1962 Honda C100 Cub: The first of 87 million
Engine 49cc, OHC, air-cooled, single Power 4.5bhp Weight 90kg
“This is a bike everyone in the world will recognise – the Honda Cub. This actual model is one of the very first made and despite its 1962 title, it could have been built earlier. The very first C100s were the Japanese domestic versions with their single seat but this bike does have a small stubby tail light, which was replaced by one on a bracket on 1963-onwards models so it is certainly an early production bike.
“The Cub is the best-selling vehicle in the whole world and put Honda on the global map. The actual numbers sold are a bit hazy, but I hear figures of 87 million Cubs built in various guises and it was the machine sold under the ‘you meet the nicest people on a Honda’ advertising campaign slogan,” says David.
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“The Cub mobilised the world and it had a number of unique features that ensured its popularity. The clutch system, which automatically activates when you push the gear lever down, was called the ‘crunchy gearbox’ due to the noise it made but was ideal for noodle delivery boys who could hand their noodles over with their left hand rather than have to use a clutch lever. Also, the 17in wheels could take on any road, the plastic shroud and step-through design gave weather protection, it was a true class leader and made Honda’s name. So much so, that many people believe Honda actually started in 1958 when the Cub was built, when it actually made its first bike in 1946 with the Honda Technical Research Institute. The Cub marked the point when Honda started to mass export and grow as a company – it was the bedrock the company was built on.
“Interestingly, the first Cubs weren’t named after their capacity, unlike the later C-models. So the C100 actually has a 49cc engine where the later C90 had an 89cc engine.”
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