Now that’s what you call a motorcycle and it was bought at the Bonhams’ auction during the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Stafford Show at the weekend for a snip over £30k.
The 1990 machine came complete with a factory Honda motor and hand-built aluminium chassis. And that sales price isn’t what you’d call pricey (if you compare to current exotica like the £72,000 Ducati Superleggera).
And this particular bike is just one of three made. That’s because it doesn’t use a V4 motor but the V3 engine from the RS500. That motor pushes out around 130bhp and was used by Italian Carlo Verona as the powerplant for the bike for which he made the aluminium chassis and swingarm.
Following the embarrassing debacle of the NR500, an oval-piston four-cylinder four-stroke that was supposed to bring Honda parity with the two-strokes then dominating Grand Prix racing’s 500cc class, the Japanese firm swallowed its corporate pride and went down the stroker path for 1982.
Rivals Yamaha and Suzuki had been running four-cylinder 500s for years, so it surprised the pundits when Honda’s new contender turned out be a three-cylinder, and one with reed-valve induction rather than the disc valves favoured by everyone else. Although less powerful than the fours, the NS triple was lighter, more manoeuvrable, and possessed higher corner speed, so on some circuits could expect to have the advantage. As it happened, it wasn’t that much slower at the top end either, a works rider Freddie Spencer’s win (his first) at the fast Spa Francorchamps circuit demonstrated. Boasting an aluminium frame for 1983 (introduced mid-1982) the NS500 proved good enough to bring Spencer his first World Championship in the 500cc class. The factory ran an all-new V4 for Spencer in 1984, though many believe they should have stuck with the tried-and-tested triple, which by this time had been made available to customers as the RS500.
This bike was one of three made in 1990 by Verona Racing Products (VRP) in Italy, the first going to Dario Marchetti, who won the Italian Championship and would go to compete in Grands Prix and the World Superbike Championship. VRP’s twin-spar aluminium beam frame represented state-of-the-art Grand Prix chassis design at the time, and the team also fitted ‘upside-down’ forks, AP Racing brakes. The RS500 engine has the Automatic Torque Amplification Control (ATAC) exhaust ‘power valve’ system, as adopted on the factory bike in 1983, and breathes via 38mm Dell’Orto flat-slide carburettors.