1973 Kawasaki Z-1


The 1973 Kawasaki Z-1 represented Kawasaki's effort to keep up with Honda. See more motorcycle pictures.

The 1973 Kawasaki Z-1 motorcycle was the notable outcome of Kawasaki's mad dash to match the introduction of the landmark Honda CB750 in 1969.

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Kawasaki had made its mark in the U.S. with its fast but frightening two-stroke triples, but Honda's success with its more civilized CB750 Four did not go unnoticed.

The market was beginning to lean away from two-strokes in general, and Kawasaki wanted to maintain its performance image while offering a more roadable four-stroke machine.

Introduced in 1973, the Z-1 boasted a 903-cc double-overhead-cam inline four that significantly upped the performance ante. That engine soon became the benchmark other companies would aim to beat, and it proved to be a bulletproof design that continued as a dominant force in racing circles for years.

In contrast to the strong-running powerplant, however, the chassis of the Z-1 was notoriously unstable. Several aftermarket manufacturers quickly devised more competent frame designs that could be filled with Z-1 power.

No color options were offered for the U.S. market: All Z-1s were painted brown with orange accents. Not considered a particularly appealing combination at the time, many early Z-1s received custom paint treatments shortly after leaving the showroom.

Keep reading for more pictures of the 1973 Kawasaki Z-1 motorcycle.

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1973 Kawasaki Z-1 Pictures

All Kawasaki Z-1s came from the factory in a brown-and-orange color scheme.
All Kawasaki Z-1s came from the factory in a brown-and-orange color scheme.

The 1973 Kawasaki Z-1 was notable for its high horsepower and state-of-the-art engine, but the chassis wasn't up to the powerplant's standards.

The Z-1's double-overhead-cam engine produced 82 horsepower, 15 more than Honda's rival four.
The Z-1's tachometer, on the right, shows a 9000-rpm redline, considered stratospheric for an early-1970s street bike.
The Z-1's advanced 900-cc twin-cam four was more docile and forgiving than Kawasaki's earlier two-stroke engines.

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