Lot 432: 1962 CZ 320cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle
Histories of 1960s Grand Prix racing usually concentrate on the inexorable rise of the Japanese manufacturers and their titanic struggles against Western European rivals and each other, while the important supporting role played by Eastern Block factories, most notably MZ in East Germany and CZ/Jawa in Czechoslovakia, tends to be overlooked. Despite the handicap of annual development budgets that would not have kept Honda in spark plugs for a week, and political restrictions that severely limited forays abroad, these ‘Iron Curtain’ makes achieved some notable successes against the much better funded opposition from Japan and the West.
Originally an armaments manufacturer, the Czech firm of Ceska Zbroiouka (CZ) diversified into motorcycle making in the early 1930s and was merged with erstwhile rivals Jawa in 1949, although the two firms’ Grand Prix racing operations would remain separate and pursue different paths. CZ’s modern era began in 1955 with the appearance of two new four-stroke singles - a 125 and a 250 - the former achieving a debut 2nd place at the Swedish Grand Prix that year. Housed in identical duplex loop frames, these two engines were constructed along thoroughly modern lines, boasting unit construction, dohc valvegear and five-speed gearboxes. Frantisek Bartos rode the 250 to victory in the (non-World Championship) Austrian GP in 1956 and formed part of CZ’s team at the Isle of Man TT, where the dustbin-faired CZs performed above expectation, coming home in 6th place in the 125 race and 5th in the 250.
In the Golden Jubilee TT of 1957 Bartos did even better, finishing 7th in the 125 race and 4th in the 250 behind winner Cecil Sandford (Mondial) but ahead of Sammy Miller (Mondial) and Dave Chadwick (MV-Agusta). The Jubilee TT is also notable as the first occasion on which the great Franta Stastny, more usually associated with Jawa, raced for rivals CZ. Ulsterman Miller signed for CZ the following year and promptly finished 2nd behind World Champion Carlo Ubbiali (MV-Agusta) in the Austrian Grand Prix. At the Isle of Man TT Miller finished 6th in the 250 race on CZ’s new six-speed single despite crashing on the second lap, but quit later in the season to concentrate on his trials career. For the next season-and-a-half CZ severely curtailed its road race programme. When the firm returned to the Grand Prix scene in 1960, it was with a brace of entirely new machines.
Neater and more compact than their predecessors, the new 125 and 250 singles featured two-stage drive to the double overhead camshafts, a vertical shaft driving the exhaust cam from which a shorter one drove the inlet. CZ’s solitary foreign-soil outing in 1960, at the Austrian GP, resulted in a fine 2nd place for Bartos’s 125 behind Ernst Degner’s MZ. CZ returned to the Isle of Man TT in 1962, its best result being number one rider Stanislav Malina’s 7th place in the 125 race won by Luigi Taveri (Honda). Malina gained further World Championship points in 1963 but was out of luck at the TT where neither he nor Stastny, again CZ-mounted, finished a race.
1964 brought greater rewards in the shape of CZ’s first international race victory, when Malina won the 250 race at the Austrian GP. At the Isle of Man TT CZ’s number one bagged a brace of 4th places and would surely have been on the podium in the 250 race had not his rear wheel partially collapsed. In the 125 race, Malina’s new twin was the sole non-Honda in the first eight finishers. He took away the Overseas Newcomers’ Award.
The machine offered here, engine number ‘250.1.62’, is Malina’s 4th place machine from the ’64 TT, which also is known to have finished 4th in the 1965 East German Grand Prix and 3rd in the 1966 Finish Grand Prix, on both occasions ridden by ‘Frankie’ Stastny. In 1965 CZ began a programme of gradual enlargement of the 250 single as a relatively inexpensive means of gaining entry into the 350 class, this machine’s engine being enlarged to 320cc by the factory around 1967. Fitted with new tyres, chain and ignition system, the machine is described by the French private vendor as “100riginal” and “perfect for racing or parading.”
Ex-works Grand Prix racing motorcycles of the 1960s are infrequently offered for sale on the open market, so this ex-works CZ, possessing Isle of Man TT and World Championship history, represents a rare opportunity to acquire such an important machine, guaranteeing the purchaser entry into the most prestigious of historic motorcycling events.
Bonhams, Classic & Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford
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