1969 Honda CB 750 “sand cast”: an incredible story
By Tim Parker
“Sand cast” guru Andy Morris of Hampton Bays, New York built this bike. Morris has worked on 15 “sand cast” CB 750s and nearly 50 later versions – he is so good that he can correctly assemble one of these Hondas from a tub of parts without reference to any manual – and he remembers buying # 2659 from a shop in Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. Its restoration took him three years and he used only OEM NOS replacement “sand cast” parts except for the rear rim which he had to have re-plated. All the fasteners, the spokes, the wiring harness, the four exhaust pipes, and other components came out of Honda parts boxes.
The fuel tank is an exception. Morris could not find an NOS “sand cast” tank – the one with the “wrinkled” base – and so substituted a later item still with its original paint. Externally the tanks are the same. The original tank was lost but the seller subsequently found another “wrinkle” tank, in need of paint, which will accompany the bike when sold.
The engine was sent to Mark McGrew of 3M Racing (Minnesota) – another well-loved Honda guru – to be rebuilt using only Honda OEM NOS parts. Between them Andy and Mark built a “new” bike! It was obtained by the seller in 2004 and he has ridden it only for 756 miles.
Just what is a “sand cast” Honda CB 750?
The first CB 750s rolled off the production line in late 1968/early 1969 – stress is placed here on the word “production” – as 1969 models designated, simply, CB 750 (without a K-number suffix.) The CB 750 K0 was the second model, a transition model, followed closely by the 1970 K1, and so on through 1978 and the K8. The 1969 “sand cast” production had engine crankcases that were cast in “short-term molds” that were unsuitable for mass production. Honda did not want to pour – no pun intended - all their investment capital into one strategy before they had some measure of its likely success.
Technically speaking those early molds were not made of sand. They were steel molds and the process is called gravity or low pressure die casting, a process which produces a mildly rough exterior texture that is somewhat similar to that of sand casting. Once success came Honda switched to “high volume” pressure die cast steel molds. But “sand cast” stuck.
- Frame # CB750-1002659
- Engine # CB750E-1002839
- 4-cylinders, 4 Keihin carburetors, 4 exhaust pipes – the first street Honda Four -736cc 67-horsepower at 8,000rpm
- Candy Blue Green
- Odometer reading is 756 miles since restoration
- The bike is located on the US East Coast; all taxes and duty paid and can be viewed by arrangement
- Sold with a clean New Jersey title
“Hondas started electrically, the innovation derided by many but which no one could resist. Yes, kick-starting was great theater, but it didn’t always end well. After the 20th exhausting but manly stab at the lever, onlookers began to drift away. Why not just hit the button and go?” - Kevin Cameron (Cycle World)
New bikes were available in the USA, officially, from June 6, 1969. Of the 400,000 CB 750 single-overhead-cam K-models sold through 1978, only 7,414 had “sand cast” engines, some 1.85% of the total. The model is thus very rare. Of those left, only a very few are in original, unrestored shape or, come to that, fully and properly restored. And perhaps more to the point, starting a restoration today is extremely hard because of the paucity of OEM NOS “sand cast” parts.
“Surely Honda had not undertaken the expense of nine years of top-level Grand Prix road racing just to put the phrase “Honda Four” on everyone’s lips for nothing?
“Modern times begin with the CB 750. By 1969 the Japanese had evolved into being mainstream motorcycle makers… Now came along a machine from Japan that was to reshape motorcycle history. The British would not find an answer to this bike.
Today’s wisdom is to buy a restored CB 750. Buy this CB 750 because it is now near impossible to replicate a “sand cast” like it.
PHOTOS BY: JAMES TYLER REED
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