Barn Find Triple 2 Stroke: 1973 Suzuki GT550

Among the bikes found in the Barn Finds Exclusive listing for a large stash of motorcycles in Georgia is a Suzuki GT380, which I admittedly had my eye on when I first spotted it. The ram air-style cooling system had a lot to do with it, as it just made the bike more intriguing than the others it was parked next to. This GT550 here on eBay was the next level up, and considered a fine touring bike back in the day. The opening bid if $500 with no reserve listed.

With the dust cleaned off, this Suzuki looks reasonably complete, with the exception of a few missing components. The seller notes the bike is missing the side covers and driver’s side rear light. Aside from some cosmetic blemishes, such as on the top of the tank, the bike is rust-free and ran out well after the carbs were soaked and new plugs installed.

The tires will need replacing, but are good enough for transport purposes. The GT550 was novel in that it had two exhaust pipes per side, for a grand total of four. And to think, we poke fun at modern imports with huge exhausts – Suzuki was adding no fewer than four mufflers in the 1970s. Chrome is good but not great; perhaps it can be polished out.

I dig the colors of the tank, though it’s obvious it suffers from some dents as well. The seller has driven the bike and notes that it clicks through the gears without issue. The brakes will need bleeding and an overall tuneup, as there’s still some running issues that need to be sorted out. These are attractive bikes with some engineering quirks that make them standout in a crowded field of vintage Japanese cruisers.

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Next to the 750 “water buffalo”, this was one of the last 2 stroke street bikes. While the other makers had all gone to 4 strokes, Suzuki was the last to hang on to 2 strokes, until, ’77, I believe, when the GS 750 4 cylinder came out. For a 2 stroke, these were about as refined as they could get. Oil injection, better cooling, critical on 3 cylinders, a fast cruiser that I’m sure lots of folks put lots of miles on. I read, ’77 was the last year for these and the water buffalo, and ’78 was the last year for the 380, when the GS 1000 blew everyone out of the water, and 2 stroke street bikes were gone forever.
    Biggest problem, is parts for vintage Asian bikes. I heard the manufacturers ordered parts to be thrown away, and unless somebody went “dumpster diving”, you’re out of luck. Case in point, I tries to find a front driveshaft for an ’80’s Suzuki atv, and none ANYWHERE could be found. Stuff like lighting coils and spark rectifiers are non-existent, and the old stock that are around are bad too. Might want to keep that in mind when buying something like this.

    • NovaTom

      Yamaha was still putting out 2 strokes until 1980 if I remember right . The RD 400 and I think a racier RZ400 .

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        You do remember right, Tom. The RD 250 got bumped out when the English said a “learner bike” could be no more than a 125cc but The 350 was hot all over the streets so then they upped to a 400; later came the giant-slaying RZ350LC imported here only in 1984-85, the last year for US legal street bike 2 strokes, I think..
        But yes, Howard, between the US EPA and the leaps made in 4 stroke technology (due in part to Mr. Sochiro Honda [CVCC] and company) the “2 smoke” motor was doomed on the street when the GS strutted on stage.

      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I had a ’74 RD400 as my first bike. Lots of high revving fun.

      • Doug

        Nevada half track has it mostly right- A former passenger of mine on my water-buffalo outfit showed up at Laguna Seca with an RZ500. Pretty sure that was in 1985. It had been imported into Oregon from Canada, then re-registered in California. Prior to that he had a TZ250 rolling chassis stamped by the CHP as a replacement frame for his RD400- and then put 1/2 a TZ750 top end on the RD400 bottom , giving a 430cc 2 stroke twin good for 75 hp in a bike that weighed about 30 lbs more than a TZ250 race bike ( due to headlight, taillight, and license plate bracket ) Made for one VERY quick bike, and an absolute joy to ride on a twisty road.

      • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

        https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/mcy/d/pinole-1985-yamaha-rz500/6867690383.html
        This is the bike Doug wrote about..
        A very “invigorating” ride-lots of seat covers got sucked up and never found when a rider new to the bike took one out!
        Never sold new to the riding public in the US-racers only.

  2. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Well said, Howard-unless you can score a set of side covers, for instance, at a big swap meet like the ones held monthly in Long Beach and occasionally in Auburn, CA. (just to name a couple) you’re going to have to rely on luck, eBay and word-of-mouth through the “pipelines” of Japanese motorcycle owners/repair shops. At that it probably won’t be valued by anyone else to the amount of money you’ve spent to restore it so “Ride It Don’t Hide It!”

  3. norm bissonnette

    I thought I would never see one of these again ! My first bike was a 380 . Great memories and lots of fun !

    • Howard

      Hey Norm, my 3rd bike was a 1974 Gold 380 suzuki. It was a very quick bike. It would stay up with a 750 Honda to about 70mph. I topped it out at 115mph when racing a 550 Suzuki one night. He couldnt leave me and I could not get closer than 50 feet. Pretty evenly matched.

  4. irocrobb

    Brings back memories of my 1975 GT550 I owned around 1983 or so . It looked as new and had very low mileage. It smoked on heavy throttle and made a racket but it sure went like crazy. I remember I had paid 500 dollars and sold it a couple years later for the same money.

