Japan probably has the most diverse custom motorcycle culture in the world. They like monkey bikes and mopeds and 110-cubic-inch Harleys and everything in between. And nothing is immune from the touch of the angle grinder, or the hiss of the metalflake spray gun. But there are a few companies that eschew this excess, and AC Sanctuary is one of them. Headquartered in Tokyo, it’s a chain of workshops that specializes in the retro superbikes of the 1970s—and Kawasakis in particular.
This Kawasaki Z1 is the company’s latest creation, and it’ll set you back a dizzying $37,700 after taxes. So what do you get for that money? Using a stock early 70s Z1 as the starting point, Sanctuary rebuilds and bores out the motor, fitting 1.5mm wider pistons to boost capacity from 903 to 944cc. The frame is then reinforced—it was never a strong point on the original Z1s—and beefier front forks from a Yamaha XJR-1200 are installed. The wheels are 17” magnesium Dymag H3s, worth over $3,000 alone. The brakes are uprated with Sumitomo calipers and a Nissin master cylinder, and the Z1 is liberally sprinkled with Nitro Racing parts—including a new exhaust system, hydraulic clutch and rearsets. A Mikuni TMR 36 handles carburetion duties, and a 13-inch oil cooler keeps temperatures under control. The rest of the bike is restored to beyond showroom condition, but with the nose-down high-tail stance that’s popular in Japan at the moment.
The original bike was quick enough, with 82bhp on tap, but this Kawasaki Z1 will have considerably more—plus the suspension dynamics and braking capacity to handle the extra power. I’m not sure if it’s worth $37,000, but it’s a beautiful thing. And if I had the money to spare, as many well-heeled Japanese bike enthusiasts have, I’d love to have one in my garage. Wouldn’t you?