Four years ago Glenn Jenkins hardly knew what a Suzuki RE5 rotary looked like – but now he has a collection of seven of them, including a stunning café racer! Pete Kelly travelled to a village in Yorkshire to see for himself.
ollowing in the footsteps of NSU’s Wankel-engined Ro80 car, whose 10-year production span was beset with problems, the rotary-engined RE5 was one of Suzuki’s most costly and ambitious ventures into the unknown.
Despite spending a fortune in tooling up for the project (including designing and producing a special machine for cutting the engine’s trochoid block) and training dealers’ mechanics to fully understand the single-rotor engines, the 1974-launched RE5 was marketed for just two years, 1975/6, during which time only around 6000 were built.
Many dealers, after stocking up with all the essential spares required, sold just a handful of the petrol-guzzling machines – but who knows how many potential buyers might have decided to leave well alone after finding themselves completely baffled by the technology?
Four years ago, Glenn Jenkins didn’t know the first thing about RE5s and had never actually seen one. It was a case of the machine that sparked his interest actually finding him! It had been part of a collection of motorcycles that a fellow enthusiast in Hong Kong brought back home with him before deciding to sell a few, and the model Glenn bought had done just 119 miles from new – in fact the drive chain still had the original chain lube on it!
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