The Super Cub spawned the “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign, which did much to counteract the idea that motorcycledom was only for outlaw hardasses.
Few consumer products, let alone motor vehicles, have achieved this level of success
It’s safe to say that the Honda Super Cub isn’t just a vehicle: It’s a veritable phenomenon. Since its introduction in August 1958, the groovy little motorbike has sold a remarkable 100 million units worldwide. And it seems like its popularity is, amazingly enough, accelerating. Now built in 15 countries, the Super Cub 20 million milestone was achieved in 1992…50 million in 2005…and 60 million in 2008. If we’re doing the math right, it should reach 200 million by next Tuesday.
That 100 million number reaffirms its status as far and away the most popular motor vehicle ever produced. It’s not even a close competition: The best-selling car of all time is the Corolla with a mere 40 million sold, but given how much Toyota’s standby has changed since its introduction in 1966, comparisons with the Ford Model T (16,500,000 sold) are perhaps more accurate. Like the Tin Lizzie, the Super Cub is a truly universal vehicle — and quite probably the first mass-produced one seen in any numbers in many of the countries where it was sold. A workhorse in developing nations, it was also a lot of folks’ introduction to two-wheeled fun in markets like the U.S.
The Honda Super Cub motorcycle is the most-produced motor vehicle in human history, with total production closing in fast on 100 million units since the first 50cc Super Cub went on sale in 1958. You …
Why has the Super Cub enjoyed both success and longevity? You could write a book on the topic, but if we had to venture a guess, it’s that Honda designed it to be slightly more sophisticated than it needed to be at the start. That extra upfront effort has allowed the basic formula to endure for decades: an air-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder (notable in an age when inexpensive two-strokes were commonplace) in a versatile step-through frame, a rear swingarm suspension (the leading link front was eventually replaced by a telescopic fork) with front and rear drum brakes.
There have been changes — different displacements for different markets, the switch from overhead valve to overhead cam engines, electronic fuel injection — plus a handful of spinoff models, but again, if you put a 1958 Super Cub C100 next to a brand-new Super Cub 110, it’s shocking just how little has changed.
Honda has put together a little online celebration of the Super Cub; you can take a deep dive into its history here. If the company really wanted to honor the wonderful little machine, though, we say they should reintroduce it to the U.S. market; there’s been a Super Cub-shaped hole in the U.S. scooter market since 1983. What do you think?