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Lot 433: 1989 Honda VFR750R Type RC30 Racing Motorcycle

Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams (16 October 2005)

One of the modern era’s few immediately collectible classics, the Honda VFR750R - better known as the ‘RC30’ - was created for just one reason: to win the World Superbike Championship, a feat it achieved in the nascent series’ first two seasons of 1988 and ’89. And while American Fred Merkel was bringing Honda its first two WSB crowns, Britain’s Carl Fogarty used an RC30 to win the TT F1 World Championship in 1988 and ’89, and the equivalent FIM Cup in 1990. No mere short circuit scratcher, the RC30 and its derivatives proved durable enough to win a hat-full of Endurance Classics too. That this latter requirement was also part of the design brief may be determined from the fact that a quick-release front fork and single-sided swinging arm - essential for speedy wheel changes - were part of an unrivalled specification that included a twin-spar alloy beam frame, 16-valve V4 engine with gear-driven cams, close-ratio six-speed gearbox and four-pot front brake calipers.
Indeed, so good was the basic RC30 that well prepared privately entered examples were often able to give the works entries a run for their money. The RC30 offered here is one such. Owned and raced by one of Britain’s foremost road-circuit specialists, the late Steve Ward, this RC30 was supplied by Honda for Steve in 1989 and was only ever raced by him. Although Steve Ward enjoyed a measure of support from Honda, it was not till 1995 that he was awarded a full works ride, on the new RC45. Honda were in the process of developing the new RC45 and could see Steve beating them at the TT that year on his ageing, though fully sorted, RC30. Seeking to avoid that embarrassment, Honda gave Steve an RC45, on which he finished 3rd in the Senior Race.

Steve raced this RC30 all over the world with great success. Most notably the bike was raced every year at the TT, being a consistent top-six finisher. In 1993 Steve claimed 3rd place in both the Senior and Formula 1 races, beating the likes of Joey Dunlop, Jason Griffiths and Jim Moodie. In 1992, Steve rode the RC30 to 2nd place in the Ulster Grand Prix 1st Senior Race and there were many other successes over the years. Sadly, Steve lost his life in the late 1990s while racing abroad. After Steve’s death the bike was bought from his widow by a friend and enthusiast, and has been painstakingly restored, with no expense spared.

This RC30 will go down in history as one of the most successful privateer examples ever campaigned. Its specification includes a host of rare and highly desirable Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) kit parts including forks, wheels, yokes, radiators, rev counter, temperature gauges, endurance racing ignition coils, wiring harness, ignition, Formula I carburettors and front brake discs. Other noteworthy features include Ohlins rear suspension unit, Ohlins steering damper, hand-made exhaust system, modified 25-litre fuel tank, new slick tyres and much more besides. The machine is registered for the road ‘F374 UHD’ and offered with Swansea V5 registration document (showing Stephen Leslie Ward as previous owner) and F W Developments dynamometer test printout (recording a maximum power output of 126.7bhp at 12,300 rpm).

Road going Honda RC30s have been achieving strong prices in the salesrooms recently, reflecting the model’s iconic status. Genuine racing RC30s are much less frequently encountered, a state of affairs that makes this example, owned and ridden by one of the top road-circuit specialists of his day, and with two Isle of Man TT podium finishes to its credit, all the more collectible.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams, Classic & Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford
Lot Number433
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
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