Liquid cooling, horizontally opposed cylinders and shaft drive had not exactly been in Honda’s vocabulary until 1973, when the company’s Project 371 aimed for a new level of power and luxury. The result changed all parameters for a touring bike. It was the 1975 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing, named for the figure on Honda’s traditional badge, and it seemed like overkill upon introduction in 1975. Even so, praise for the smooth power delivery and low center of gravity was convincing. Innovations could be found everywhere.
Liquid-cooling was new for Honda. The Gold Wing’s radiator governed location of other components, including four 32mm Keihin carburetors operating with a single cable-driven linkage, which needed cool air. Ultimately, the fuel tank, which had capacity of 5.0 gallons, moved to a location beneath the seat, and the false tank up high included a small glove box and even a detached kickstart lever to back up the electric starter. Because of a torque steer tendency, the gear-driven alternator counter-rotated, negating the effect. The cylinders’ bore and stroke of 72.0mm x 61.4 mm resulted in displacement of 999cc, and compression was 9.2:1. The flat four’s output of 80 hp at 7,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft resulted in a 13-second quarter-mile at more than 100 mph—not bad for a bike whose weight is given as high as 650 pounds. With a 32-inch seat height and bulging sides, the Gold Wing did look a bit porky. Tastes changed, though, encouraged by the thought that, for $2,895, it was a relative bargain.