Honda 300 Dream: The motorcycle that established American Honda Motors
They seemed so much bigger when we were kids growing up in Anytown U.S.A.. Honda Motor Company of Japan had landed on U.S. shores, Los Angeles Ca.1959 and was largely ignored by the competition.
As Honda’s initial sales force of 5, entered an unknown market with nothing more than the iconic Honda 50 Cub and a line of affordable portable gasoline powered generators, American motorcycle icons Harley Davidson, Indian, Triumph and B.S.A. had no idea what impact this motorcycle manufacturer from Japan would have on the future of American motorsports and automotives.
The first thing one recognizes when walking up on a 50 + year old Honda C77 Dream, is how cutting edge the design was for mid century America. The Hogs and Triumphs of the day were utilitarian and kick started. The Honda? Molded, chromed and came with an electric starter and turn signals.
The motorcycle’s design lines actually hold up well today. Although no larger in dimension than most modern scooters, the sweeping line of the frame, molded drop tail fender and chromed tank guard has the same appeal as an Arness customized Metric or domestic cruzer.
You just want to get on your knees and study every aspect of the wonder that changed the world of 2 wheel and eventually 4 wheel transportation.
What the 250cc and 305cc Honda Dream offered and the competition couldn't touch was affordable reliability.
While the dream produced a mere 28.5 hp at an unheard of red-line of 9,000 rpm, it did so without leaking oil, blowing electrical fuses and requiring an inordinate amount of mechanical tinkering and maintenance. This was the appeal of the Dream for both Rider and passenger.
The 2 cylinder 4 stroke overhead cam engine didn’t shake the operator to numbness while leaking oil on his girlfriend's leg.
It was civilized and trouble free to ride. The Dream was fully capable of attaining speeds of 100 mph and had front and rear wheel mechanical drum brakes large enough to effectively stop the bike. Something that Harley and Triumph didn’t do very well in the day.
Honda produced the 165, 250 and 300 Honda Dream for 10 years before evolving into the mother of all Enduro Motorcycles, the 305 Honda Scrambler.
By the late 1960s Honda was a fixture in Los Angeles, Ca..
The company had expanded its product line to include motorcycles from the 50cc Cub to the 300 Dream.
By 1961 Honda was selling more than 1000 motorcycles per month in the U.S.A.. At that time the largest motorcycle manufacturer in Japan, Honda would soon grow to a major presence in the U.S. on the wings of an advertising campaign slogan, “ you meet the nicest people on a Honda.”
The introduction of the 1972 Honda Civic to U.S. markets, would transform the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer into a viable automotive presence in North America. As they say, “ the rest is history”.
As we walked away from the fully restored Honda 300 Dream, I was reminded of a 9 year old boy pushing a salt air rusted Dream down the streets of a small coastal town. It was heavy and unyielding. Tires flattened by time, the smell of stale gasoline smacked his nose as he twisted the cap off the chrome tank. Never to run, but none the less a memorable experience for this journalist.