~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Monday, December 27, 2010

On The Road In 1979

San Joaquin Valley, 1979
Found this one when I was rummaging for a different picture.  My old business partner Chris and his wife, along with someone from my distant past.  Of more interest are the bikes, of course.  Brand new matching 1979 Suzuki 850's fully equipped with the best add-ons of the time: Vetter Windjammer fairings, Bates saddlebags with chrome bag guards, matching top boxes, and 24" tall padded sissy bars for the pillion persons.   Great bikes.  I still have a soft spot for the Suzuki 850.  

Later in the day we'd get popped by a nice CHP officer who took exception to us doing 80 mph on a winding country road on warm, wonderful day.  After we stopped he looked us over and said "Looked to me like you were doing 65."   "Yes sir" we replied,  "We were doing 65, sir!"  "I thought you'd see it my way" he said, and went on "You look like nice people, I don't want to take you to jail and spoil your day, but slow down."  He wrote us up for 65 mph in a 50 mph zone and we gladly signed our tickets. 

Oh yeah, someone stuck a WWII airplane in the roof of a gas station.  Post WWII roadside marketing at it's best.

update: The airplane is still there.


Jac Brown said...

Great stuff.

By now, the airplane has been pulled down and is either recycled into frying pans or has been restored.

What I like most about the bikes are the idea that in 1979, an 850 was considered a 'big' bike capable of touring and add-ons like a full Vetter and bags. These days, most people would consider an 850 a beginners bike and not capable of anything but around town use.

What's up with the totally matching bikes?

mq01 said...

wow, im sure i visited this same spot yrs ago. great bikes, great plane, fun memory (and very cool that chp officer let you off easy), and excellent pic doug.

Doug Klassen said...

Jac, there were actually three matching bikes. I was telling my business partner Chris I was going to buy one when our friend Paul walked in. Paul decided he needed one too. Since I was the motorcycle guy they opted to just outfit the bikes pretty much as I did mine. We went down to the Suzuki dealer and ordered three identical bikes. He was a very happy dealer.

MQ, there was another plane out on Highway 99 that was stuck into the roof of a tavern. I saw that one many times as a kid driving by with my parents but didn't see the gas station version out near Hanford, I think, until the late '70s.

Unknown said...


I had a lot of Suzuki's around that time too. In 1981 I upgraded to the GS1100L but I have few photos back then. I'm making up for lost time now

Have a Happy New Year and keep the photos coming

Wet Coast Scootin

Joe said...

Though I couldn't put a finger on what it is, there's something about that picture that really screams late 70's. It can't be the bikes because I don't know enough about 'em to recognize period differences, but it's a great shot all around of a time I often wish I could revisit.

Best wishes for a great New Year. Happy 2011!

- Joe at Scootin' da Valley

Swapan Pradhan said...

Well i would not like to spark on the planes but hey its the Suzuki 850s that's getting wonder. Nice to hear something that i was not even born, Nice ride (then) & nice story you got.

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