The phone rings constantly, the bell that announces another customer has broken the electronic beam through the open garage door that opens onto Hyde Park Street dings only slightly less frequently. One guy really wants that Sportster with the twin flatslides but first feels the need to lay out his qualifications to Yoshi by listing all the other vehicles he’s ever owned. Another guy needs a part for his CB750. Many cool characters who look vaguely familiar from movies and half-remembered MTV videos saunter in under ironic hats behind cool shades.
Yoshi smiles through it all. If turning what you love into a business has a downside, there’s not much evidence of it here. His wife, whose idea it was originally to move Yoshi’s hobby into bigger headquarters than their suburban garage, flits in and out of the back office, also always with a smile. If you need a thing for your motorcycle, pretty much any motorcycle, Yoshi’s either got it or knows where to get it. And if you need your CBX tuned up or a completely custom bike built, feel free to wander into the huge shop that can also handle that. If you live in SoCal you’re in luck. If you have a little layover at LAX, it’s about a $10 taxi ride to Garage Company, and you can swing by Randy’s Donuts too.
10. BMW R69 Chopper
Was I not just conjecturing the other day why there aren’t more BMW choppers? Here’s a beauty, complete with plunger shocks and springer front end. Naturally, with every natural and unnatural color scheme in nature homologated for chopper use, the BMW man paints his a tasteful brown. I didn’t see a price tag on this one, but something tells me you could drive a hard bargain. Then you could probably ride it to Argentina if this one’s anything like every other old Airhead.
9. Yamaha Two-Smoker?
Smoking is passe, but you still wouldn’t mind being seen in public puffing away on an unmolested RZ500 would you? Can you even license one of these in California? Is smoking permitted on the patio? Even in 1985, you would’ve had to smuggle it across the border. Behind it is an equally perfect RZ350 KR Special.
8. Grimeca reverse-spinning brake disc assembly!
One of the rarest old pieces of cr– I mean, one of the coolest deals in the shop is this fork/brake assembly that spins the brake disc the opposite direction of the wheel. Why? To cancel out the front wheel’s gyroscopic force when it’s time to turn, of course. Somebody at Grimeca must’ve had a lot of time on their hands in the ’60s. These were seen on some MV Agustas and other exotic race bikes, but apparently weren’t effective enough to warrant the added complexity/weight/expense. Would be very hip today with counter-rotating LEDs, maybe on your BMW chopper? Maybe not.
Meanwhile, over at Campagnolo, did you know they were making disc brake systems for motorcycles? They’re not inexpensive today, but Yoshi has them.
7. Parilla tachometers and other arcane accessories …
What’s that, you need a tachometer for your Parilla Wildcat? Of course we have several in stock. Excuse me? Silver glitter grips? Yes, how many sets do you need?
6. Rat Fink and other objets de nightmare
Rat Fink, Wacky Packages, Richard Nixon – who, that was a child of the era, can forget the unpleasant side effects of Vietnam? Rat Fink was an offshoot of the fertile mind of Big Daddy Ed Roth, who was quite the vehicular customizer. Just seeing this stuff gave me Kool-Aid flashbacks.
Other ’60s nightmares would involve having your head trapped in this Porsche Design helmet, or even worse, the first Bell Star with fixed faceshield. My boss at my first fast-food job wobbled in on many chilly mornings on his very cool Suzuki GT380, completely fogged up and flying blind: Safety first!
5. Practical Motorcycles to ride every day
Eight gees for an original ’97 916 doesn’t seem too out of line, does it? It’s hard to believe this design is 20 years old. So, I won’t believe it. I was there, man, when they rolled the first one off the elevator onto the 17th floor at the old Petersen Publishing building on Wilshire Boulevard.
4. Yoshi’s own Metisse Triumph
As if he doesn’t have enough to do, Yoshi also finds time every April to organize the Corsa Motoclassica at Willow Springs. In conjunction with the American Hysterical Racing Motorcycle Association, it’s become a big deal and a lot of fun watching Old World antiques deal with “the Fastest Road in the West” in the middle of the Mojave. Yoshi’s Metisse-framed hot-rod Triumph, the Bimota of the ’60s, remains his favorite thing to ride. It’s not much to look at, he admits, but it’s got that certain indescribable something he can’t describe.
3. CB750 Cafe racer/dragbike with paint by Skratch
SOHC Honda CB750s are still the cafe bike of choice in SoCal, and this one’s a choice example, complete with ARD magneto, alloy wheels and hand-beat body panels, and eyeball-stopping paint. Yoshi won’t part with this one cheap.
2. 1958 Norton Dominator
This Model 88 Dominator, freshly beribboned from the 2014 Greystone Mansion Concours d’Elegance, is another one of Yoshi’s favorites. Just your basic perfectly restored Featherbed-framed, 500cc Twin streetbike from the ’50s, this one’s another brand-new relic, a perfect slice of history, complete with oil slick.
1. The Crocker
The Crocker, all your vintage enthusiasts almost agree, is the Holy Grail of classic American motorcycles, and Yoshi will sell you this one for $175,000. It’s only a couple years old, but don’t call it a reproduction. Every piece of it is said to be patterned after the original, the only differences being the use of better materials which weren’t available when the first Crockers were built. Modern steel in the engine, for instance, lets the 80-cubic inch Twin put out a claimed 85 horsepower. Michael Schacht, legal and spiritual owner of the Crocker provenance, even moved his production facility to SoCal (Torrance, specifically), to even more closely tie the new bikes to the originals and be in touch with the people who were around when they were. It is a rare and cool beast indeed, with handmade aluminum tank and fenders, a transmission case that’s part of the frame, and a cachet known only to the cognoscenti.
For more about Yoshi’s moto-wonderland, visit http://garagecompany.com/.