The year is 1964, the location is the Assen circuit in the Netherlands and, after a gruelling one hour and 10 minutes of competition, two of the biggest stars in motorcycle racing are neck and neck on the home straight at the end of the 250cc Grand Prix: one is Phil Read, flat on the tank of a Yamaha two-stroke that screams like a banshee; the other is Jim Redman on a four-stroke Honda, its four tiny exhaust-pipes emitting a melodious drone.
The winner, by a fraction of a second, is Redman, a straight-talking Londoner who went on to become the one and only motorcycle racer to win three GP races on the same day by also taking the chequered flag in the 125cc and 350cc classes.
For Redman, however, it was the 250cc race that meant the most. Even now, he describes it as "the ride of his life". Such was the significance of the event that, at the end of the season when all the Honda race bikes were due to be shipped back to Japan, he asked team manager "Poppa" San if he might be allowed to keep the bike.
Such a thing was previously unheard of, but on this occasion the Honda bosses relented and the RC164-1 was crated up and shipped to Redman's home in South Africa, where it remained, still in its box, for more than 30 years.
On 22 October, however, it is set to make motorcycling history again when it comes under the hammer at Bonhams, where it is tipped to fetch at least £375,000. That would shatter the record for a motorcycle of about £200,000, which was paid at Coys in 1997 for an ex-Mike Hailwood Honda RC173.
The Redman machine is expected to attract such a huge price because, as far as the world's top-end collectors are concerned, it ticks all the vital boxes in terms of race history, provenance and originality.
For a start, 1964 is regarded as a golden era of motorcycle racing. It was the year Honda proved, beyond doubt, that it was a force to be reckoned with in racing. Further value is added by the fact that the machine has been in Redman's continuous ownership since the end of the 1964 season. Perhaps most important, it is the only surviving RC-164 that still has its original frame and engine. Of the two others made, one was crashed and the second had its engine removed for use in another bike.
Redman is now 75 years old, but he recalls the 1964 season, and his race to victory at Assen in particular, as clearly if it were yesterday. "The 250cc RC164 was only intended as a temporary measure, a stand-in, until the six-cylinder machines were ready. But I ended up using it exclusively for most of the year and only changed to the six in time for the end of the season. At Assen, this bike gave me what I can only describe as the ride of my life.
"At the time, Honda had the edge in terms of reliability but Phil Read's two-stroke Yamaha was clocked down the straight at Assen at a good 15kph faster, so I knew that the only way to beat him was in the corners, and in the end it proved to be the last two corners that did it.
"When I pulled in after winning the race, I told the mechanics that the engine was probably finished, because in order to cross the line in front of Phil I couldn't afford to change gear. The red line was at 13,700 rpm, but I took the chequered flag with the needle jammed on the stop at 18,000, which meant it was probably touching 20,000 - if I'd changed up, I'd have lost.
"The engine was subsequently stripped back in Japan where everything was tested and checked in minute detail - and it was all found to be perfect. When specialists rebuild these bikes nowadays, they still can't believe that engineering of such high quality could have been possible all those years ago," says Redman.
His Assen heroics, however, could not prevent Read winning that 1964 250cc championship with 46 points against Redman's 42, in second place.
Redman kept the RC-164 in its crate for decades, only breaking it out during the 1990s when he displayed it in the foyer of his 2,000-acre Sierra Ranch holiday resort. In 1998, he was persuaded by a leading motorcycle collector to take the bike to Europe and parade it at various revival events. It has since been treated to a light, cosmetic restoration and, two years ago, its engine was fully rebuilt.
Redman's hope is that the bike will be sold to an enthusiast who will give it regular outings on the circuits of Europe, not least so that Redman himself might be invited to ride it. "If someone in Europe buys it, or maybe even Honda itself, there's a good chance that I'll get to ride it, which would be wonderful. I will miss it, but there is no real reason for me to keep it - and I'm sure the wrench will be made up for by the money!"
Honda RC164-1 will be offered for sale by Bonhams at the Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show in Stafford on 22 October 22, with a pre-sale estimate 'in excess of £375,000'. Redman will attend the sale. More information from Bonhams motorcycle specialist Ben Walker on 08700 273 606 or Malcolm Barber in the United States on 001 415 503 3203Reuse content