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Steve McQueen Honda Movie

After mentioning him so much, finally here’s Steve McQueen. Lord knows what Honda paid for him to appear in 1973’s Elsinore ads and this promotional footage. Or maybe he just wanted one, the best dirt bike of its day. And Honda’s first two-stroke. Soichiro hated strokers, stating publically that “Honda will never build a two-stroke motorcycle”. When he came across the NS500 triple in the factory – built long before the NR project by staff desperate to return to GP racing - he was told it was for a lawnmower. It was actually built around the 125 Elsinore motor. Honda-san’s change of heart came down to three things. In 1973 he retired as president, the result of his opposition to water cooling which had been disastrous for the car division. Secondly he was pathologically competitive as well as pathologically anti-strokers. He loved racing but hated losing: including in the showroom. So when the two-stroke engineers finally summoned the courage to show Soichiro the Elsinore he grudgingly approved. But he warned them “If you insist on a two-stroke, it better be the best in the world.” The Elsinore was just that and changed the face of US motocross. Named after the Elsinore Grand Prix, as seen in On Any Sunday, the original 250 didn’t even have the Honda name on show, just an Elsinore sticker on the fuel tank. Originally listed as the MT250 it soon became the CR250M with a Honda decal on the tank and became the tool of choice for legions of motocrossers. It was light, fast, and reliable— and years ahead of European machines in user friendliness. The Elsinore had an aluminium tank, magnesium engine cases and plastic mudguards. The Jones brothers, Gary and DeWayne, along with their father Don, developed the Elsinore for racing, and Gary went on to win the 1973 AMA 250 National title on an Elsinore. That launched a 34-year run of Honda 125 and 250 two-strokes. The CR250M was launched first, but it was the CR125 that had the biggest impact on rank-and-file riders in the US, the bike that changed everything. There’s much of Honda’s early history in my Honda V4 book via my bio link. And swipe left for more images18w

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