IF YOU grew up in the 1970s, your favourite bikes are very likely from Japan and almost as likely to be wearing the badge of a Honda. We visited the wonderful shed of an ex-pat Kiwi who now lives in Western Australia and is creating his own dream collection.


IT’S DIFFICULT to choose a favourite bike from a collection in which every one is a masterpiece and every one has a story to tell.

Some of the bikes in this shed are well-established classics — icons of that era between the late ’60s and the mid-’70s when the Japanese juggernaut conquered the motorcycle world, rolling out a seemingly endless run of magnificent bikes from 50cc minis to four-cylinder super-bikes and everything in between.

Others here are less well known — machines that might not fit the definition of ‘icon’ but which own an important place in the bike story of the man who has collected them.

The man who has built — is still building — this collection was right in the thick of that Japanese motorcycle boom back in the early 1970s. Apprenticed to a bike shop in Dunedin, New  Zealand, he had a job that must have been the envy of many of his young mates: uncrating and assembling new bikes out of Japan — like Honda’s first-series grey-tank XR75s, orange XL175s, green-tank Honda Elsinores and silver-and-black XL250 Motorsports.

BIKES FOR SALE adverts start at just $12 for 12 weeks! (Australian bikes only, and must be ‘something special’.)

‘Wouldn’t it be great to have all of them’, the 16-year-old Nev undoubtedly would have thought to himself.

And here we are, 45-odd years later, and Nev does have them all. Well, most of them.

“Yes, I’ve still got a wish list,” Nev told us. “But I’ll need to make more room first.”

CAPTION: Nev’s wish list.

We’re not going to tell you Nev’s surname, nor where he lives. (His shed has some pretty slick security in place, but he’s understandably not keen to put it to the test.)

But we can tell you he never finished his apprenticeship as a motorcycle mechanic. After a falling out with his boss, he found himself in a totally different line of work; boot-making.

Over the years he progressed from the factory floor to the boardroom, enjoying a career that ended relatively early when he decided at the age of 53 that he could afford to slow down — and put more energy into restoring and collecting classic bikes and cars.

That was 11 years ago. Today, his collection numbers about 40 bikes and maybe a dozen cars – mostly in outstanding condition, some of them concourse.

Some of them were pristine when Nev bought them but, despite never finishing that apprenticeship, Nev is plenty handy enough with the tools to enjoy the challenge of a refresh or a full-blown rebuild.

The day we visited there were several projects underway in the workshop area of his cavernous shed; bikes that were not yet ready to take the roll around the corner into the showroom.

 “Each bike gets a name before it goes around the corner,” Nev says “and that name goes on the tank. It’s a ritual, I guess, that says the restoration work is done and the bike is good enough to go on show.”

Nev took us and the old Nikon for a tour.

Here’s some of what we saw.

CAPTION: Many a love affair with motorcycling started right here: a first series (K0) Honda XR75. Like so many of Nev’s bikes, this one looked brand new.
CAPTION: Stunning XL250 Motorsport.


CAPTION: Not every bike in the shed is from Japan and the 1970s. This is #19 of 300 Triumph Metisse 650 replicas, circa 1966.
CAPTION: The first XL175s were orange. Blue tanks came later.
CAPTION: We didn’t see many Hodakas in Australia, but they were big time in the United States. The company was a joint venture between America and Japan and specialised in small two-stroke dirt bikes. Nev found this Dirt Quirt in Tasmania. Hodaka built 150,000 bikes before closing the doors in 1978.
CAPTION: Before becoming a global force in the world of tyres, Bridgestone was a Japanese motorcycle manufacturer. Nev has a pair of them; the red one’s a 175, the white one’s a 90. “Japan’s big four bike makers — Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki — supposedly encouraged Bridgestone to stick with tyres,” Nev says. “They told Bridgestone management that if they gave up on bikes, the other manufacturers would buy their tyres. And that’s what happened — or so they say.”

CAPTION: Superb examples of perhaps the three most collectible machines from Kawasaki — a 500 and 750 triple two-stroke and a 1973 Z1 900.
CAPTION: Nev had great trouble sourcing the right paint for the restoration of this GT750 Suzuki — until a friend (another collector) learned of his problem and produced a brand new tank from his collection of NOS spare parts. As you do.

CAPTION: Nev’s YZ Yamaha collection was originally limited to bikes from the ’70s, but when Yamaha released tribute models with livery harking back to the golden years (remember Bob Hannah?) he had to have one. Or two. In case you’re too young to remember, those canisters atop the forks on the ’76 125 are air-chambers. Air forks were cutting edge back then …
CAPTION: So what happens when you get worn out from working on bikes? You wander upstairs to the loft, and the bar. Nice.
CAPTION: Seriously big Scalextric race car set in the loft. There’s a bigger one on the way!
CAPTION: There is a chap in San Francisco by the name of Vic World who has made a career out of finding, buying, restoring and selling the very first Honda 750 Fours. As good Honda buffs know, the first batch of 7,414 CB750s came with sand-cast cases, after which they were die-cast. As the years rolled by, collectors started to recognise the collectibility of those first 7,414 bikes. Mr World was one of them and, in the 1980s, he started collecting not only bikes but whole collections of parts — including many (many, many) NOS parts from Honda dealers who didn’t want them cluttering up their shelves. Mr World now sells restored bikes and genuine early-number parts, servicing a very select global community of sand-cast CB750 owners. Yes, you guessed it — Nev is one of those people and this is one of those bikes; virtually a brand new sand-cast 750/4 built from NOS parts. Wow. We opened this article pondering which bike in Nev’s collection would be our favourite. This is it. (You can read more about Vic World here, and read about one of the very, very first CB750s that sold recently at auction in the USA for more than $AU150,000 here.)


Further reading


Toad’s collection

Ian’s Vincents

The Barber museum, USA


Peter Terlick

5 thoughts on “Masterpieces — the time warp shed of Nev, child of the ’70s, and the bikes of his life

  1. I brought two new 750 Honda Fours in the seventies, a Cherry Red one and a Gold one. I also had a CB250, 350XL. I rode the XL 7000km from Vic through NSW, SA, Qld, NT and back to Vic, mainly on the outback dirt roads and tracks in 1974.

    1. Sorry Peter — no, it’s not open for tours. You’ll just have to enjoy the photos .. 🙂

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