Early Honda Four-Stroke – 1953 Honda Dream Model 3E

In Japan, Standard, Vintage by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

Just prior to the dawn of the 1950s, Honda debuted its very first complete motorcycle. A year or two later, the company got cracking on the development of a new four-stroke engine. In the spring of ’51, Honda’s then director, Kiyoshi Kawashima, was tasked with developing the new 145cc mill. By July of that same year a prototype was completed and then put through its paces at the famous Hakone Pass. In October of ’51, Honda finally unveiled the Dream Model E.

While Honda was far from the first manufacturer to produce a four-stroke power plant, Soichiro’s brand’s bikes featured overhead valves instead of the much more common side valves. The Model E also boasted a multiple plate dry clutch operated via the rider’s left hand. In ’52, the company released the Dream Model 2E — a machine very similar to its predecessor, albeit with a sightly larger 160cc engine. The following year, Honda debuted the 3E which utilized a 145cc variant of the same engine as the 2E, but was given a three-speed gearbox (instead of the older two-speed). The 3E was superseded in ’54 by the larger 220cc Model 4E, and the 190cc Model 6E.

Both Honda’s two and four-stroke machines from the mid-century were supposedly markedly faster than many of the cheaper Japanese offerings of the era, helping the company to further a grow its reputation for producing quality products (though the 4E undid some of the work). At this point in time, Honda hadn’t yet started exporting bikes to US shores (that reportedly didn’t start until around ’57), making Dream Model E examples rare finds in the States. According to Mecum, Honda was heavily influenced by the NSU when developing the 3E.

This particular 1953 3E example was purchased in Japan by its second (and current) owner. This matching numbers specimen has reportedly been stored indoors, and is sporting wheel hubs off the older 2E instead of the 3E’s oval wheel hubs. It also happens to be rocking its original drive chain and sprockets. Earlier this year, the bike underwent an extensive restoration, rechroming a myriad of parts, rebuilding the engine and carb, replacing the wiring loom and rear lens, overhauling the headlight, installing new tires, and getting repainted using an “enamel similar to the Honda’s”.

Only six (or so) miles have been put on the 3E since its engine rebuild, and according to the seller this example is in stellar mechanical shape, starting on the first kick, boasting good compression, and running smoothly. The electrical system is also said to be in tiptop shape, and the seller says “charging is great”. Because of the rarity of the Dream 3E, it’s a little tricky to hone in on a price, but a June 2017 Mecum auction saw a concours ’53 3E Dream go for $29K.

You can find this 1953 Honda Dream 3E for sale here on HondaTwins.net with a price of $32,500.

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