Saturday, December 27, 2014

Soichiro Honda, his autograph,the Cub and the London to Brighton Run

Soichiro Honda on Madeira Drive, Brighton.
When I was young my father regularly took me along to spectate the London to Brighton Veteran Car Club Run. Back then there was a classic car show held at the same weekend at the Grand Hotel, the same place as was bombed by the IRA when the Conservative annual conference was held there. In 1985 we went to the show first and then watched the cars come in along Madeira Drive. At the show we wondered around the autojumble and, bike nerd that I was from an early age, I picked up this early sixties Honda Cub brochure.

As we were mingling with the arriving cars one rolled up carrying a guy who was attracting a lot of attention. It turned out to be Soichiro Honda. At the time he was 79 years old and he looked quite cold and tired (London to Brighton on the back roads in a veteran car is a fair journey for anyone and the weather on the Downs in November is usually grim). Undeterred by his weary state and the throng of spectators I hustled forward with my Cub brochure and asked him for his autograph. He was a gentleman, extremely polite and obliged with a signature slightly shaky from the cold. I like to think that he was flattered that a young lad from England was in awe enough to request his autograph (it's the only one I've ever asked for in my whole life) brandishing a copy of a brochure for his meisterwerk and this is why he signed as opposed to simply being taken aback and not wanting to say no. I did feel slightly bad after as he obviously just wanted a cup of warm tea and I opened the flood gates of autograph hunters and hand shakers.

The signed brochure has become one of my most treasured possessions and as time has passed my admiration for Soichiro Honda has increased. That the Cub is the greatest motorcycle ever designed and produced is nowadays not a particularly controversial view. Soichiro Honda is an absolute hero of the twentieth century and possibly did more to improve the lives, lifestyles and affluence of people in developing nations than any other person. The Cub brought cheap and dependable transportation to the masses.

Honda Cub brochure front side (folded out).

Honda Cub brochure rear side (folded out).
Check out the signature at the bottom!

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