Homologation specials are big business on two wheels just as they are on four, as this weekend’s record-setting sale price of a 1990 Honda VFR750R ‘RC30’ has demonstrated.
When the hammer came down at Silverstone Auctions on the road-going version of Honda’s V4-engined racer, the final price was £65,250 – a UK record for the model.
Much as Japanese road-car heroes of the 1990s such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution and Subaru Impreza were designed for the rigours of competition, so too was the RC30. Created by Honda Racing Corporation, or HRC, it was designed to win the newly-formed World Superbike Championship.
And just like its four-wheeled counterparts, HRC’s engineering focus paid off: The RC30 took the manufacturers’ title in 1988, 1989 and 1990, while also enabling riders’ titles for American Fred Merkel in 1988 and 1989. Other notable silverware includes a pair of Macau Grand Prix wins in 1989 and 1990, and a Nürburgring Nordschleife lap record in 1993.
The RC30 drew its power from a 748cc, four-stroke V4 with twin-cam heads. That little combination was good for 118bhp in road-going models and as much as 140bhp with an HRC parts kit with racing carbs and cams.
Customers really paid for the privilege of this kind of motorsport engineering: At £8499 in 1988, an RC30 was only a few hundred quid shy of a Peugeot 205 GTi, and around twice the price of equivalent 750s – though an inflation-adjusted price of £19,107 now seems quite reasonable; its modern equivalent, the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade, comes in at £23,499.
That the auction RC30 has come in at just shy of three times that shows the value of nostalgia, but also that this particular bike showed just two “push kilometres” on the clock. Part of the David Silver Honda Collection in Italy until five years ago, and in private hands since, the bike had never been registered, nor used.
A suite of original accessories no doubt lubricated bids too, including the original tool roll, paddock stand and its original Italian paperwork. As the auction listing points out the bike would need recommissioning before use, though whether its new owner will wish to add to its two-kilometre tally is another matter.