Price new – £1895
The World’s first production water-cooled
V4, boasted Honda when the shaft-drive VF750S
was unveiled in 1982. Great, but somehow forgotten
to finish designing the engine. It was a disaster,
a warranty claim on wheels. After a year a hasty
rethink produced the much-improved VF750F, along
with the smaller VF400F.
Apart from the fact that Honda’s reputation
was in tatters, the 400 had several sales obstacles
to overcome. Above all, it cost £1895,
£50 more than a fast, reliable Kawasaki
GPz550, and, crucially, £200 more than
the brilliant new Yamaha 350 Power Valve.
The VFR400F actually handled and went very
well but it was no surprise that it didn’t
sell in an already shrinking UK market. Neither
did the later VF500F, which, despite appearances,
was a completely different machine.
Meanwhile, the Japanese were buying sports
400S by the thousand, thanks to stringent license
restrictions for bigger bikes.
While the British model came with onboard disc
brakes and a nosecone fairing, by 1984 the Japanese
home market Integra came with normal brakes
and a full fairing.
RWHS’s VF400F is one of these, imported
in 1991 when the grey market was getting into
swing. Apart from the obvious, a kph speedo
is the main difference from a UK bike, and most
spares will be as easy, or hard, to find.