Classic Bike Profiles – Suzuki Gs 750

Another great classic bike that you can find on today’s market place for very low prices is the Suzuki Gs 750. The Suzuki Gs 750 was a fantastic mid-range bike produced from 1976 to 1983.

The I’m quite the fan of the old Suzuki’s, they may not be the most powerful or modern (for their production time), but they sure are fun to ride. The Suzuki Gs750 was introduced with an air-cooled DOHC 4 stroke engine that turned out about 63 horsepower. Not enough to break the speed of sound but plenty of pick-up for a sport bike this size.

There are several models available starting with the 750 in ’76-’78, GS750E in ’79-’80, GS750L also ’79-’80, and finally the GS750G and GS750GL in 1981. All had a 5-speed gearbox and a front disc rear drum brake setup.

One thing about Suzuki Gs motorcycles I am particularly fond of is their ability to handle abuse and provide good reliability. Especially for a rider today who wants to enjoy the classic style of a Gs750 yet doesn’t want to spend every waking moment tuning the bike and making adjustments.

In fact the Suzuki Gs750 is a perfect candidate for restoration or customization as well. There are several Cafe kits available for those looking to relive the days when these bikes used to fly at crazy speeds down race tracks and many also go the bobber/chopper route as well. These bikes are very simple and easy to work on so customizing one to suit your tastes is something that can be tackled even by the somewhat inexperienced mechanics out there.

Now on to the ride.. The Suzuki Gs750 is a particularly stable and well handling bike that is capable of handling and stopping the power it puts out with ease. I still feel the brakes leave a little to be desired but that is fairly common of all older sport bikes.

The best part about these Gs750’s is that they are not only abundant still today, but you can pick up very clean examples for under $3,000 dollars and decent running bikes for $2,000. At those prices why not add one to your collection?

The Classic Lotus Elan is Totally Unhappy at Rest

The classic Lotus Elan just begs of you to take it out on the open road where it belongs. The elan driver truly revels in its ability to slice quickly through a series of challenging corners, best done of course in the wee small hours of a mid summer’s morning with the top down, it is the kind of car where you lightly put on and take off seemingly small increments of steering lock with the fingertips, you gently brush the brake pedal, and squeeze the throttle & clutch with your toes. Driving an elan requires finesse similar to piloting a light plane.

Rush through the steep alpine country and listen to the crackle and rasp of the twin cam exhaust note bouncing off the rock wall cuttings at 6500 rpm in the intermediate gears is an aural mechanical symphony. The short moments when you call on the disc brakes when you run deep into a corner, then tippy-toeing in second gear deep into the apex of the next corner, such is the joy of a manual four speed, ultra close ratio gearbox with which the elan is equipped.

With a 3.5 to 1 ratio diff, there’s 50 mph in first, and a tad less than 70 mph in second… zero to 100 mph in less than 30 seconds is always an invigorating feeling in a classic lotus sports car. Remarkably, the elan has the ability to do it all so quickly, you often surprise yourself by almost running over the top of a slow driver in a mundane tin top with a large speed differential.

The elan is proof that you don’t need cubic inches for exhilarating performance; just the opposite is true, the performance that this small but very willing twin cam 1600cc engine delivers when coupled with the ultra close ratio gearbox is almost one of disbelief? It has far more performance than one expects from only four cylinders.

To anyone not familiar with, or not ever the pleasure to drive an Elan, would be alarmed, but a lotus elan (Most now over 40 years old) possess impeccable handling, braking and acceleration abilities that in its day was hailed as incredibly outstanding… even today, a well cared for & maintained elan is still a brilliant sports car to own & drive, leaving many a modern car in its wake, such is their race-bred heritage.

The classic elan is arguably truly undervalued as an exciting and extremely rewarding high performance classic sports car to own, you need only ask any long-term Elan owner, many of whom have snapped up several examples to rebuild, maintain and enjoy.

There is a burgeoning & thriving global after market spare parts industry that caters for the Elan owner wanting to maintain, rebuild & restore the elan to better than new condition, the classic lotus Elan is sure to be a much sought after classic sports car for a long time to come, and if you have ever dreamed of owning an elan, you should act quickly to secure yours soon, as the values will surely skyrocket in the short term.

While the lotus elan is an incredibly rewarding car to own & drive drive, they are not without their shortcomings, if you fail to understand the mechanics of the twin cam engine, based on the Ford 1600cc block & capped with a complex alloy twin cam cylinder head, or you do not have a well equipped workshop where repairs, rebuilds, or fibreglass body repairs can be undertaken, think carefully, because for all of its joy, the elan may not be for you.

But, if you are blessed with considerable financial resources, this will afford you an alternative to outsource the servicing and rebuilds. There are numerous lotus specialists in many countries ready to service & maintain your elan at a reasonable cost, their valuable knowledge and expertise has been hard won through many years of involvement with the classic lotus elan marque.

