Small Bike, Huge Impact: Honda Produces 100 Millionth Super Cub! ""

By | October 20, 2017

1958 and 2017 Honda Super Cubs

If you were to ask the average casual American motorist which vehicle currently in production is the single most significant product in Honda’s history, the answer would likely be the Civic or the Accord. Ask a bike nerd, and you’ll get the correct answer: the inimitable Super Cub motorcycle, first introduced in 1958. After all, Honda has produced 100 million of the sturdy little bikes.

Brought to the United States in 1959, during Honda’s push to break out beyond the Japan market—the company also was making its first exploratory runs at the Isle of Man TT at the same time—the little Super Cub, for all its friendliness, was serious business for the young company. And it was unlike any motorcycle that had come before. A decade earlier, the Italian Vespa and Lambretta scooters had reinvented two-wheeled personal transport, and while the Honda kept the Italians’ useful leg shield to keep the rider’s lower extremities protected from the elements, it added larger wheels for greater stability as well as a bulletproof gem of a four-stroke engine during an era when small-displacement engines tended to be two-stroke designs.

It was sold as the Honda 50 and later as the Passport in the States, due to Piper’s use of the Super Cub name for its light airplane. The basic Super Cub design has seen updates, upgrades, and displacement increases over the years. But pull off the badges and park a ’58 Super Cub next to a 2017 model; there’s no doubt that they’re the same bike. Try that with a ’58 Impala and today’s automobile that wears the same badge.



Earlier this week, Honda celebrated the building of the 100 millionth Super Cub at its Kumamoto factory. Consider that for a second. VW built about 21.5 million Beetles over the rear-engined, air-cooled model’s run. Ford built just 15 million Model Ts, and we tend to consider those the two most successful automobiles of all time. The long-running Issigonis-designed Mini? Less than 5.4 million. Perhaps even more interesting is that Honda only built its 20 millionth Super Cub in 1992, which means it has built 80 million of the historic bikes in just the past 25 years. Even crazier? Honda has churned out 40 million of them since 2009. The company hasn’t sold the Super Cub in the United States for years, but in countries around the world, the venerable bike is a key to personal transport.

So let us take a moment to celebrate the wee Super Cub. Without it, there might be no NSX, no Odyssey, no CRX, no Civic, and no Accord. Which means our 10Best Cars list over the past few decades would have looked very, very different.


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