A decade after Soichiro Honda built his first Dream motorcycle, the company opened its American outlet on West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles in June of 1959. The motorcycle industry had sold 50,000 bikes a year in the U.S. for the past 10 years, but that was about to change as Honda reached out to an audience outside of the traditional bike market with ground-breaking advertising campaigns like the famous “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”.
The 50 cc step- through Cub attracted non-riders, but the 250 cc and 305 cc Honda C77 Dream Touring were aimed at riders of European and American machines. Honda had been impressed by the NSU Rennmax and Supermax designs he’d seen in Europe in the mid-1950s and while he followed the idea of a pressed-steel frame, he improved just about every other element of the bikes.
Honda’s 250 cc and 305 cc four-stroke parallel twins had a chain-driven overhead camshaft, horizontally split crankcase (minimizing leaks), ball-bearing crankshaft and an electric starter. Dreams used a 360-degree crankshaft, so both pistons rose together but fired alternately. The engine developed 23 bhp at 7,500 rpm, top speed was 90 mph, and gas mileage was estimated at 102 mpg. A single 22 mm Keihin carburetor provided fuel, and the exhaust pipes were double walled. There was a wet clutch and a four-speed gearbox, and the Dream weighed in at 372 lbs.
Aesthetically, the Dream was unlike any other motorcycle sold in the U.S., with lines that were angular instead of curved. It appeared substantial, with chrome-sided “toaster” fuel tank, color-keyed double seat, fully faired fenders, covered battery and toolbox. The headlight was square, and the forks were pressed steel, with leading-link suspension and hydraulic shock absorbers. The chain was fully enclosed to prevent oil splashing on clothes, and the heavy chrome mufflers were mounted low.
As the Honda CA77, this model would continued almost unchanged until 1969, with only a new fuel tank shape in 1964 distinguishing between early and late examples. Production halted with the arrival of the 750 cc four-cylinder CB 750 in 1969. The Dream was available in red, white, blue and black, and often ran on whitewall tires.
While numerous models accompanied the Honda Dream throughout the 1960s, including the CA 100 Honda 50, CB 92 Benly Super Sport 150, CB 77 Super Hawk and CL 77 Scrambler, the Dream that was the stylistic icon that launched all these other machines. While the Hawk, Super Hawk and Super Sport gained telescopic forks and backbone frames, the Dream kept pressed steel units until the end.
As with most extreme styling exercises, there was a period when the Dream fell very far out of fashion. Its construction also did not lend itself to sitting outdoors in bad weather, and many were scrapped. Good survivors are increasingly hard to find, and they are not cheap to restore. NOS body parts are very hard to find, and replacements mufflers are extremely expensive. A respectable Honda motorcycle collection would be incomplete without one, though, as it was one of the models that set Honda on a path to greatness in the motorcycle world.