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Turbo City Madman: 1983 Honda CX650 Turbo

Relisted with a whopping price drop from $18k opening ask in May down to $12k, this low miles school bike is reflecting the reality of the Turbo market. Links updated. -MI

This is a bike that really shouldn’t need any introduction to the pages of RSBFS. After all, being the self-proclaimed RSBFS turbo nerd I *know* that I’ve posted more than a few. Why? Because they are awesome in a mega-flawed sort of way that drives you to either love or hate them. And despite their totally unloved status when new, they have recently encountered a bit of a resurgence in interest – and price. Today’s 27 mile example is the poster child for the movement, although it also represents an interesting counter-point to the whole factory Turbo saga.

1983 Honda CX650 Turbo for sale on eBay

Honda was the fist to bring a turbocharged motorcycle to market as a full factory supported effort with the 1982 CX500TC (technically the Kawasaki Z1-R TC was first atmospherically enhanced motorbike, but that was not factory). That particular bike bristled with new technology that only Honda engineering could bring to the fore, including a sophisticated computerized fuel injection system to manage the complicated intake situation and ensure engine longevity. The CX650 Turbo built on that foundation by increasing displacement and compression ratio to help improve the off-boost rideability. This also greatly improved the transition from off-boost to boost (although you’ll never miss that event) and help minimize the dreaded turbo lag. In all, the CX650 was the most polished of the factory turbo entries, being the only boosted bike to benefit from a second generation of development. Sadly, that was not enough to overcome the price, the stigma, the weight and the stigma. By 1985 the turbo era was well and truly over, save for oddball collectors and enthusiasts (ahem).

From the seller:
Up for sale is a 1983 Honda CX650T motorcycle – Only 27 miles.
This was a school motorcycle – sticker shown in pictures. Because it was a school motorcycle there was never a title issued. Registration and a Bill of Sale will be the only documents provided.

We picked it up years ago – always garaged. A nice clean motorcycle. Please note some cosmetic damage to the fairing, fender, etc. I tried to take several pictures to show any imperfections. Also, I did replace the rear cowl, which is a repaint. The original cowl has a broken tab that is unseen. I am willing to include this with the sale of the motorcycle.

More from the seller:
The following has been done on the motorcycle…
The brake system has been cleaned/flushed
The master cylinder and the rear master cylinder have been cleaned and rebuilt
The fuel injection has been cleaned and checked
New plugs
New pump propeller
Oil Change
New after market fuel pump (original is still available if desired)
New windscreen

The motorcycle starts and runs. Here is a link to the youtube video – https://youtu.be/MTjRL9s4bkk

I am not a videographer…lol so I apologize in advance and hope no one gets dizzy. My intention was to show how nice the motorcycle sounds.

Not to mince words, the turbo motorcycle era was an utter commercial failure. Each of the Big Four played with the devil of boost, and every one of them was an atrocious and abysmal return on the considerable investment required. Suzuki used their experience to develop the original air/oil cooled GSX-R, Kawasaki used the opportunity to elevate the GPz to the top of the 1/4 mile time sheets, Yamaha phoned in an low-buck entry branded as a Seca, and Honda dumped a significant portion of their inventory on “technical schools” in an attempt to recoup their investment and train the next generation on Big Red products.

Todays example of the CX650 Turbo – a one year only model for 1983 – is one of those previously dreaded “school” bikes. These were examples meant to train future mechanics on the complex systems of the modern motorcycle, and were never intended for consumer consumption (check out the sticker on the tank). While each had a VIN number, none were released with a title, and each of these bikes were written off as crushed, destroyed or otherwise parted out. Very recently we have started to see an influx of these school bikes as more rare than the average CX650 Turbo, which may indeed be true. It is still early days to determine the impact this may have on the collector, as Turbos are still not really considered collector bikes (yet). However the price curve is on the rise and we have seen some high water marks eclipsed in the last year or so. This one has an opening bid of a relatively high $18k, so it will be interesting to see how the market responds. Check out all of the details here, and Good Luck!!

MI

11 Comments

  • Haven’t we seen this bike before?

  • Hi Vincent – we have seen a couple of Turbos come through lately, including another “school” bike. But looking through 10 years of archives I have not found this particular example (please send a link if I’m wrong!). It is interesting that we are seeing more of the school bikes surfacing as of late.

    -Mike

  • Thanks for the clarification, Mike. It would be interesting to know how many units were actually donated to schools. Certainly a much better option than sending them to the crusher!

  • Not sure why it states 1984. CX 500 Turbos are from 1982 and the CX650 Turbos from 1983. I owned 4 of them and just sold #530 via BringAtrailer to the Audrain auto collection.

  • Way overpriced. Still zero bids, not surprising. For that kind of cash I would think the bike should look like it came out of the Barber Collection.

  • The zero miles has no significance when it’s beat up like that one. He’ll catch no fish with that bait.

  • @Vincent: It is estimated that approximately 500 units were donated to vocational / tech schools rather than destroy them.

    @Alexander: You are correct that these one-year-only models were 1982 and 1983 for the CX500T and CX650T respectively. Often times state or local licensing will list the model year as the year in which it was sold or titled, which can sometimes explain the discrepancy. That cannot be what happened here (no title), although the school bikes were donated in ’84. In this case I went with the seller’s words without calling it out. Thank you for the clarification and for keeping us honest and accurate! 🙂

    -Mike

  • This bike has been relisted at a substantially lower opening ask ($12k). My gut says that is still a little bit high for a school bike with some damage, but you cannot deny the low miles. Links updated and model year corrected as per seller’s updated text. Let’s see if there is interest!

    -Mike

  • This bike was listed last month a couple of times at $14k with no action.

  • I suspect we will continue to see the opening ask drop until a bid has been made. Even at the current level this is above what we might expect for this model in this condition, despite the mileage. The lack of title certainly has an impact.

    – Mike

  • Absolutely no desire to own one, but a ride on one is a bucketlist item. I owned a 500 turbo. That thing worked fine as it was designed by the factory. Functionally it was a mess. Did not stop for anything. I did get to ride more than one different 500. All perfomed the same in that dept. As to the engine, It has eaten my brain forever wanting to know how effective the redesign was. Still gnaws at my soul. Would be glad to pay $100 for 20 minutes on one.

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