An offroad masterpiece, the Yankee Z’s creator called it “everything for everybody.” This model was capable of incredible speeds and the torque to handle even the most rugged terrain with ease, agility, and control. Check out how this dirtbike left other superbikes, motorcycles, and scooters in its dust.
A Dream Bike
In the 1960s, John Taylor was a well-known name in the motorcycle industry, having made carved his legacy as the American importer of Ossa and Bultaco brands. But that just wasn’t enough. Why settle for amazing when you can have perfect?
Taylor mulled over this question for a couple of years before partnering with a few other designers to found the Yankee Motor Company and to create his dream motorcycle, the 1971 Yankee 500 Z Twin.
Designed to Be Universal
Taylor wanted this bike to be a little bit of this and that and everything in between, so he set off at the turn of the decade to design what came to be an instant classic.
The prototype model was crafted from a 460cc Ossa model designed for road racing, which Taylor’s connections remodeled into a 500cc off-road, dirt track racer capable of speeds at about 90 miles per hour.
Timeline of Versions with Changes
Only one model of the Yankee Z was ever created. Then again, with the masterclass design and virtually flawless universality of this superbike, how could anybody possibly have improved it? To avoid change for change’s sake, the Yankee Motor Company stuck with just the original design.
- Yankee 500 Z Twin (1971-1972)
Production of the Yankee Z only lasted two short years, but that’s all it took to cement its place in the history of dirt-track racing.
The entire bike was, for lack of a better word, cannibalized, from a 460cc Ossa designed for paved road racing. The engine was specifically crafted by merging together together two 250cc Ossa engine halves for a total displacement of 500cc.
With incredibly high torque compared to other dirt-track racers of the time, this motorcycle was capable of much better tracking and control on muddy or loose-dirt tracks making it a favorite among racers.
The Yankee in the News
Although dirt-track racers might spend their nights dreaming about the Yankee Z coming back into production, that, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. Hardly any news of the Yankee, good or bad, has hit the presses in decades.
Yankees on the Screen
No, you’re not likely to find any films or TV shows depicting the Yankee Z in action. Unfortunately, you won’t likely find any celebrities sporting Yankee Zs either. They’re just that rare.
With such a rare bike as the Yankee Z, it can prove challenging to find social groups for owners. Typically, social groups for fans are easy enough to come by with any preeminent classic such as this, but that’s not the case either with the Yankee Z.
The Yankee 500 Z Twin – “Everything for Everybody”
The versatility, the control, and the power of a Yankee Z cause this masterpiece to leave a permanent mark on the minds of everybody lucky enough to ride one. Will you be one of those people? Good luck finding a collector willing to sell.