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Beast of Boost: 1985 Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo

During the wild years of the decade known as the 1980s, there was a lot going on. Legwarmers were hot. The brat pack were hot. And most importantly, Turbos were hot. Every major Japanese manufacturer played with the puffer configuration at least once (Honda tried it twice) before giving up on induction-enhanced motorcycles. Honda built a pair of large, heavy sport touring bikes. Yamaha built a lazy Seca with futuristic fairing in a “me too” effort. Suzuki took the bonkers approach and built a no-apologies sport bike like a Katana on turbo steroids. And Kawasaki watched, learned, and eventually dipped their toes into the water with an updated GPz.

1985 Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo for sale on eBay

The largest of the turbo bikes by displacement, the Kawasaki GPz was also the fastest. The only factory turbo bike to break into the 10s in the quarter mile, the GPz 750 Turbo was not only faster than all its forced-induction peers, it was the fastest street bike tested in 1984. With an estimated 112 HP on tap thanks to the Hitachi turbo unit sitting low down and in front of the inline four. With ideal turbo placement for short exhaust primaries, Kawasaki’s approach minimized lag and maximized horsepower. Even then, power windup changes suddenly as the engine builds boost – making for a fun ride, but a less than predictable mount for tight canyons. Like all but the Yamaha, the Kawasaki Turbo introduced fuel injection in an effort to better control engine operations and promote rideability and longevity.

From the seller:
1985 KAWASAKI GPZ750 TURBO

Here’s a real nice Kawasaki 750 Turbo for sale. Bike is in near perfect original condition except for 1 flaw/crack on right lower side of faring. Always stored inside and covered. Runs and rides excellent with fresh oil and filter change. It is all original with factory owners manual and tool kit and has 530 chain conversion to get rid of the factory heavy 630 chain, see last 2 pics. Newer tires and battery.

While the Kawasaki Turbo takes after the GPz models, it differs in many ways. Engine internals, chassis geometry and suspension, and custom factory lowers were all bespoke to the Turbo, although Kawasaki did raid the GPz750 and GPz1100 parts bins to keep costs down. The resultant looks made it familiar to the GPz, yet officially it was known as the ZX750E and referred to simply as the Kawasaki 750 Turbo. Lasting only a couple of years with no significant changes, the Kawasaki GPz750 Turbo shared a similar life cycle with the rest of the Turbo packing offerings. Expensive, complicated and generally unloved, they all failed to sell well in the showrooms – despite the flash and the speed.

Today’s Turbo example is a 1985 model, and it looks like a true survivor. It does not appear to be scuffed, dropped, hot rodded or significantly modified. The seller states that the chain was downsized; the 530 chain is pretty stout, and the factory 630 size was incorporated no doubt due to concerns over longevity. Other than that, this appears to be an honest machine presented to us by a turbo collector (notice the XN85 in the background). The opening ask is a fair $6,999 – but there do not appear to be many bidders as of yet. Not terrifically valuable when compared to more elite machinery (RC30s, OW01, MHe, etc), Turbo bikes are slowly gaining ground as well as the respect of riders and buyers. If you are in the market for one of these unique time pieces, this 10,000 mile machine might be your opportunity. Check it out here, and then jump to the Comments to share your Turbo thoughts. Good Luck!!

MI

5 Comments

  • In a distant, less expensive time I owned a couple of these. They were a blast to ride. Not that to get in trouble with. They could gobble up the miles. The turbos were fragile if not taken care of and could puke in less than 10k miles if you let them spin dry at the end of a spirited ride. I also a Laverda triple during the time I owned the last Turbo. The Laverda was harder to ride but way more fun. Now I’m old and ride a Guzzi G5.

  • this bike will always be the top gun bike for me but the changes to sportbikes in the following 5 years would make this a pure nostalgia buy.

  • Very nice survivor, I’ve got an ’85 GPZ900, styling is very similar.

  • I still long for one of these. I owned an 84 GPZ1100. Got it around 1992. It seemed ancient then though i had only been riding 2 years. Total doppleganger for the 750 turbo save for the lowers. Even had the same DFI system. That 1100 had shockingly good brakes for such a relic. Shame the backbone chassis was a perfect recipe for tank slappers. I miss that bike but i learned to work on bikes with that machine. Unfortunately I learned from all the mistakes that utimately ended with snapped cam journals.
    I digress. I enjoyed the old bike but it nags at me what the 750 would be like for comparison. Lighter?! More engaging engine?! Same tankslappers?!

    At $7k I think this time machines ticket to side isn’t compelling enough. It is prodding my softspot for nostalgia and curiosity though. I doubt there would be one is this good a condition that would hit the right spot. Supply side issues. The rare only become moreso over time.

  • As the owner of one of each of the Japanese turbos, the Kawasaki is my all around favorite. Yes it’s a bit heavy, but the CG is a lot lower than the top heavy CX’s, it’s better put together than the Seca and much faster than the XN. It has a nice deep 4 cylinder growl, reasonable torque off boost, but on boost it puts a huge smile on my face. For me, when I want to work on elegant lines and carrying speed through corners I ride the XN. If I want more protection from
    the elements and/or to cover miles effortlessly but still play with boost I take out a CX-T. If I just want to have fun riding a rowdy bike it’s the Kawasaki. I would say for a clean complete example that seems to need nothing this is a great deal. I paid more than this for my bike in similar condition 5 yrs ago. Mine has been completely reliable once I got all the fuel lines replaced.

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