20th Jul, 2022 13:00

National Motorcycle Museum

  Lot 397

1982 Suzuki Katana GSX1100
Being sold to support MS Society UK

Sold for £12,650

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: KSP 305X
Frame No: GS110X524440
Engine No: 135955
CC: 1075
MOT: None

  • With NOS parts donated from around the world, this has to be the best Katana on the market
  • Restored during lockdown with help and support from around the UK, including Katana specialists
  • Proceeds going to MS Society UK

Charity Bike Build - In aid of the MS Society UK - The coming together of one man’s vision to build a motorcycle in aid of the 'MS Society UK' following on from John Martin's wife's MS diagnoses. The founder, John Martin of ACS (Air Cooled Suzuki), a group devoted to the Japanese classic motorcycle. With support for the build from around the UK and worldwide (including the involvement of Katana specialists) the plan came together during the COVID-19 lockdown. The result has to be the best Katana on the market anywhere today. The completed Katana was ridden on ITV4's The Motorbike Show with Henry Cole and Allen Millyard.

John saw the build through to completion. An absolutely stunning motorcycle was created. The build had him and Florence sitting at the computer searching for every single nut, bolt or washer. Sadly, John was diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic liver cancer. He succumbed to the illness and passed away on the 2nd November 2021. He leaves behind Florence and his two sons, John and Jack. John's funeral was held on the 25th of November 2021. Proceeds going to the MS Society UK.

Information kindly provided by the vendor follows here:

“Charity Bike Build - In aid of the MS Society UK

The coming together of one man’s vision to build a motorcycle in aid of the MS Society UK. The founder John Martin of ACS, Air Cooled Suzuki, a group devoted to the Japanese classic motorcycle. John Martin with his wife Florence and amazing friends and followers have toiled away together to produce this wonderfully fully restored masterpiece.

The Suzuki Katana GSX1100SZ

After Valentine's Day 2020, John left for work on Monday morning and said to Florence. “I have a thought, it may not come to much so don't hold me to it, I'll tell you later”. Of course, Florence had pings of notifications going on her Facebook page. She knew, but didn’t know what exactly.

John himself being the instigator and in his own words

Hi all,

My wife Florence is suffering with Primary Progressive MS. There is no cure or medication for it at the moment. Yet she keeps a positive attitude and finds the time to raise money for the MS Society charity. She has managed to write a book and have it published. It's called 'This Unseen Jungle in My Head'.

It's available to purchase on Amazon. Anything made from sales of the book is donated to the MS Society.

I figured, if she can do this whilst she's suffering I can surely do something to help. I enjoy restoring bikes and run a little group called ACS (air cooled Suzuki). I have been lucky enough to meet some fantastic supportive friends in the 8 years it's been running. I mentioned my idea to a few of them, before I knew it, I had offers all over of help. I couldn't believe it. I must have done something right in this life.

I have now negotiated a deal on a very tired Katana GSX1100SZ, thanks to Malc Sampson.

Between myself, Florence and all the awesome guys in ACS we're going to make this bike immaculate. The bike will be sold at auction or raffle. We haven't decided on how to do this yet. All the profit will go to the MS Society.

Many thanks folks.


Let It begin

The purchase from Ian Lucas was made possible with the original funding from Alan Wills. Alan also had a Katana built by John a couple of years prior to this project. The bike (in boxes) traveled from Cornwall at a discounted price in Feb 2020, with Mark Sampson being the middleman. The delivery of said tired Katana components arrived at Peterborough, thanks to Max Mawdsley for the price of a cup of tea and some cakes. John and Florence set about sifting through all the parts and after laying them out in the garden the project could begin. Inventory of required parts was posted on the ACS page and as John says above, the offers of components, gifts and donations started in abundance from members. In addition to the ACS page a stand-alone page was created by John.

The Charity bike build Facebook page has over 600 members showing the overwhelming appreciation by everyone for John's ambition to build this Katana. John as admin for that page was able to attract many, both for technical input as well as donations of parts and such like. Fiona Weeble Petrie was flying the flag on Twitter and Florence on her Instagram. John maintained the page to keep all in touch with the build as progress developed. Everyone had access and posts were welcomed from all.

