Honda Motorcycles: Early years to present day racing
A vintage Honda motorcycle.
A vintage Honda motorcycle.

A very unique exhibit of exceptional vintage Honda Motorcycles to be shown at the California Oil Museum. Opening June 20 with a reception to meet the collector, Ron Mousouris, from 1-3pm. Nine motorcycles will be on display from 1952 to 1967 with one beautiful 1994 rare racing machine. These are from the collection of Ron Mousouris of Carpenteria. Hours are Wed – Sun 10am to 4pm. Admission is $4 Adults, $3 Seniors, $1 Students 6-17 and 5 & under are free.

One of the featured bikes is a 1954 Honda Benly J. The name "Benly" is a slightly altered Japanese word that translates to mean "convenient" in English. The Benly J of 1954 was the first Honda motorcycle ever to be raced in international competition. It was raced in Sao Paolo Brazil endurance race.

The Benly J was designed by Soichiro Honda, the founder of the Honda Corporation. Mr. Honda employed Mr. Kyoshi Kawashima, to assist with development of the engine and suspension. Mr Kawashima who was the very first employee of the Honda Company became president of the Honda Corporation when Mr. Honda retired.
The Honda Benly J represented the biggest gamble the Honda Company ever took on. There were over 140 motorcycle manufacturers in Japan during the 1950s. Had the 1954 Benly failed for any reason it would have meant almost certain death for Honda.

Here are a few key design features

1. 89cc single cylinder, 4 stroke pushrod activated over head valves.
2. Unitary swingarm/engine (the engine pivots in the frame with the swingarm
3. Inverted telescopic front suspension
4. Monoshock torsion block rear suspension
5. Reverse pivot brake an clutch levers
6. This example raced at the Mt Asama races of 1954
7. Never sold outside Japan

Vintage Honda collector and master restorer, Ron Mousouris, started hanging out at the local Honda shop during the “Summer of Love” in 1967. In September of ’69, when the first Sapphire Blue Honda CL350 Scrambler was uncrated at the shop, his sense of urgency peaked. The Honda CL350 cost $810 new and he had saved about $600. The shop owner recognized that the only way to get Ron to stop hanging around the shop all the time was to get him a bike. He let Ron work off the balance in his service department.

Ron rode the CL350 with reckless abandon every day for three months. One evening in late November he walked to the garage to find his Honda gone…Stolen. The vacancy in the garage felt like a crushing weight. “I wasn’t a particularly skilled rider at the time so the perpetrator may well have saved me from injury or worse”, said Ron. “In any case the life lesson that I have carried with me ever since is that a healthy person should acquire motorcycles regularly and often. This principle can also be applied to spouses. I have seen it done. For me though, it has always been motorcycles”.

What: Honda Motorcycles: Early Years to Present Day Racing
Where: City of Santa Paula’s California Oil Museum
When: June 20 to September 26
More information: Jeanne Orcutt, 805-933-0076 ext 291,