively numbered frames with the original engines was a given, but I seemed to have enough ‘bits’ for at least a third build if I wanted to attempt it. Suzuki iterated the frame design over the course of production, and so to establish a ‘theme’ I decided to opt for only the original style frame type, which actually is also the worst design. That eliminated one frame from the list. Likewise a significant change was made to the engine design at about frame number 21133 which eliminated a couple of the engines I had. Another frame had some damage which would be difficult to repair, which left me with the bare frame as being the best candidate. All I needed was a suitable engine case having a number that was close enough to be ‘correct’ and I’d be in business. Luckily a search through the heap of old cases in Fred’s garden shed turned up one that, once the mouse droppings and dirt were cleaned off it, looked to be in good enough condition to use.
I had initially decided to build a bike in each colour offered in 1972 by Suzuki in Canada being: Yellow Ochre (gold), Candy Jackal Blue and Candy Lavender (famously referred to locally as ‘man-genta’). The trouble was, there were already a lot of fully restored or excellent original gold and lavender GT750’s out there. Looking further afield in Japan, the model was offered in a Bright Flake Red which I think looks really nice, and I liked the Candy Blue so, for the moment at least, the plan going forward is to do up the consecutive framed bikes in red and blue. That left a decision to be made about a third build.
Everyone does full up restorations – it has turned into a bit of a competition really – and the sad fact is after spending all that money, effort and time many of these restored machines become ‘trailer queens’ and do not get used as they were intended. A writer whom I enjoy reading by the name of Rick Parkington, is a big advocate of ‘oily rag’ restorations – basically just do what you need to do to make the thing mechanically sound and running properly, and live with the dents and rust which really are the history of the life of that machine. So, really a ‘recommissioning’ rather than an actual ‘restoration’. While this is common with older British and American bikes, you don’t see too many Japanese ones. As I had access to a lavender set of tin still in original paint, and as there is at least one other purple one in lovely original condition here in Calgary already, I decided to make my third built a purple oily rag rebuild. It helped that I personally don’t really like purple bikes (sorry Wade !).
And before someone sends me an email, I realise this won’t technically be a ‘real’ oily rag recommissiong as I will be building it up out of bits, and as I have no way of knowing what colour tin was originally hung on the frame I’m using. I can live with that. I suspect that with a bit of luck, there is a good chance it will offend a few of the self-appointed judges of all things ‘correct’ out there, which will perhaps put a smile on my face ! Plus it won’t bother me if I scratch the paint. 🙂