Monument to Horsepower - page 2

Hall's turbo CBX didn't just spring into being overnight. It's the result of years of work. It all started, oddly enough, when Hall was almost killed on the bike in 1982, when it was a more-or-less stock Honda. "I ran off the road and hit a barbed-wire fence. A strand caught me right across the neck and I thought it ripped open my jugular. It was really scary." Hall survived, but the CBX didn't. At least not in its original form. Hall rebuilt the bike, and then he kept on going. First it became a project, then an obsession, then a lifestyle.

"The bike has been like a heroin addiction. There's always something else to do. I haven't gotten obsessed to the point where I've neglected my family, but then, they've been real patient with me," Hall says. Sometime about 1986, Hall's bike made the jump into the extraordinary. Gary Pena at The Shop, a San Bernardino, California, drag emporium, did most of the chassis modifications. The wheelbase was stretched to 68 inches, the rake was increased and then, with the help of machinist Nigel Patrick, who himself is the 1988 Dragbike! Pro- Stock number-one plate holder, the engine was practically remanufactured from the ground up.

A list of the one-off parts made especially for the CBX reads like an essay on "What I did for my last eight summer vacations." The turbo is a heavily modified ATP kit. The cylinder block was machined from a solid chunk of aluminum (machining cost, $2000). the rods are special-order Carrillos with extra-beefy small ends. The bike uses a hard-to-find Falicon Supercrank that's stroked 5mm. And the specially made, 75mm forged pistons have a Swain-Tech cerametalic coating that is bonded onto the surface to keep heat from dissipating into the piston itself. The engine actually is overdesigned -- it's built to withstand even more than the 325 horsepower it produces.

Hall admits the engine has much more untapped potential. "With maximum boost, the CBX could produce an honest 400 horsepower, but I don't think anyone could ride it. Even 11 pounds of boost scares the hell out of me. Any more and I wouldn't want to be on it." Hall just looks at the bike and shakes his head. "It's already outrageous," he says, adding that he estimates the bike's top speed to be 205 miles per hour.

Now the project is complete, or a least as complete as any such creation ever is. So what next? "I don't want to race it -- that gets too involved. too expensive. I just like riding it around on the street. The bike handles pretty good. And it has a mellow area before it gets on the boost where it's perfectly ridable." Hall speaks of the completed project almost sadly, as if a chapter in his life is ending. After all, the CBX has been with him through two wives and seven kids. He shrugs, "It's been fun."

So someday if you're cruising down your favorite road at a good clip and out of the corner of your eye you see something fly by that's long, outrageous and very, very fast, don't worry. It's probably just Jim Hall riding a six-cylinder chunk of his life.

And exercising one of his own, very personal, rights.

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