Date: Friday, April 22 @ 00:03:52 EDT
Turbocbxmans Blake Turbo CBX project. By Jem Miller and Reginald Lilly.
I had heard stories about a Turbo CBX terrorizing
Oklahoma City for quite some time. In 1984 I met the original owner of the bike
through a good friend of mine. He happened to have a 1981 CBX for sale at his
motorcycle repair shop, and I was in the market. Over the next year we became
friends and I heard more stories about the Turbo bike that he had sold just
prior to our meeting the previous year.
1985 I received a call from Bob Jansen who was the service manager for
Jandebuer's Cycle. He said they had just traded for the infamous Turbo CBX and
that if I wanted it, I'd better get over there before it went to the shop for
service, and then to the sales floor. At the time I lived only a few blocks from
Jandebuer's, so I stopped on the way home from work to take a look at the bike.
Don, the owner of the shop met me at the door and hustled me back to the service
area. There I finally got my first look at the bike. It was scratched up and
dirty, and had bald tires. Bob fired it up and it sounded like it had a dead
miss on one cylinder. Sure enough, Bob said it had at least one bent valve on
the number 3 cylinder.
The asking price was $1,000.00. After looking the bike over and talking to Bob
for a few minutes, I agreed to buy it. We loaded it on Bob's trailer and hauled
it to his house, where he did motorcycle work on the side. We put it on his rack
and started tearing it down that night. The next evening we had the head off and
all of the painted parts removed so I could start the restoration process on
them. I took the Rajay turbo with me so that I could check its health and
rebuild if it necessary. At the time, I did restorations on 1974 and earlier
muscle cars and street rods. I also specialize in fuel injection and turbo
Jandebuer called me a few days later to tell me about a CBX he had in storage
that had kicked a rod through the side of the case. It was a 1979 CBX and had
about 800 miles on the clock. I bought it with a salvage title for $500.00 so I
had parts available for the turbo bike. CBX parts, back then, were expensive and
hard to find, so it was a good investment.
After about a week of working in the evenings, the engine was back together, and
we were both satisfied that it was as good or better than the day it left Bill
Blake's shop in Muskogee. Wanting some history on the bike, Bob and I went to
see Blake to get an idea of the capabilities and cut through the rumors. We
spent several hours with Mr. Blake talking about the project and especially the
He said that the original design turned out to be so dangerous that he had to
redesign the wastegate and other components to bring the horsepower down to a
manageable level. The first design made over 400 horsepower, but was so hard to
control that it scared his professional test rider. Mr. blake settled on a boost
limit of 3 to 18 PSI, which yielded a maximum horsepower of around 280 at the
rear tire. His test rider was able to get times in the high 8's with a slick and
bar on the bike.
describing the bike to Mr. Blake and answering several questions about the
intake manifold and headers on the bike. He confirmed that this was indeed the
prototype that was used to base the other 8 kits that were produced. All but one
of those kits were shipped overseas, and he said that the US Turbo CBX had been
destroyed in an accident a couple years ago. As far as he knew, mine was the
only Blake Turbo CBX in the U.S. and was the only one with extensive history and
test data. All other Blake Turbo CBX's had cast aluminum intake manifolds with
raised fins and Blake's name cast into them. Mine had a sheet metal intake that
was painted crinkle black with no markings at all. It also has a series of
washers welded inside to divert flow to the cylinders equally.
I decided to change the look of the bike by using a two tone candy brandywine. I
mixed a gold base coat for the darker sections and a silver base for the light
sections and laid out the design. The small fairing, tail piece, and tank were
done in two tone, and the side covers were in the darker shade. The wheels,
frame, and engine were painted and detailed, and all of the chrome was restored.
The Corbin Gentry seat had a high step in it that acted as a seat belt under
throttle. The seat was original to this bike, and needed nothing.
a couple weeks, the bike was ready to go with a fresh engine and all new paint.
Bob said that the previous owner had probably missed a gear. The head had a
total of 4 bent valves, but no other damage was found. My first ride on the bike
was pretty subdued. With the baffle in the exhaust, it will only make about 9
PSI of boost, but that is plenty. I went to boost a couple times on that ride,
but only for short spurts.
I spent the next week breaking in the new rings with only occasional torture to
the engine. I must have ridden it for a month or more before I finally raced
another bike. I kept the boost at 8 PSI for normal riding, and left the baffle
in just in case. Even at 8 PSI, I never had a problem with another bike on the
street except my brothers modified V-Max.
Over the years, I began losing interest in motorcycles, and when I did take the
Turbo CBX out, I found that, if it did something unexpected, that it scared me.
I have always believed that if a vehicle scares you then you have no business on
or in it. About 6 years ago, I parked the Turbo CBX after it developed an
igniter problem, and it just sat there.
had long since sold the igniter's from the parts bike, and most of the rest of
that bike. My wife would never ride with me on the bike, and parts were through
the roof, so it sat. Even after I bought igniters for it, it just sat there with
the replacement parts still in the bag. Oh I'd show it to people, and show off
the 1st place trophy it won at Darrel Starbird's car show in 1987, but it still
In 2004 I started thinking about selling the CBX. I had long since sold the 81
CBX that I rode almost daily for many years. After selling a car to Reggie, I
showed him the Turbo CBX, and he fell in love. He's already talked to Bill Blake
and started the restoration process on the bike. It does my heart good to see
someone get the bike that knows what it is and wants to put it into new