Restoration Wednesday, Basket Case 1984 Honda Elite 125

posted in: Restoration Wednesday | 2

World situations what they are, I’ve been home working on projects in my garage and decided to dust off my blog. I’m always buying and fixing things despite not writing about them. I can’t help myself from finding some clapped out treasure in the trades and figuring out how to put it back together. After selling my ’71 911T, I turned a pocket full of kyrptonite into project scooters. Turns out I really like them, specifically, Honda scooters. My first scooter was a 1985 Honda Aero 50 black over red. I bought it with the money I made cutting lawns in the neighborhood when I was 14 and 15 years old. The “over red” meant red seat and red foot well. I’ve been looking for one of those for years but talk about the clap, they are always burned up. The one I had wasn’t burned up when I sold it to buy my first car, a 1974 BMW 2002, but my shoes sure were. I used to pull wheelies on that scooter but because it didn’t have much power, I would throw my legs back and drag my feet to get it up on one wheel as I’d go through intersections on a green light. I thought I was cool. Consequently the diamonds on the soles of my shoes were skidded out on the the pavement.

It probably wasn’t by accident that I bought a Honda as my first scooter. Honda entered the scooter market in 1983 filling the void left by Vespa. I liken it to Mazda launching the 1990 Miata after the British convertible market dried up. One year after Honda came in, they made a splash with advertising led by Devo, Grace Jones and Lou Reed. In 1984 they introduced the Elite 125 with it’s infamous pop up headlight. It stands today as the first and the only scooter ever produced with a pop up headlight. The Elite CH125 available in red (Candy Ruby Red) or gold (Light Copper Metallic) was a one year only occurrence. For the 1985 model year, Honda bumped the size up to a 150 which topped out about 5-10 mph faster than the 125’s 52-55 mph top speed. They still offered the pop up headlight in the 150 Deluxe model for 1985 and 1986 before Honda dropped the mid-range cc engine in favor of a 250 and the smaller 80. With that fizzle my nizzle, the pop up headlight scooter closed forever. Waa, waa.


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This basket case was on Craigslist last summer in Grand Haven, the west side of Michigan about 2 1/2 hours from me. I stared at it everyday for a week before I called. It hadn’t run in years, had no key, was clearly stored outside and was missing who knows what although the owner said it was complete. I lamented for another six weeks then called the guy again and struck a deal on the phone before driving out there to get it. He said he’d sell it for what he paid, $300. Done. I’ll tell you why I thought it would be a decent bike worth saving. The seat wasn’t ripped and it only had 3,300 miles. Typically you see scooters with recovered seats or they are held together with duct tape. I figured this one lived an easy life, despite its current condition, and had potential. Getting into it at home, I realized it had been in a front end collision and all the front panels were cracked and warped. To make matters worse, whoever followed behind the drove-it-into-a-wall-guy, forgot to stop and rammed Goldilocks from behind cracking the license plate holder in half. Suffice it to say I see why it was parked and forgotten. I had my work cut out for me.


2 Responses

  1. Paul

    Hey Paul, it’s great to read another of your well written posts. Uncanny coincidence, when I collected the remaining parts from the 912, I was asked ‘what about the scooter’ and realised a 1900 mile Vespa had been thrown in without my knowledge. Thinking it would be rude to refuse, I fixed it up and applied for the documents & realised I knew the original owner. Put it on eBay this time last year and it was sold within an hour.
    The pop-up headlamp is SUPER-COOL on a scooter, have not seen that before, saving that is probably beyond most but you’re doing it. Looking forward to seeing progress on this one.
    All the best,

    • Groosh

      Thanks so much for reading Paul! Ummm… I would love to get a “thrown-in” Vespa with a car. You are a gentleman for accepting it. I’ll keep the posts going on this one. They are really unique.

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