Honda Celebrates 60th Anniversary in U.S. by… Restoring a Chevrolet Apache?
Company Thanks Chevy for the Pickups that Delivered Motorcycles to Honda Dealers in 1960s
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. first opened for business in June 1959, and the engineering giant is celebrating its 60th anniversary in an unconventional way: restoring another automaker's vehicle. That's because shortly after American Honda opened its doors, it purchased a fleet of Chevrolet pickups to deliver products to its first motorcycle dealers in Southern California.
An archive photo from around 1961 depicts a Chevy pickup parked in front of American Honda's original office in Los Angeles. The company then undertook a painstaking restoration of a 1961 Chevrolet Apache 10 to match the photo, using historical archives and memories of retired Honda employees to guide the project.
The end result is pretty fantastic. The 1/2-ton Apache, which features a Chevrolet 283 V-8 and three-speed manual transmission, boasts the same hand-painted graphics as the original truck, laid on top of Chevrolet factory white bodywork. Matching Honda 50 and CB160 motorbikes in the truck's 8-foot bed drive the neo-vintage point even further.
Honda credits those original trucks for much of the company's success in America. The company's fledgling motorcycle dealers in the 1960s sold bikes on a consignment basis, with each delivered to the retailer by salesmen driving the Chevy trucks. Within a decade of its launch in the U.S., American Honda was the best-selling motorcycle brand in the country (in 1965, its market share was a whopping 72 percent).
The Chevrolet Apache was first revealed at Honda's 60th anniversary celebration on June 11, which took place at the company's massive Torrance, California, headquarters complex. In addition to the cosmetics, Honda gave the pickup a mechanical refresh to keep it roadworthy.
The company also recently restored the truck's cargo as well. The red 1965 50 "Super Cub" is arguably the machine that helped make Honda a household name, offering an easy ownership experience and charming styling to customers of all ages and backgrounds. One of the company's first sport bikes, a 1965 CB160, rides alongside the Super Cub. With true motorcycle styling and a compact, easy-to-ride package, the CB160 was a good in-betweener for folks outgrowing their Super Cubs but not quite ready to shell out the cash for bigger, faster bikes. Fun, interesting machines like these are what inspired the company's legendary tagline, "You meet the nicest people on a Honda."
Since its launch in the late 1950s as a motorcycle manufacturer, American Honda has gone on to produce a massively successful lineup of mainstream (Honda) and luxury (Acura) cars, as well as small-engine lawn equipment, powersports like the Talon side-by-side UTV, and even aviation products like the HondaJet and the GE Honda HF120 turbofan engine.
Source: American Honda Motor Co., Inc.