John had the problem of the components, some usable and some not so, in his own words. He liked to over-restore, and some would say better than factory. John would spend entire afternoons and evenings part reference searching and checking for availability. In short, he did all the unseen work in the background that can never be forgotten.

Suzuki UK, Vintage Parts Programme and Robinsons Foundry

His close relationship over the years with two very important companies who without them, the Katana could not be to the standard it is. One would be Robinsons Foundry, a well-known OEM Suzuki parts supplier based in Canterbury. Michelle worked with John and the project, posting stuff all over the UK for the dedicated helpers. Michelle wrote me a few words.

"I was very lucky to have dealt with John over the years especially in regards to the Charity Katana, I supplied him with various Genuine Suzuki parts over the process of the rebuild including bolts, gaskets, seals and cosmetic items” - Michelle @ (Robinsons Suzuki)

The second and again a major part of the build is Tim Davies of Suzuki UK. The Vintage Parts Programme is part of Suzuki UK, originally set up to supply new parts for the older motorcycles. Consignment after consignment of brand new parts kept feeding through from May 2020 as John required. Tim and John had a close friendship with considerable collaborations at shows over the years. Tim is working closely with the final outcome of the build.

Where to start? - It's about the people, the people that made this whole thing happen. - It has to be the main cycle parts.


John Matthews is collecting and delivering the frame to John Regan for dipping. Chris Jackson will bring it south to find its way to Andy Wade and with the help of Gareth J Hall a full inspection was carried out with a little fix here and there and with thanks also to Kev Kent the frame now has a new lease of life and is ready for the program. Unfortunately, the swing arm was not so and a fresh one, donated by John Matthews, was in process. Ready for paint, the frame found its way to Tony Graham Parks up in Sheffield and with magic hands went through the process of light bead blast followed by an etch primer and then a 2K primer before the final coats of 13L silver basecoat and satin clear lacquer. Tony then delivered it back to Peterborough personally from Sheffield.

Swingarm arrived at Centurion Motorcycle Projects and was stripped, inspected, refinished in Ricochet silver and dispatched back to Peterborough for John to put in new bearings supplied by Deeds.

Tank and bodywork

Another touch here again from Tony Graham Parks and Richard. A mixture of works here with new parts from Martin of Prototype Plastic Components. Fairing and side panels with additional original new tailpiece from Andy Mackinnon. The parts were all painstakingly prepared and plastic etch primed where needed. Followed by 13L silver and gloss 2k lacquer. Matte black accents where required. Original Suzuki decal from Richard and Rachael with meticulous instruction from John with drawings and measurements for their exact location on these parts. Richard also did an amazing job with the air box covers and fuel cap. An exciting day for John and Florence to drive up to Sheffield and collect.


When it comes to John's attention to detail, you just have to look at the forks. They traveled the length of the country for restoration. Gary Bond has big thanks here. He stripped them for full evaluation, and sent them all over the place for magic to happen, he was everywhere. Anti-dive assemblies went to Centurion Motorcycle Projects for full refinishing and internal rebuild. The fork stanchions went to Andy of A M Philpotts at Luton for full re-chroming and the fork bottoms were sent to Harry Overton Briteworx Custom Polishing for polishing. More about Harry later in the engine section. Dave Caraher donated fork oil. Everything ended up back at Hatfield with Gary Bond. He set about rebuilding the whole assembly, with new parts from the Vintage Parts Program. I know Gary had many further involvements as an admin to the ACS page.


The seat has been quite a task with the original donated seat from Stefan Berendijk in the Netherlands. Ultimately result was thanks to Mark Hind for the painstaking job of the final reupholstering, his efforts stretch much further in the seat story. Richard Seabert for his huge involvement too, not to mention the difficulty in obtaining the hide used for colour match thanks to Tim at UK Hides. Mark sent the metalwork up to Centurion Motorcycle Projects for replating.

