- Restored 1961 Chevrolet Apache pickup faithfully recalls the fleet of similar Apaches that American Honda used as delivery vehicles in the company's early days.
- The authentically reproduced hand-painted graphics complement the Apache's 283-cubic-inch V-8 and three-speed manual transmission.
- Period-correct Honda 50 and CB160 motorcycles in the bed complete the effect.
It's no secret that the 1oBest Trucks and SUVs–winning Honda Ridgeline is one of C/D's favorite mid-size pickups, but long before Honda began making pickups, let alone importing four-wheeled vehicles of any type to the United States, it made its mark selling motorcycles in Southern California. Not just any motorcycles, but inexpensive, lightweight, and nonthreatening motorcycles that appealed to buyers of all socioeconomic backgrounds and basically reinvented the domestic motorcycle market. But with no Ridgeline to call on, the task of keeping Honda's fledgling dealer network stocked required some outside assistance, so Honda assembled a small fleet of 1961 Chevrolet Apache pickups. They were detailed in AHM livery, and the company's sales force used them to make deliveries to dealers on a consignment basis.
June 2019 marks American Honda's 60th anniversary, and to celebrate, the maker is revisiting those iconic Chevrolets and the role they played in launching the company here in the U.S. with a restored 1961 Chevrolet Apache 10 pickup presented in the classic AHM livery. So equipped, the trucks played a vital role in making Honda the number one selling motorcycle brand in the U.S in just a few short years.
Featuring a regular cab and an eight-foot bed, the Apache half-ton is powered by a 283-cubic-inch small-block V-8 mated to a three-speed manual transmission with the appropriate "three on the tree" column shift. The appliance-white exterior is accented by a painted red stripe and genuine hand-lettered graphics in red and gold.
Currently on display in the lobby of American Honda's headquarters in Torrance, California, the truck is scheduled to make the rounds at various Southern California vehicle gatherings and the 2019 SEMA show before returning to HQ.
Of course the story wouldn't be complete without a few Hondas of the two-wheeled variety along for the ride, and in the bed reside a 1965 Honda 50-known as the Super Cub outside the U.S.-and a 1965 Honda CB160. The Honda 50, advertised as the "nifty, thrifty Honda 50," played a significant role in Honda's stateside success due to its small size, easy rideability, and high cuteness factor. Featuring a 49-cc single-cylinder engine, a three-speed semi-automatic transmission with centrifugal clutch (three manfully shifted gears but no clutch lever), and lightweight-for-the-era pressed steel frame, the 50 epitomized Honda's "you meet the nicest people on a Honda" slogan. The CB160 features a 161-cc vertical twin engine rated for 16.5 horsepower, a four-speed manual transmission, electric start, and a tubular steel frame. Perfect for young riders moving up into a larger bike, the CB160 was a big hit for Honda thanks in part to its comparatively lightweight design and eye-opening reliability. This example was restored last year and is reportedly in perfect running order.
We're used to thinking of Honda as an international manufacturing giant with a huge research, design, manufacturing, and sales presence in the U.S. market. It's hard to believe it has only been 60 years since set up shop in the U.S., but motorsports enthusiasts of all stripes sure are glad they did.
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