1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110

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Lot 251
1925 Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project
Registration no. PP 5026 Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110

Sold for £ 32,200 (US$ 42,965) inc. premium
1925 Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project
Registration no. PP 5026
Frame no. 9650
Engine no. GT/T 49110
• Rare Vintage-era Zenith v-twin
• Off the road for many years
• Offered for restoration

Zenith motorcycles were manufactured from 1904 until 1950 in a variety of factories in or around London. From the early days proprietary engines were used, such as Fafnir, Precision, JAP, Bradshaw and Villiers. The driving force behind Zenith was Chief Engineer, and company owner, Frederick Barnes, who was responsible for the famous 'Gradua' gear. Worked by a hand-wheel or crank handle, the Gradua mechanism varied the diameter of the engine pulley while simultaneously sliding the rear wheel back and forth in the fork slots, thus maintaining correct belt tension. Its advantages showed most effectively in speed hill climbs, and in pre-WW1 days Zenith machines gained many successes as the Zenith rider could change gear during the ascent while the other competitors had to make do with a single choice of ratio. Rival riders and manufacturers thought that this was an unfair advantage so many leading clubs excluded Zeniths from their hill climbs. Zenith was quick to recognise the publicity value and took the word 'Barred' as their trademark.

Although the expensive Gradua system gave way to a more conventional Sturmey-Archer countershaft gearbox in the 1920s, Zenith continued to pursue its racing and record breaking activities with enthusiasm. Fred Barnes himself enjoyed considerable success at Brooklands, where in 1922 Zenith rider Bert Le Vack became the first man to lap at over 100mph on a motorcycle – in the rain. In 1928 a Zenith-JAP ridden by Oliver Baldwin established a world motorcycle speed record of 124.62mph at Arpajon in France, while Joe Wright later raised the record to 150.736mph using his supercharged Zenith-JAP 'reserve bike', his favoured OEC having succumbed to mechanical problems. Significantly, when Wright's record was set in 1930 the company was temporarily out of business.

Despite adding a Villiers-powered economy model to the range, Zenith failed to weather the financial storms of the early '30s. After a succession of closures and changes of ownership it re-emerged after WW2 with a solitary model: a 750cc JAP-powered sidevalve v-twin, which lasted only a few more years.

Dating from Zenith's Vintage-era heyday and finished in the marque's distinctive purple and black livery, this JAP sidevalve-engined Zenith 6-80 appears un-restored and almost certainly has not been touched for some considerable time. The attached tax disc expired in June 1942 and the accompanying old-style continuation logbook (issued that same year) records licensing up to 31st December 1943. A 1926 model, the Zenith was first registered in Buckinghamshire in October 1925. Acquired for the collection in 1991, this wonderful 'barn find' appears to be totally original and complete, and should, despite its somewhat distressed condition, be a relatively straightforward restoration for the experienced practitioner. Noteworthy features include an acetylene lighting set, leather-fronted panniers and a Cowey '60mph' speedometer. The machine is offered with the aforementioned old-style logbook, copy old V5 and a V5C registration document. A most exciting and rewarding project.
Contacts
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
1925  Zenith-JAP 678cc Model 6-80 Project Frame no. 9650 Engine no. GT/T 49110
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