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Bonhams 1793 Ltd – Motorcycle dept
101 New Bond Street, London
Tel:  020 8963 2817
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  • £42,000 Auction Estimate
  • 1975
Message the seller
Price £42,000 Auction Estimate
Ad Type For Sale by Auction
Category Motorcycles
Make Suzuki
Model 750
Year 1975
Country UK
Region Oxfordshire
Telephone 020 8963 2817
Status Trade
Date 22-Jul-2020
Ref C1248371
This motorcycle is to be auctioned at our Live and Online Summer Sale, Hanger 113, Bicester Heritage, OX26 5HA.

Friday 14 August Spares & Memorabilia (Lot 1 - 212) 10am
Saturday 15 August Motorcycles (Lot 301 - 462) 10am
Sunday 16 August Motorcycles (Morbidelli Collection) (Lot 501 - 704) 10am

In light of the current government guidelines and relaxed measures we are delighted to welcome viewing, strictly by appointment. All the lots will be on view at Bicester Heritage in our traditional Hangar 113. We will ensure social distancing measures are in place, with gloves and sanitiser available for clients wishing to view motorcycle history files.

Please contact Bonhams Motorcycles with your preferred date, time and vehicle registration number to book an appointment.

Wednesday 12 August 1pm to 5pm
Thursday 13 August 9am to 5pm
Friday 14 August 9am to 5pm
Saturday 15 August 9am to 5pm (Lots 501-704 only)

Please note that whilst public viewing is available by appointment, the auction itself will be conducted from a remote saleroom, behind closed doors without public access, in accordance with the current government guidelines. All bidding will be conducted via Online, Telephone and Absentee Bidding. Please contact our Bids Department to register.

Hangar 113
Bicester Heritage
Buckingham Road
OX26 5HA

FRAME NO. GT750-62865 AND 2859
• Ultra-rare factory machine
• Believed to be Tait's 1976 North West 200 750-class winning machine
• Outstandingly original and unmolested
• Present ownership since the early 1980s
• 'As last raced' condition

The ultra-rare factory machine offered here was ridden to victory in the 1976 Isle of Man Classic TT by Texaco Heron Team Suzuki works rider John Williams. As such, it represents the final development of Suzuki XR11 Formula 750 racer (also known as the TR750). Initially dubbed the 'Flexy Flier' on account of its wayward handling, it was an XR11 that Barry Sheene was riding when he had that famous Daytona crash in 1975; though to be fair to the Suzuki, that was caused by a tyre failure rather than any inherent deficiency in the machine.

The XR11 had been developed from the GT750 roadster for the increasingly popular 750-class racing. The latter had first become established in the USA in 1969, progressing to the FIM Formula 750 Championship in 1973 and finally the Formula 750 World Championship in 1977 as the class's stature grew. For its 750 racer, Suzuki up-rated the GT750 engine with different cylinders, a dry clutch and magnesium castings; they also developed an entirely new lightweight frame, and it was this that would prove the XR11's Achilles Heel. Made from tubing that was too small in diameter, it flexed under power, hence that famous sobriquet.

Maximum power was raised from an initial 100bhp in 1972 to 116bhp for 1975 in the XR11's final incarnation. By this time the frame had undergone several revisions to strengthen it, and for 1975 the chassis was further updated with an XR14 (RG500) swinging arm and lay-down shock absorbers. At last the XR's handling was no longer a handicap, as evidenced by John Williams' Isle of Man TT victory in '76 (you don't win in the Island on a motorcycle that doesn't handle well). Indeed, John had made history in the Senior race by setting the first 110mph lap of the Mountain Circuit and repeated that feat on board his XR11 in the Classic race.

Born in 1946, John Williams made his racing debut in 1964 and progressed through club racing ranks to make his Isle of Man debut in the Manx Grand Prix in 1966. Williams swiftly established a reputation as a public roads specialist, securing his first IoM win in the 1971 500 Production TT. John would go on to win a further three TTs and score nine podium finishes. He was sponsored by Tom Arter and then Gerald Brown before signing for Texaco Heron Team Suzuki for 1976, joining Barry Sheene and John Newbold.

Neither Williams nor Newbold enjoyed parity of equipment with Sheene, who kept all three of the latest factory XR14 bikes for himself, so it would have surprised few when both men left at the end of 1976. Out of the five Grands Prix he contested in an injury plagued season, Williams finished on three occasions, the highlight being victory in the Belgian round at Spa. He had also contested the FIM 750 Championship that year aboard the XR11 (assumed to be this machine) with disappointing results (13th in Holland and 7th in Germany), though 5th place in the MCN Superbike Championship was some consolation. Continuing his career with Appleby Glade sponsorship, John Williams enjoyed considerable success as a privateer and had just won the 500cc race at the 1978 Ulster Grand Prix when he crashed in the 1,000cc race, dying in hospital of complications later that day.

Records show that the machine offered here is a 1975 model, first used by the Suzuki works team in the USA, which was dispatched to the UK at the end of the '75 season together with the team's equipment when it pulled out of racing. Suzuki's American works riders for 1975 had been Dave Aldana and Pat Hennen. According to former Texaco Heron Team Suzuki Grand Prix technicians Nigel Everett (letter on file) and Martyn Ogborne, 'GT750-62865' (the last of the frame number sequence) was assigned to works rider Percy Tait in 1976 for use in Formula 750 events before being allocated to John Williams halfway through the season.

Texaco Heron Team Suzuki did not campaign the XR11s after 1976 and the bikes were disposed of, this example being sold to Percy Tait on 4th November '76 (the Percy Tait Racing stickers are still on the fairing). By this time Percy had retired from racing (following a serious accident in the Isle of Man Production TT in 1976) and become a Suzuki dealer. It is not known whether or not Percy sponsored another rider on the XR11.

The current vendor, a motorcycle racing enthusiast with an important private collection, saw this XR11 advertised in MCN in the early 1980s purchased it from the owner, a garage proprietor in Leominster. The Suzuki has been kept as part of his collection since then and is presented in wonderful 'as last raced' condition. Ex-factory machines of this pedigree - original and unmolested - rarely come to the market, making this ultra-rare and historic TT-winning XR11 of exceptional interest to collectors.

£42,000 - 48,000
€47,000 - 54,000

As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.

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