When Kawasaki pulled the covers off the GPZ1100 in 1981, it brought forth one of the most powerful and fastest super bikes in the world at the time. It featured a 1,089cc inline-four engine pumping out around 105 horsepower out of the box. Needless to say, this bike was on the top of the mountain when it came to performance at the time. However, for one German chassis designer, it just wasn’t enough.
You could definitely say that Manfred Rau was a genius when it came to two-wheeled performance. Rising to fame at a rather young age, Rau was best known for his race-spec motorcycle frames mated to Japanese powerplants and top-shelf braking and suspension components. Bikes like the Honda CB750 and yes, the GPZ1100 all went under Rau’s microscope and came out lighter, faster, and more powerful than ever before. One such bike is the machine in question today—a Rau Kawasaki GPZ1100 listed for auction at Artcurial.
You see, Manfred Rau’s idea of performance was well ahead of its time. When the GPZ1100 first came out, it tipped the scales in excess of 550 pounds—way too heavy for a superbike that was supposed to be as sharp in the corners as it was fast. With that, Rau put the bike on a diet and constructed a tubular steel backbone frame that used the engine as a stressed member. Common practice for today, this was considered ahead of its time in the ‘80s, and resulted in the bike being lighter and even more rigid. Furthermore, he integrated Marzocchi suspension up front and Öhlins components at the back, for even better handling.
When it comes to outright firepower, Rau wanted the GPZ1100 to have even more power—40 percent more than stock, to be precise. So, he did just that. With the help of four Keihin carburetors and other tweaks to the engine, performance is said to have been bumped up to 143 horsepower—impressive even to today’s standards.
Engine aside, this bike’s most defining feature continues to be its chassis. Not only is it something that was an engineering masterpiece at the time, but also a legacy of a massively underrated chassis designer who took inspiration from the likes of Fritz Egli and Bimota. It’s a shame, really, as a Google search of Manfred Rau brings up hardly anything but a few blog posts about his creations. He no longer is around to replicate his previous creations, either, as he passed away in 1991 at the young age of just 48.
Artcurial states that the price for the rare Rau Kawasaki GPZ1100 is expected to fetch somewhere between 25,000 to 35,000 Euros, or around $28,000 to $40,000 USD. For more information about this bike, as well as contact information on how to place a bid, visit Artcurial’s listing for this bike in the link below. Bidding is set to take place live, online, and over the phone on March 19, 2022.