2. 1953 Honda

Barber Museum 1953 Honda

The first Honda motorcycles arrived on U.S. shores in 1959, but Soichiro’s early two-wheelers came into existence a decade earlier. This 1953 Honda is one of a few remaining models of the time and features an air-cooled, 145cc Single pumping out 5.5 hp and borrowed heavily from German engineering of the time, particularly N.S.U., which were dominating the contemporary racing scene. As we know now, Honda intensely studied the leading manufacturers of the time, engineering better, more reliable machines based on the lessons learned.

It’s extremely rare to find early examples of Honda motorcycles like this one, especially here in America. Some were shipped back by returning servicemen, but because there were no spare parts to be found, most ended up in salvage yards. However, the Honda brand as we know it now can trace its roots back to this machine.