The words “barn find” get tossed around a lot these days. You can see it on craigslist, ebay, or any number of classified sites where someone is trying to convince you that the old motorcycle/car/truck they are selling has been secretly stored away in some old guy’s barn for the last 15 years. As if that is supposed to reassure us that during those 15 years no moisture has ever touched it and therefore no rust, no rats have decided to make a nest in the seat/exhaust pipe/air intake, and that the previous owner was so conscientious that he drained the gas tank, cleaned the carbs, and remembered to remove the battery before parking it. Oh, and it was running perfectly before that, and it is now too.
Well, I’ve looked at enough old autos and been on enough wild goose chases to know that being stored in a barn does not mean that it’s going to be a great buy. That’s why I got that sparkle in my eye last week when I pulled up to this old homestead in eastern Tennessee and saw to my relief that this Honda was not parked in a barn. Gone are the dreams of finding that perfectly preserved bike when it looks like this:
Okay. There are no misrepresentations here.
The tires had plenty of air, the gas seemed fine, and there was plenty of clean oil in the old bike, so while partially neglected the 24k+ miles show that it does get to go out on the town once in a while. Dust it off, fire it up, take it for a spin. Pay the man, load it up, bring it home. Not bad.
Now I can see what needs to be done. It needs a new headlight, rear turn signal, tail light lens, front fender, seat hole patched, side panel crack repair, gas tank dent removed, some idle/carb adjustment, front brake bled, new starter button, lube check, gotta get rid of that ice cream paint job and give it a general cleanup, but other than that she’s cherry…
There is a solid list of pros to balance the cons above: 4 into 1 merged header, great cylinder compression, 4 new K&N pod air filters, no checking or dry rot on the tires that still have some miles on them, low rise cafe style handlebars, original tool kit, comfy seat (even if it is ripped), little to no wear on rear cog and drive chain, strong brakes that were replaced somewhat recently, upgraded to electronic ignition. And under the seat was the original owner’s manual, purchase receipts showing that it was sold on 4/20/1976 for $2053 dollars, and the original registration card showing frame and engine numbers – the same that are still on the bike- so it’s got the original engine too. Plus it came with a couple extras; most notably the luggage rack!
And all this just for taking the extra time to follow up and track this guy down through his mother, brother, and 1st cousin ’cause of course he doesn’t have a cell phone or internet. It took me 4 days of hunting to finally see the bike, and in the end it was well worth it.