    • Terry R Melvin

      One thing about the GT-bikes, their instruments succumbed to severe fogging of the lens over time, rendering them completely unreadable. Good luck getting replacement gages.

  5. geomechs Member

    I almost forgot about these. The Kawasaki Triples made so much “noise” that Suzuki was lost in the echo. But the 2-strokes were “running out of gas” by then and no one wanted them anymore. I might add that they were harder on gas than a lot of small cars by then. I remember one guy telling me that they only got 18 mpg. But I guess they were a fun ride while they lasted…

    • Terry R Melvin

      The H2 Kawi triple got 25 mpg on a good day, but the GT750 “Buffalo” could get mid 40s easily.

  6. ken tilly

    Just a fun question. On a motorcycle which side is the drivers side?

    • Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

      The top side…which is why it’s confusing as to where the light is missing from!
      😂

  7. Maverick

    Knowing it will.be worth money.
    Didn’t
    take care off it. Junk like.everything else is for SALE. Over priced scrap sitting outside so long should have sold it when they were salvageable .probably past on Making money going to fix ..lol

  8. G Gagnon

    I had a 380 ram Air. It was a fast bike. The middle plug would foul up from time to time if you didn’t get out on highway. Also was a 2 stroke and would blow away 750 4 strokes!!

  9. WaltL

    From the ad: “All in all, it is good condition.” Not hardly. I guess my definition of “good” needs to be adjusted in today’s market. It’s a pretty cool bike for a big cc widow maker, but I’d call it fair to poor condition, at best.

  10. 38ChevyCoupeGuy

    Wow! Brings back memories for sure.. My uncle had a 750 3 cyl, he would stand it up on the back wheel and go through our hometown, but sometimes he didn’t quite get to the second light. Lol. But definitely cool either way when I was 13-14 years old hanging out with my buddies on our bicycles, seeing who could get the most hangtime on the sidewalks. Good stuff.

  11. George mattar

    Howard. Kawasaki also held put until 1977 for two stroke triples. I still have my green 77 400 cc triple Kawi. I owned a 75 400 and 500 new. Also had a 750. I can say the best made and reliable street bikes almost ever and they were inexpensive. I paid $1,500 for a new blue 75 500 triple. Sold a brown 75 recently for $4,000. I also loved Suzuki with revolutionary ram air cover on the heads.

  12. ROTAG999

    The original 750 Honda’s never were very fast and bloated, but smooth and reliable they had that. When Kawasaki came out with the ZL1 that was a pretty quick scooter yes it had more cc’s.I have a 72 T250 Suzuki that is the follow up to the X-6 Hustler that was very fast and beat up on larger bike’s all the time.
    I also own a 77 Suzuki GS 750 in near mint condition, But ride my 2004 Thunderbird sport more then the other two.Ready to sell all of them as Father time and bad knee’s force me to along with cell phone aka distracted drivers.

    • ken tilly

      @ROTAG999. Don’t give up yet old boy. I will be 80 in August, also have bad knees etc. but still ride my 1986 Honda Rebel 450cc in the good weather. I just make sure that the bike is well balanced when I come to a stop so that I don’t have to put too much weight on my knees. I also have a 19339 Calthorpe Ivory Major 500cc Twin Port that I restored and put into a museum about 15 years ago which I intend to retrieve from the museum later this month as I also intend to ride that before I give up. That has a hand gear change as well so it should be fun in the UK traffic.

      • ROTAG999

        Thanks Ken

  13. Paul

    They should have left it in the barn for another 20 years

  14. stillrunners

    Yep – my dad started out on a 380 Suzuki that he and his cronies ran down to Mexico on. He finally moved up to one of these GT550’s…..never snuck it out – he was real proud of it and was a mileage checker kinda guy. Like was said Yamaha ran well up in to the late 70’s and the RZ350 Kenny Roberts special’s although water cooled were still 2 strokin’ until 1981.

  15. James Turner

    To G. Gagnon and Howard. What were you smoking or drinking that has you saying that a Ram air 380 2 stroke blew away a 750 4 stroke engine. LOL. 2 strokes are quicker off the line but then lose the power a 4 stroke has usually above 50 to 70 MPH. I have been biking over 43 years. The bikes I had that were fast and still fast in todays bike world were the 1982 Honda Custom CB 900 cc 4 cyl. 4 stroke and the 1 year only 1983 Honda CB Custom 1,000 cc. Both bikes had a low/ high range 5 speed tranny, Shaft drive, air suspension. Triple disc. brakes, Step seat with back rest and back short luggage rack. In low range it was as quick, Or quicker than 2 strokes but with more power range. Than after going through the 5 low range gears toward top end you could up shift on the separate range pedal to high range for more top end. Not that I did a lot of street/ Highway raceing, I was not afraid to run just about anything that anyone taunted me to run. I am 72 YO now and still riding a Suzuki Intruder 1400 glp. street type cruiser. The 4 cyl. inline bikes were a lot smoother running and rideing.

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