Honda makes 300-millionth motorcycle

Honda Motor Co. has hit a milestone: its 300-millionth motorcycle.

The milestone vehicle, a 40th anniversary edition of the company's flagship Gold Wing touring bike, was produced at Honda's Kumamoto factory in Japan.


Honda's first two-wheeled machine was the 1949 Dream Type D, a single-cylinder, two-stroke, 100cc that featured a then-unusual semi-automatic clutch.

Almost a decade later, the company introduced the Honda 50, aka the Super Cub, and began its conquest of the U.S. It was the cornerstone of the "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda" ad campaign of the 1960s. Honda sold 90 million of the small bikes.

The company began its first overseas production in Belgium in 1963. Today, Honda builds bikes at 32 plants in 22 countries.

Honda passed the 100-million mark in 1997.

Bill Silver, a Honda historian and author of "Classic Honda Motorcycles" and "History of the Honda Scrambler," believes the company's resilience is the result of founder Soichiro Honda's obsession with building bikes that were well-engineered, safe and reliable -- and, above all, convenient.

Indeed, Silver points out, one of the company's early machines was called a Benly -- an Americanized version of the Japanese word "benri," which means "convenient."

He was obsessed with the quality of materials and the quality of the manufacturing process," the San Diego-based Silver said. "Honda never quit improving the product."

Twitter: @misterfleming