One of the major nemeses of the elan is that of the rear drive train, from the inception of the elan, rubber dough-nuts were employed as flexible drive couplings on the rear intermediate axles, they gave no end of trouble with breakages once several thousand miles and age had taken effect.

The modern answer to this problem is to install a well-designed, robust CV drive shaft conversion. There is an exceptional Australian designed and built drive shaft conversion which many elan owners around the globe have been attracted to for the bullet-proof design and build quality provided. This CV drive shaft system will provide years and years of trouble free elan motoring, and the best part is that the system can be easily installed by the average elan owner without the need for any special tools. Many owners comment on the new driving sensation they experience with their elan after installation of the elantrikbits CV solid drive shaft system.

The Classic Volkswagen Kombi – Does It Still Make A Practical Daily Driver?

The air-cooled Volkswagen Kombi is a motoring icon. It’s a classic van that is chock full of character, and a lot of young guys (and girls) still aspire to own one as their daily driver. But are they getting a bit long in the tooth now to make a practical vehicle for daily use?

I drive my 1976 2 liter bay window every day, and my experience gives a good indication of what you may have to do to make your unrestored Kombi safe and comfortable to drive as your main car.

Volkswagen Kombis are well over 30 years old now and it shows. I’ve spent a lot of time and money over the last few years getting mine back to a reasonable condition, and if you buy a cheap Kombi you have to be prepared to do the same. Even a more expensive Kombi will most likely need some repairs and TLC.

The 1800cc and 2 liter models are the most practical because they have more get up and go than the models with smaller engines, though it does cost more to rebuild the engines.

First the upside.

Kombis are cool, they’re iconic, they have character and they are definitely not boring.

They are fun to drive and when they are in good nick they are comfortable and handle well with good steering. The later model bay windows keep up with the traffic fine and can cruise on 60 mph all day, though they do slow down on bigger hills.

And they are practical. There’s lots of room in a Kombi. Maybe it’s not as good as a modern van because of the hump for the rear engine, but they still make a great camper or an 8 seater van with room for luggage or groceries. Ground clearance is good and the engine over the rear wheels gives good traction for a two wheel drive if you want to get off the beaten track a bit.

Now, here’s what to be aware of if you plan on owning one of these as your daily driver.

Rust of course is the biggest killer of Kombis or any old car. You’re much better off spending a bit more money and getting a reasonably rust free Kombi. Given that you do find a rust free Kombi though, there are still a lot of things to eat up your money before it’s even practical to use your van on a daily basis.

The engine may be worn out. I rebuilt mine a couple of years ago with new barrels and pistons, all new bearings, reground crankshaft and camshaft, and rebuilt heads. The heads were converted for use with unleaded petrol at the same time. This all costs money.

The steering and suspension are safety related and have to be right.

On the suspension I’ve replaced the four main ball joints and the shockies. With the steering I’ve replaced all the tierrod ends and the main center pin. The steering damper is next on the replacement list, and that should see the steering right for my Kombi. It’s always possible that yours may need a new steering box as well.

Your Kombi’s brakes also need to be right. Brake linings are something that do need regular replacing, but I’ve also replaced the rear brake drums because they were worn beyond limits, and the front discs will need replacing next time the front brake pads are done.

I’ve replaced all the flexible brake hoses because they are well over thirty years old now and they do get brittle and I’ve replaced some of the metal brake lines because they were corroded. The rear brake cylinders were replaced a few years ago and the front brake calipers were rebuilt with new seals.

On the rear drive train there are four cv joints, and the ones on my bay window were very sad. They were replaced along with the rear wheel bearings.

One very important area to look at is the fuel lines for the engine. Kombis do burn, and it’s caused by petrol spraying all over the engine. Check the fuel lines carefully and if they look old and cracked replace them with quality fuel line. Make sure that they are not rubbing on the tinware and that the pipes going into the carby and fuel pump are not loose. This is important!

As well as things that you know may need fixing, there is always the unexpected. A spray nozzle came loose from the carby in my bay window and went through the engine. It’s only a small thin brass tube but it sounded as though there were marbles rattling around in the engine. Luckily there was no damage, but it did mean pulling out the engine and taking off the cylinder heads to check everything and to remove the remains of the spray nozzle. And just this week I’ve had to replace the alternator.

As well as mechanical wear and tear there are the cosmetics to think about. Your cheap Kombi may need a paint job, new carpets, new upholstery, and even the front seats may need attention.

On the comfort side new door seals and window seals may be needed to stop rattles and drafts. The heater may need some attention. On my Kombi the heater cables had seized. That didn’t worry me until I moved from a hot part of the country to a much colder area where temperatures get below freezing in the winter.

On the plus side parts are readily available. For my Kombi, a 1976 2 liter model, I have been able to buy every part I have needed apart from the carby spray nozzles, and even then I was able to get by with parts of a different model VW.

My opinion is that despite all the repairs and restoration, Volkswagen Kombis can still be a practical daily driver. You do need to accept the fact that your purchase price is only part of the story, and that you will have to spend time and money bringing your classic Kombi back to a safe and comfortable condition.