June 8, 2006 Every now and again, a special piece of machinery becomes available via auction and we always like to hear when that happens so we can tell the world. In this case the machine is a four cylinder RC164-1 Honda 250 Grand Prix racer. The bike was ridden by Jim Redman for most of the 1964 World Championship season before he switched to the new six-cylinder version for the final two races. Redman finished second to the Yamaha 250 two-stroke of Phil Read in one of the most hotly contested championships in history. Redman won the Isle of Man TT and the Dutch TT at Assen on the machine, on the latter occasion becoming the first man ever to win three Grand Prix classes in the same day. A further five second places, plus another win and a third place on the ‘six’ saw Jim finish with 58 points to Read’s 50, the latter taking the title by 46 points to 42 under the ‘best six results only’ system operating that year. Offered for sale by multiple World Championship winner Jim Redman, this machine (excellent detail pics in the image library) represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for serious collectors to acquire a genuine, ex-works, 1960s Grand Prix-winning Honda possessing impeccable provenance. Auctioneers Bonhams expect the bike to fetch in excess of UKP375,000 and might even make the highest price ever for a motorcycle sold at auction
‘Also-rans’ in the late 1950s, Japanese manufacturers came to dominate Grand Prix racing’s 1960s ‘Golden Age’, none more so than Honda, whose jewel-like, small-capacity lightweights represented the pinnacle of motorcycle engineering in their day. Built for and run by the works team, with only occasional loans to selected privateers, these hand-crafted masterpieces are extremely rare in private hands and only infrequently offered for sale. Only three complete four-cylinder machines of this particular type were made by Honda, and this one still has matching frame and engine numbers: ‘RC164-1’. It is believed to be the only original example of its kind still in existence – Jim remembers one being crashed and the engine of the other being removed to be put in another machine. British by birth, Jim Redman emigrated to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in his teens. He started motorcycle racing on a Triumph twin before going on to win the South African Championship on an AJS 7R and setting sail for Europe. His big break came in 1960 when he stood in for injured Honda works rider Tom Phillis and was offered a contract for the following season. By the time he retired from racing at the end of 1966, Jim had amassed no fewer than 45 Grand Prix victories and six World Championships for Honda: two in the 250cc class and four in the 350cc category. After the season’s end, ‘RC164-1’ was given to Jim by Mr Takahashi of Honda. Jim transported the machine to South Africa where it remained in its shipping crate until 1998 when prominent private collector Luke Lawlor, of Dublin, persuaded him to bring it to Europe to display and run at various revival events. The machine was cosmetically restored circa 1999, while the engine has received a full rebuild that was only completed in 2004. It has not been started since. Prospective purchasers will have the opportunity to view this wonderful machine at Mallory Park’s Bonhams-sponsored 50th Anniversary International Post-TT meeting on 10-11th June and other selected events throughout the summer session. Ben Walker, Bonhams motorcycle specialist said: "We have consistently achieved world record auction prices for motorcycles at Bonhams. This ex-works Honda is one of the most exciting machines to come onto the market for years and could break all records. It has the potential to make the highest price ever for a motorcycle sold at auction."