Mike Buttinger, founder and owner of the leading global supplier of Japanese motorcycle parts CMSNL, has recreated a Honda RC142- the first Honda motorcycle to compete in the TT Races back in 1959.
Working with his good friends and motorcycle builders Marnix Deibert and Sebas Van De Broek, Buttinger has rebuilt a complete RC142 from only an engine, fuel tank, swingarm, wheel hubs, and an assortment of smaller components. Leaving Deibert and Van De Broek with the sizeable task of recreating the frame, suspension, aluminium fairing, and a significant number of smaller components entirely by hand. Combining their fine craftsmanship with fastidious research, the team has produced a perfect 17.4hp, four-valve, 125cc racer that is not a ‘replica’, but a recreation.
As a Honda enthusiast and expert, Mr. Buttinger felt responsible to restore this piece of motorcycling history with as much care and craftmanship as the machines received when they were developed and supplied by Honda in 1959.
Entered in the 125cc Lightweight TT Race, the nine-man team featured four Japanese riders and one from America, with the group from the little-known company staying at the Nursery Hotel in Onchan.
The race was to be held over ten laps of the 10.79-mile Clypse Course, which the riders learned by riding around on borrowed Benly CB92s. A number of the Japanese riders had never ridden on tarmac before, only dirt, whilst their helmets failed to meet the standards set by the ACU.
With its aluminium fairing and out-of-date bottom-link front suspension, the RC142 was derided by many who saw it that year. Concern also came from within the team, as team leader Kiyoshi Kawashima San had concerns about the frame rigidity and brake performance.
Many observers expected both efficiency and performance of the RC142 to be low but whilst American Bill Hunt fell from the race, the other four machines and riders performed impeccably, with only a broken rear brake rod pin causing an issue.
Tarquinio Provini won the race on the MV Agusta, but it was a landmark day for Honda. Naomi Taniguchi won a Silver Replica with a sixth place finish, and with Giichi Suzuki seventh, Teisuke Tanaka eighth and Junzo Suzuki in tenth, the team won the Constructor’s Prize.
Honda returned in 1960 with an improved machine and hired riders such as Jim Redman and Tom Phillis, who then won the 125cc World Championship just one year later.
The rest is history, but the part played by the nine-man team and the RC142 in 1959 cannot be underestimated, as it was here where the Japanese invasion began. Its appearance at this year’s Classic TT presented by Bennetts is sure to be one of the highlights of the event and a fitting tribute to Soichiro Honda San, thanks to the vision and drive of Mike Buttinger and the group of Honda enthusiasts who have worked together to realise this project.
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