Whilst here, thanks goes to Richard Seabert as he also collected the engine from Hexham in Northumberland and brought it back down south a few hundred miles. In addition, he donated the rear mudguard.

Brake discs and calipers

One could say a few arrived, Richard Seabert again with two front discs. A further two front discs were also kindly donated by Robin Davis (Bobster) and Dave Tricky assisted in front brakes with painting. Calipers were again done by Andy Wade and Gareth J Hall. Fully rebuilt with the new parts for these from Robinsons Foundry. The bike’s first outing proved to be a little exciting with the discs having a small warp in them. Thanks to a rolling road check from Bikes and Trikes N’ Stuff. John had this sorted in no time with the donations from the guys above. Can you believe the brake hoses came from Australia?


A small part but in the classic Katana world a main cycle part. Thanks to Malc Sampson for the clocks. Huge involvement in the clock for their restoration goes to Andy Mackinnon. With a set of clock needles coming from South Africa. Mark Isaacs shipped a new set of cluster needles, potentially lost in transit and with the help of Katana owners club a second set was available. The ones that got lost turned up, Brexit and customs Huh!


The wheels went straight to Centurion Motorcycle Projects in Hexham for finishing in Ricochet silver, however, they were so thick with paint and with a potential buckle in the front it was easier to have them swapped for a good known set they had. After stripping, masking, painting and baking these were then forwarded to Andy Arland of Classic Coatings in Grantham for diamond cutting of their cast faces and rims. Tyres were donated by Philip Thornber, with Ted Fidler supplying the tubes. Thanks to Jason Morpeth of Bikes Trikes N stuff for tyre fitting.


Chris Crawford and his young apprentice donated a replacement alternator and went through the loom. Big thanks go to Doug and Bec too. Thanks to Jason Smith also. Parts for the loom arrived from America and Phillip Bussey obtained the battery.


The carburettors that arrived at Centurion Motorcycle Projects went through a full restoration. They were stripped, vapour blasted and rebuilt with new components. All the iron work was stripped and replated with a yellow gold passivate. Lids and bowls were chemically polished.


John sent a message to Two Wheel Spares for the very nice stock exhaust they had. They replied with a very generous, in fact a huge discounted price. Well done Two Wheel Spares.

Powder coat

Mark Kelleher of MK Classics very kindly carried out some considerable powder coating. Battery box, top and bottom yokes, brackets and many fixings, some plated components too. Four boxes arriving back at John’s, had him feeling like Christmas had arrived.


David Porter for unobtainable rear shock stickers. Graham Dance for engine bolts. Paul Gregory for rear light assembly. Centurion Motorcycle Projects for plating. Adrian Foster for chain and sprocket kit donation. Allan Ward for electrical. MOT from Jason Morpeth of Bikes Trikes N stuff. Jim King for brake pads. Pete Hallum for footrest components. Richard Hocking brake parts. Darrel Lanchester for the Kat grill. Deeds Burns for swingarm bearings amongst many other donated bearings. Kevin Gray bar end weights amongst others. Dave Parker gear lever. Tom Westwater engine bolts. Robert Baldrey for mirror contribution. Nick at Suzuki Performance Spares for engine gaskets. Gary May for genuine front sprocket. Malc Sampson numberplate. Tom Davidson and David Porter rear shock parts.


Triggers broom comes to mind and was a comment on the build page. However, John wouldn't settle for second best where the engine is concerned. It took four donated crankshafts to come up with one good one and the man for this was Roger Upperton. Roger built the crankshaft as well as the clutch basket before these were sent to the engine builder. John Matthews took along one of the cranks to Roger. Allan Ward contributed greatly with a cylinder head as well as Paul Morris for the sump. There were many others who donated engine components. Harry Overton of Briteworx did the absolutely stunning engine case polishing. Chris Tombleson of Grumpy 1260, a very well known and respected engine guru in the Suzuki world came up trumps with a cylinder head rebuild. At some stage all of these engine components came to me here at Centurion Motorcycle Projects. My job has been to strip all engine parts of any paints followed by a full vapour blast then rinse and dry and ensure all are good for rebuilding. Richard Seabert came up trumps with collection from Northumberland and taking back down South. Jon Skelly is the man that rebuilt the engine. The engine is complex so I’ve asked Jon if he would put a few words together and in true fashion and in his own words. Thanks Jon.

