By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
This is a major year for 50th anniversary celebrations in Japan. We already reported on the Toyota 2000GT and Mazda Cosmo sports cars. Now let’s turn to two-wheeled vehicles and take a look at the Honda Monkey. Honda what? We’ll explore the roots of this minibike in a moment. First, let’s look at today’s announcement from Honda in Japan.
Honda plans to build just 500 units of the 50cc Monkey 50th Anniversary Special edition (shown above and below). It features abundant chrome-plated parts including the fenders, fuel tank, headlight case and side cover.
For a “chic” monotone look, the frame, wheels and other components have a black finish while the seat receives a checkered pattern. A special winged 3D-badge adorns the fuel tank and side cover, back of the seat and key.
Looks totally cool, right? “So how do we get one?” Well, unless you live in Japan you’re out of luck. And even then, the chances of ownership for this special model are pretty slim. Honda says it will accept applications in an “open lottery from July 21 to August 21, 2017” on a special website for Japanese consumers only.
The price for this limited edition is ¥432,000 (about $3,900) including consumption tax. The announcement also says that this is the “final model of the 50cc Monkey.”
Update: The above video that was streamed live from Honda in Japan on Aug. 26, 2017, highlights the Monkey’s 50th Anniversary celebration and includes special presentations and interviews with designers and staff from Honda R&D. (video: Honda)
Honda has released other special editions of the Monkey over the years. For example, the above photo shows the Monkey “Kumamon” version from 2014. Kumamon is the PR mascot character of Kumamoto prefecture.
This fun video from Honda (in Japanese) introduced the Monkey Kumamon model and also showed the Kumamon character riding the minibike! (video: Honda)
Turning the clock back to 2009, the Monkey received a full model change that brought it up to date for the first time in 30 years. The 50cc air-cooled 4-stroke single-cylinder engine gained a fuel-injection system (PGM-FI) that Honda said improved fuel efficiency and drivability.
The above photo shows the 1967 Monkey Z50M, the first mass-produced Honda Monkey model for Japanese domestic use that could be driven on public roads. A spinoff called the Z50A Mini Trail with a bit more aggressive styling was sold in America in the late 1960s and ’70s.
Here’s a video from the Honda Collection Hall in Japan where a technician rides a restored 1967 Z50M Monkey on a short loop. (video: Honda)
Honda says the roots of the model originate from the Monkey Z100 (above) that was made for the “Tama Tech” amusement park in Hino City, Tokyo in 1961. The minibike was popular with kids and was eventually exhibited at shows overseas, leading to the production version in 1967.
For more information about the Honda Monkey, visit the Honda consumer website in Japan.
News source, photos and videos courtesy the copyright holder, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. Features, specifications, prices and launch dates for Japanese market models are subject to change without notice by the manufacturer.
Story (text) © 2017 CarNichiWa.com