Jonesin’ for Jones: 1971 Kawasaki MT1 Parnelli Jones

Back in the day, if you wanted a mini-bike you had to settle for a heavy framed boat anchor of a bike powered by  a lawnmower motor and a centerfugal clutch.  Honda changed the game in the 60’s with its Z series “Monkey” with a mini-bike that was a scaled down motorcycle vs. a two wheeled bed frame that smelled of dog chips when you started it with a rope.  Not wanting to miss out, the nuts at Kawasaki came out with their own minibike in 1971, and of course, it was powered by a two stroke.  Find this 1971 Kawasaki MT1 Parnelli Jones for sale in Missoula, MT for $475 via craigslist.

Since Honda had a 5 year head start on Kawasaki, the marketing boffins at Kawasaki had the idea to have famed off road and Indy Car racer Parnelli Jones lend his name to the bike.  Officially it was the Kawasaki MT1 Parnelli Jones Dyna-Mite.  They only sold it as the Parnelli Jones for 1971.  The bike itself was sold until 1978.

The MT1 was powered by a 75 cc two-stoke (what else from Kawasaki) producing 4 bhp at 6,500 rpm.  It was said to be more of a thrill ride than its Z50 rival from Honda due to the power delivery of the two stroke.  Also, it was easy for the beginner to ride with a 3 speed automatic gearbox and your dad could fold up the handlebars and stick it in the trunk of his full sized car.  Plus, you started it with your leg using an honest-to-god kick starter.

Our subject is said to be a project bike and needs a new shift shaft and “a lot of other things”  No word on if it starts and runs.  It’s also obviously missing its front headlight and has a nasty recovered seat.  On the plus side the original paintwork is still intact as is the folding handlebars.  Unfortunately there is no title, so you will have to do the lost title song and dance with your local DMV.

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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He’s a lifelong Alfista and grew up riding two-stroke dirt bikes in rural Washington State when no one gave you dirty looks about all the blue smoke.  It’s pretty obvious he wrote this bio in third person as he isn’t nearly clever enough to put a bunch of witty jokes about writing third person bios in it.  He prefers Gretsch guitars through Fender amps with a touch of tape delay.