Kawasaki celebrates Z1 and first 40 years of Z series

Kawasaki Z1Revealed to a stunned European motorcycle audience at the 1972 IFMA motorcycle show in Cologne, the impact and significance of the Kawasaki Z1 cannot be underestimated.

Marking the emergence of Kawasaki into the large capacity four-stroke multi-cylinder market, the Z1, and its many subsequent incarnations, proved fundamental in establishing the Japanese manufacturer’s reputation for “bullet proof” precision engineering that lasts to this day.

As the first motorcycle in a revered forty year history of Z models, the 903cc Z1 has become a motorcycling icon and, for many enthusiasts and industry experts, a machine of great historical significance.

Combining advanced technical features and what has become recognised as a timeless design, the Z1 is one of the most coveted collector’s machines in the world of motorcycling.

Inspirational and innovative, the four-cylinder, across the frame four-stroke sports tourer led to an array of further successful Z machines and acted as technical and design inspiration for many subsequent Kawasaki models in the Z line including the current Z750R and streetfighter style Z1000.

Hugely influential in the overall styling approach to the first water-cooled Z1000 which was launched in 2003, many Z1 design elements – such as the four pipe style exhaust layout and distinctive tail cowling – were carried over from the original machine created by Kawasaki designer Gyoichi “Ben” Inamura and his team of enthusiastic KHI engineers in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Z model line, and the 1972 European debut of the iconic Z1, Kawasaki is planning a range of activities during the course of 2012 culminating in a display of Z machines at the German motorcycle fair (INTERMOT) in October.

With an enthusiasm for Kawasaki that spans forty years of motorcycling, 60 year old Franz Volkman of Speyer, Germany, represents one of the elite group of purchasers who bought a brand new machine when they became available in Europe in the early 1970’s.

“I first saw the 900 Z1 at the IFMA motorcycle show in Cologne in September 1972 and instantly wanted it and ordered one right away. It was one of the first delivered in March 1973 and I asked my Kawasaki dealer to give me a ring when the crate was delivered, He rang me at work when it arrived and I took the rest of the day off!

What was so amazing about the Z1? Besides its great design, it was all about power. The powerful engine with a claimed 82 horsepower made it the strongest bike in the market. Nothing came close to the Z1. Everything on the Z1 felt right, as if each and every part was designed and crafted by engineers.”

For Kawasaki Europe, Managing Director, Mr Yasushi Kawakami, hoped that the celebration would be enjoyed by all those interested in Z motorcycles saying: “Kawasaki appreciates that our customers are as interested in our heritage as much as they enjoy current machines and we all look forward, with excitement, to the future.

In highlighting forty years of the Z brand, Kawasaki wants to celebrate alongside past, current and future owners. With such a loyal following, we are sure that there will be considerable interest in this significant anniversary.”

In the UK, fans of the Z series will get a chance to see a variety of pristine examples of the Z1 and other machines from forty years of the Z line at the Ace Café Kawasaki day on Sunday 22 April.

Speaking about the annual event, Communications and PR Manager for Kawasaki Motors UK, Martin Lambert, explained that the day would be a good example of cooperation between Kawasaki and Z owners. “The Z1 Owners Club will be at the Ace Café showing examples of many of the iterations of the famous Z models from the early 1970’s onwards.

Likewise, we hope to see the owners of a whole range of Z machines from the awesome Z1300 to Eddie Lawson replicas and today’s streetfighter styled Z750R and Z1000. It’s a free day out and the atmosphere on Kawasaki day at the Ace Café is always very special, this Z40 celebration on 22 April will make it even more so.”