The Česká Zbrojovka company started as a firearm producer before manufacturing motorcycles in 1935. Better known as CZ, the Czech brand dominated in motocross and enduro events from the 1960s until the early ‘80s. With six consecutive Grand Prix world championships and 15 International Six Days Enduro titles to its credit, CZ was a formidable force in off-road racing for three decades.
At the height of the company’s popularity, the CZ "Coffin Tank” 400cc motocrosser was a potent race machine of the day. Weighing just seven pounds over its 350cc counterpart, the two-stroke, air-cooled single more than made up for the weight gain with 47 horsepower. The sharp-handling CZ also helped racers navigate the tricky terrain, but only experienced riders could fully take advantage of the bike’s agility.
Many riders stood by CZ’s durability and reliability as well. Elsinore Grand Prix winner John DeSoto characterized the Czech motocrossers as bulletproof, especially the gearboxes, which he performed clutch-less shifts on even from a stop. MX World Champion Brad Lackey also stood by the brand’s reliability, stating that he only adjusted the chain and swapped the air filter before each race.
That durability seems to extend to this CZ “Coffin Tank” 400cc for auction at Mecum’s Las Vegas 2021 event from April 28 through May 1, 2021. Still in its original crate and wax paper, the CZ is still in the same condition as when it entered the port of New York in 1973. Locating and purchasing an original CZ isn’t an easy task, let alone a 1973 crated “Coffin Tank”.
Whether the buyer rides, restores, or lets the CZ’s patina shine, it would be a definitive addition to any collection. Those interested can find more details at Mecum Auctions, but an opportunity to buy one of Czechoslovakia’s finest motorcycles doesn’t come along very often.