Jon Skelly

When I heard about the charity Katana idea, I was keen to help as my partner Fiona has MS and I can see first hand how debilitating it is. Having spent most of my working life involved in motorsport, mainly building race engines for QED, Mass, Terry Hoyle, Prodrive, restoring vintage aero engines and building my own race engines and various air cooled GSX engines, I naturally offered to build the charity katana engine. The cylinder barrels were measured and found to be quite usable with no barrelling, tapering or wear so I gave them a quick hone just to break the glaze and to allow the new pistons and rings to bed in. The engine cases were sent to Brian McCall at Centurion Motorcycle Projects for blasting. The crankshaft was rebuilt with new big end bearings by the well-renowned Roger Upperton. The cylinder head was rebuilt by the equally well renowned Chris Tombleson at Grumpy 1260. Full gasket set supplied by Nick at Performance Suzuki Spares. New Genuine Suzuki components are supplied by either Robinsons or Suzuki UK. The list of new genuine Suzuki components that went into the engine are as follows: Cam chain, cam chain tensioner blades, pistons, piston rings, piston pins & circlips, clutch springs, clutch plates, clutch release bearing, all gears, all bearings including selector drum bearings. All oil seals, all nuts & bolts, oil strainer, all gaskets, APE valve guides & seals. All other components were cleaned, visually inspected and measured. Those that were showing no wear and in good order were reused.

The coming together

As main components and parts were either collected or delivered personally all over the country it was time for John to prepare for the build. Garage space was prepared and Florence was wingman, willing at every stage to assist. Bit by bit it will soon turn into a rolling chassis, with new parts constantly arriving. These are snippets from the build page of John's posts. July 2020 and the frame is in the workshop ready for build. The seat arrives from the south coast, 28th October sees another Suzuki parts shipment and steps to put the chassis together begin. 8th November has the forks, yokes and front wheel plus discs and calipers fitted. 12th Nov has the rear mudguard and indicators fitted. Battery box and rear brake assembly going together on the 15th Nov. 17th Nov John installs swing arm bearing and fits to frame. 22nd Nov shocks are fitted, the rear wheel is loosely fitted whilst waiting for sprocket carrier seal. Rear light and tailpiece fitted with all new rubbers. January 2021 sees rear caliper wiring harness and some electrical components fitted. 9th and the front brake lines from Australia are fitted, the brakes are bled and active. 30th Jan monumental day the engine arrives and by late evening and thanks to John Martin junior, it's fitted. Young John, 'John John' as known by the family played a monumental role in the putting together of the build, as we all know these things are heavy. Feb sees electric work clearly advancing. 14th and the clutch assembly is fitted. Ignition pick-up and clutch cover are fitted. A spare hour or two has the spark plugs in, oil pressure, switch and anti vibe cylinder head rubbers along with exhaust system. 19th sees the plug caps and ignition sorted. 27th and the carbs are fitted, it's starting to look like a motorcycle now. Big day today 2nd March. Front sprocket and sprocket cover, alternator, more wiring, gear lever, breather pipe, fuel pipe, trickle charger wires. Fitting of chain guard plus the sorting of choke and throttle cables. We have oil in, the horn works and we have a spark at the plugs. We now have the first firing (see below). 17th sees the newly refurbished clocks arrive and replacement alternator. 310 miles for John and Florence today for the collection of all painted body parts. 21st and the front light, screen, fairing and indicators are fitted. Along with the front mudguard. 1st May fuel tank and cap are now fitted and complete. The seat is on and ready for the road test. This showed up the warped disc but that was soon remedied. A few test rides and it's ready for the next phase, a test ride with Henry Cole and the TV programme The Motorbike Show.

