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Unusual V-Twin: 1960 Lilac LS-18 250

050916 Barn Finds - 1960 Lilac LS-18 - 1

Thanks to Barn Finds fan, Jim S., for sending in the tip on this unusual motorcycle! This is a 1960 Lilac LS-18 250 and it’s on eBay in Emeryville, California for $2,800 or make an offer. This is an unusual, Japanese motorcycle with a V-twin engine in the spirit of Moto-Guzzi, at least as far as using a V-Twin goes.

050916 Barn Finds - 1960 Lilac LS-18 - 2

The Lilac was made by Marusho Motorcycle Industrial Co Ltd in Hamamatsu, Japan, and as was often the case in the early era of Japanese manufacturing, they somewhat copied European bikes of the same time period. All but two Lilac V-twin models had a 66-degree V-twin engine and they all had shaft-drive and overhead valves. An unusual feature of these bikes is a rotary 4-speed gearshift. So, when you’re in 4th you just shift it again and you’re in neutral. The seller mentions having some trouble with this one jumping into neutral so that’ll have to be looked at. A restored version of this bike would probably go for $6,000-$10,000 so there’s some room to make repairs and do some restoration here.

050916 Barn Finds - 1960 Lilac LS-18 - 3

The Lilac LS-18 was powered by a 247cc, 18.5 hp V-twin and as unusual as a 250 V-twin is, these bikes had a host of unusual features. Some of them I’ve already mentioned, but one handy feature was having a toolbox built into the top of the gas tank. They also had electric start, telescoping front suspension, and swing arm rear. The company filed for bankruptcy in 1961 but came back to produce motorcycles again between 1964 and 1967. The seller says that this bike was ridden today and it was leaking a bit of oil and the brakes are fairly weak. This sure would be an unusual bike to show up with at a vintage Japanese motorcycle event. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one in person, not many were imported to the US even though the company made thousands of them. Are you a fan of these unusual makes or do you stick with Honda, Yamaha, or Suzuki; or another well-known brand?


  1. Rick

    Cool bike, never heard of a Lilac. Wonder how hard it would be to keep it running?

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  2. That Guy

    Ditto, I’ve never heard of this company. It’s nice to start the day with a new piece of trivia (I mean knowledge) lodged in my increasingly overloaded brain. Bikes aren’t my thing but this is a cool find.

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  3. jimbosidecar

    I have a Marusho, but it’s the model copied from a BMW slash 2. I need parts which are almost impossible to find. I’m tempted to go for this one, just to part it out and keep what I need to finish mine.

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  4. geomechs geomechs Member

    Even though my interest in Japanese motorcycles is confined mostly to the Honda CB/CL 72/77 models, I’m always interested in other neat stuff. Bikes I used to see/ride when I was younger are great but something like this comes along and I’m hooked. Kind of like finding an original Toyoda car. I hope this gets picked up restored and ridden. Need more of these unusual bikes for others to see…

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  5. Howard A Member

    Never hoid of it either. Seems pretty sophisticated for an Asian bike. Somebody grabbed it. I bet this thing cruises pretty nice, up to about 50. This was probably a pretty fancy bike for someone in Japan at the time. What a cool find, but not enough oomph for me. I need more cc’s. ( no less than 750 for a street bike). Thanks, SG.

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  6. Ed Willaims

    There were a few of these Lilacs in the L.A. area and were sold by the short-lived Marusho dealers. I remember the one on Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood who was a BMW motorcycle dealer that also had a couple of Lilacs in stock, as well.

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  7. ROTAG999

    I know the Marusho model that looks like a Bmw motor wise this is a new one for me tank badge almost looks Honda-ish…

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    • Ross W. Lovell

      Greetings All,

      Have to wonder how their marketing department came up with this model name in light of motorcycle movies out at the time, Wild Ones, Easy Rider.

      Just picture, biker bar, belling up to the bar and have ping another biker asks you what you ride.

      You look at him straight faced and say I ride a Lilac………?

      Like the bike though. Parts, not so bad as long as you don’t need cosmetics like cases and side covers.

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      • Howard A Member

        Hi Ross, HA. The Asians during that time had all kinds of seemingly silly names for their vehicles. At least it wasn’t called a “Pansy”.

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  8. Jim Wulzen

    We were a Marusho dealer in Santa Clara Honda- Marusho in the mid 60’s. I won a few production races on the 500 apposed twin in 65. I was parts manager for the dealership.

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  9. Scotty G Staff

    Auction update: this bike sold for $2,800.

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  10. Mark Whiteley

    This was the bike that “Vicki” (Julie Newmar) rode around on in the “How much is a pound of Albatros?” episode of Route 66. The decal on the tank made me think of Honda… but the Moto-Guzi engine type didn’t appear on a Honda till the late 70’s.

    Here is the video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aq-GmqA83Jw

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  11. Charles Carlson

    I checked out this model in 1961 at a dealer on Long Beach Blvd. Bought a ’50 Triumph chopper instead.

    Like 0

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