June 26, 2019

Celebrating 60 Years In America, Honda Restores Its Chevy Pickup

Celebrating 60 Years In America, Honda Restores Its Chevy Pickup

Honda celebrated its 60th anniversary in America during June and will mark 40 years of production in America this September.  The Honda that established a beachhead in a small storefront in Los Angeles six decades ago now employs more than 31,000 employees.

Those include workers who build Civics, CR-Vs, and Insights in Greensburg, Indiana. Honda Accords and Acura NSX sports cars hail from Ohio while the Odyssey mini-van and Ridgeline pickup are assembled in Alabama.  Honda has come a very long way in America, and to celebrate, it has restored one of its earliest assets:  A 1961 Chevrolet Apache 10 Pickup.

In the early days, Honda used a fleet of Chevy pickups to transport motorcycles – because it didn’t build automobiles – to dealers in Southern California.  An historic picture shows one of these trucks at the company’s first office at 4077 Pico Blvd. in L.A.  Restorers acquired a similar half-ton pickup and replicated the original factory white paint scheme and hand-painted graphics. 

To complete the package, a wooden toolbox and two period motorcycles, a Honda 50 and CB160, were added to the bed.  It will eventually be shown at the 2019 SEMA Show, but is currently on display in the lobby of American Honda’s Torrance, California headquarters.

Take a look at the specs and you realize Chevy pickups have come nearly as far as Honda over the many years.  The Apache 10 rides on a half-ton chassis with an 8-foot bed and runs with a 160 horsepower 283 cu. in. V8 connected to the rear axle through a “three on the tree” manual transmission. 

The motorcycles are just as cool.  The red 1965 Honda 50, more commonly known as the Super Cub, parks on the left side of the bed.  It represents one of Honda’s earliest big successes and was advertised with the marketing campaign, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”.  It runs with a 49 cc single-cylinder engine and 3-speed transmission.

On the other side of the bed is an original 1965 CB160, a popular small sport bike and a big hit for Honda.  Restored to perfect condition last year, it has a tubular steel frame, 16.5 horsepower 161 cc SOHC vertical twin engine, 4-speed manual transmission, and electric starter. 

If Honda needed to transport motorcycles to dealers today, it could run a ramp into the bed of its unibody Ridgeline pickup and get them there with an 280 horsepower 3.5-liter V6, connected to the all-wheel-drive system through an 6-speed automatic transmission.  Five fit aboard comfortably.  Much has changed since Honda came ashore so many years ago, but the automaker’s spirit and respect for tradition holds true – even if it means restoring a Chevy.

Storm Forward!

Send questions and comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey.

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