First firing

The 7th of March saw an attempt to start for the first time. In John's words "I popped into the garage once or twice. I made an oil pressure light up and cranked until we had oil pressure. I then came back in to chillax. This morning I decided to start it up, this didn't go as I hoped. It didn't even try, it backfired so I suspected ignition. I checked the coils and I had wired them correctly, I tried another set of pickups, another CDI, but still no joy. The airbox didn't seem to be sucking much so I wanted to check the compression, that was all good. It was then time for my roast ;-) Thanks, Florence Martin was mint. Whilst at the table trying to eat, whilst my mind was on the bike, it hit me, ATU, cam 180 degrees out, turned that 180 degrees and away it went. So today’s a great day. Huge thanks to all involved. We have a runner. Sadly, the alternator is toast and we need a new one".

The Motorbike Show

Henry Cole and Allen Millyard had an episode where they both rode the charity Kat back-to-back with the current new version from Suzuki. It was good to see the bike on TV with positive comments for the build from both.

Squires weekend

With the cancellation of the classic meeting at Donnington this year, John decided to have an ACS weekend at Squires Cafe. The opportunity for members to come along, look at the charity Kat and of course have some beers and stay over for the next day. The weather was good and some had too much beer. Allan Horn came along with his camera skills and took some fantastic pictures.

Contribution and support

John worked for Perkins engines in Peterborough for almost 26 years, a Caterpillar-owned company who made two direct donations. The donations will go towards tablets, computers and WIFI for people who suffer from MS that are housebound. John's generosity stretches even further, as parts from his own stock and parts that may have been duplicated, a Facebook auto jumble page was created for people to have the opportunity to move their wares, as they say, John putting funds into the MS Society pot once more.

Other contributions, both monetary gifts and support came from all over the globe from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, The Czech Republic, The Netherlands, The Rock of Gibraltar and South Africa to name a few.

John, always striving to get the money raised for the build set challenges for shaving hair, moustache, and beards and Florence took immense delight in shaving his beard.

James Arnold for his contribution of celebrity signed pictures, photos and others.

Nichola McCall of Nichola McCall Art for the sale of seven pieces of her pencil art, a little proud and biased here, she's my daughter.

Allan Horn for some very professional photos.

Special thanks also go to Jim King and Peter Hallum for the huge help and support of the ACS shows that take place. The ACS has had club stands at all the main classic style shows. Manchester, Newark and Stafford to name a few. Another special thanks to Kevin Gray. Kev, John’s best bud for over 30 years as well as his best man continues to give all the support he can. Massive thank you has to go out to all that have not been mentioned, each and every one of you played a vital role in the creation of the charity bike and the support you have given is appreciated beyond words. Whether this is in donated parts or monetary gifts your contributions have been so welcome. Please forgive me if I've missed you and again thank you to you all for your support of the build and the MS Society UK.

John Martin

John saw the build through to completion. The bike was road-tested, registered with full roadworthy certification and an absolutely stunning motorcycle was created. He was the instigator of the whole thing and the man that indeed put the motorcycle where it is today. Katanas were surely John’s thing and over the years he has built many. From stock ones through to turbo drag strip ones, he even built one for Florence, he’s done them all. This one, in particular, had him and Florence sitting at the computer searching for many hours through parts lists to source through his network for every single nut, bolt or washer. Countless painstaking after-work hours in research and on the build, as well as trips all over the place to collect and deliver parts for the project, went into the final finished bike. I don't think anyone can praise his achievement enough. The man is remarkable.

It is with great sadness that John was diagnosed with aggressive pancreatic liver cancer. He succumbed to the illness and passed away on the 2nd November 2021. He leaves behind Florence and his two sons, John and Jack. John’s last wishes to Florence were to stay strong. Florence promised John to be as strong as she could be for as long as she could be, as he was for her.

John's funeral was held on the 25th of November 2021. A full procession of motorcycles from all over the UK joined him for the final farewell.”

For more information, please contact:
Mike Davis
07718 584217


Auction: National Motorcycle Museum, 20th Jul, 2022


Wednesday 20th July 2022, from 9am

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