The Honda Super Cub


640px-1972_Honda_C70Of all the vehicles in all the nations in all the continents of the entire world, there is none as ubiquitous as the Honda Super Cub. Better known in the UK as the C-series (C50, C70 and C90) and here beloved most of all by training London cabbies and pizza delivery boys, this little step through is officially the best selling vehicle in history.

It is estimated that the Honda Corporation has old over 60 Million units of the iconic little bike, which celebrated its 50th birthday in 2008. But not only has the Super Cub been seen as a cipher for utilitarian transport for over half a century, it has inspired some of the most fervent dedication known to man. Little wonder, because the friendly, colour-coded body designed by Johzaburo Kimura is an all-time classic, and has encapsulated the approachable brand values of Honda since the very beginning.

Honda took up the challenge of providing a small, high-performance, low-cost bike that could be used throughout the world, by mounting a 4-stroke 50cc engine on a chassis that was easy to both ride and had a transmission system that was easy for urbanites from sixteen to seventy to operate. The Super Cub was the first truly reliable two-wheeled run-around at a time when the majority of people all over the world were still recovering from the economic ravages of the Second World War. Sales easily outstripped European-made scooters made by Vespa and Lambretta. Modish scooters might have been cool, but up until very recently they were notoriously unreliable. But though in the UK the Super Cub has never been hip, in other parts of the world they have achieved real cult status, particularly amongst the yoof. The Beach Boys, for example gave wings to the cult of the Super Cub in California with their ‘Little Honda’ (Spot the Ferrari 250 Lusso, the E-Type and the ‘Vette in the video) that only narrowly escaped being released as a single in 1965. And the web is littered with very personal homage to the machine. The love-letter to the design is encapsulated beautifully in the video below, complete with soul-stirring tune by Burt Bacharach.

With the recent explosion in popularity of all sorts of newly designed scooters, mini bikes and mopeds, the Supercub’s retro design, combined with its tried-and-tested bombproof construction, is still one of the world’s favourites.