When most folks think of Evel Knievel's motorcycle, they envision the daredevil’s iconic star-spangled Harley-Davidson XR750. Color-coordinated with his famous Stars and Stripes jumpsuit, the custom Hog practically completes the Evel Knievel persona. However, Robert Craig Knievel was an adamant moto enthusiast well beyond his ostentatious stunt spectacles.
As proof, Knievel opened Washington’s Lake Moses Honda dealership in 1965. During this time, Japanese imports received backlash from domestic manufacturers and consumers alike. So, to promote business, Knievel attempted the first stunt of his career, jumping a crate of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions on a 250cc Honda scrambler.
The amateur stuntman’s effort went unrewarded, though, with struggling sales ultimately forcing him to close up shop. Still, Knievel’s affinity for Hondas never wavered. In 1979, he purchased a brand-new Honda CBX. The revolutionary model featured a 24-valve, 1,047cc inline-six engine producing 105 horsepower. That figure crowned the CBX as the fastest production motorcycle of its time.
Knievel may be synonymous with record-setting feats of daring, but his 1979 Honda CBX recently made history on the auction block. Selling for $49,500, the well-kempt CBX tied the model’s action price record during Mecum’s Las Vegas 2023 Vintage and Antique Motorcycle Auction.
Among the approximately 24,000 models produced by Honda in 1979, Knievel’s example bares a very low serial number of 449. The five-spoke Comstar wheels also set the model year apart from subsequent CBXs. The showman couldn’t help but customize the Honda, however. A custom 6-into-6 megaphone exhaust and a raised white Goodyear letting on the rear tire set this CBX apart.
The sold unit not only included the factory owner's manual but also came with a copy of the original Evel Knievel Experimental Research Inc. title and handwritten maintenance records. Most folks may envision Evel Knievel as a swashbuckling daredevil, but his record-tying 1979 Honda CBX proved the iconic stuntman was more than just a persona.