Saved from the Scrap Yard
By Lee Meyer
I have found myself in a very sad situation. The situation of being bikeless. Very pathetic indeed. A house purchase and a bunch of stuff to put in the house led me to a forced sale of my Suzy TL1000R, which I had owned only seven months or so. Bummer. Unfortunately my financial status hasn’t recovered enough just yet to buy a new GSX1300R Hayabusa. So, I’ve been looking for a new steed–but one of an older year for very little cash.
I had my eye on this really cool ’85 Suzy GS1150ES, the last of the muscle bikes, for about $2,500. This is a really decent price but still more than my skinny wallet can handle. What I need is a junk pile–cheap. I could swing maybe a thousand bucks, enough to get a pretty serious beater or fixer.
After a couple of months of looking about, something kinda fell in my lap. A really crappy looking ’82 Kawi GPZ1100 was taken in on trade at my workplace. They had planned on selling it to some scrap yard guy, but the sales manager agreed to sell it to me for the same price. After tax and license fees the grand total was $607.
As you could imagine, the old GPZ was pretty sweet. Obviously not run in years, it was covered with dirt and dust. For all I knew the engine was blown up or seized. The battery was stone dead, chain nearly dragging on the ground. The right front winker and mirror were busted and many of the non-painted steel parts were rusty. Oh, and the front brakes were locked up. The odometer showed 26,000 miles or so. You’re probably thinking I’m some kind of dumb-ass for wasting six hundo on this non-running heap. I am taking a gamble but I don’t think I’ll be shooting craps on this one.
Here’s the deal–the GPZ1100 engine is a pretty tough bird to kill. Pro drag racers rarely wreck ’em. Chances are good that the engine is fine, full of spiders maybe. The biggest possible problem will be in the fuel injection system. The GPZ1100’s were sans carburetors. The ’80 and ’81 KZ and GPZs with injection had a pretty lame system prone to an abundance of problems. This ’82 was better, not superb like today’s bikes, but still better than the first design.
The good things about this bike are the fact that it is very complete and totally stock but for the rusty 4 into 1 pipe of unknown origin. Also, the inside of the tank isn’t rusty and the gas doesn’t totally stink like old paint.
First plan of attack was just to see if the old beast would fire up. Since the tank was empty I added a few gallons of fresh premium gas and a can of some kind of weirdness called ring-free (apparently enough to treat 20 gallons, whatever). I hooked up a jumper battery and sprayed a bunch of carb cleaner in the airbox to add a bit more flammability to the mix. I turned the ignition on and the old beast lit up. The gauge lighting worked and the electronic diagnostic system went through its sequence fine. The fuel pump also worked. So far so good.
I hit the starter button and after a few cranks it roared to life and revved to 4,000 rpm where it seemed it was gonna idle for now. Good, it runs at least. The fuel injection system obviously needs some work, it also needs a chain and front brake work, etc.
Here is the plan: Fix this old GPZ up mechanically and cosmetically on the cheap. I’m going to try and stick to the original budget for a thousand bucks–including purchase price. Hopefully it will be a very reliable ride to tide me over until I can someday buy another new bike. If I can get it to run really good maybe I’ll just skip that new bike altogether. I’ve got work to do.
See ya next month,