Based upon Honda’s own parts manual information and the general worldwide base of knowledge concerning the mysterious 1959 CE71, the consensus has been that there were only 390 examples built before the whole project was scrapped in favor of the new-generation CB72/CB77 Super Hawks. Certainly, I have been a part of propagating the “390” stories in all of my writings to date.
Those few individuals I know who have restored or generally dabbled with these rare bikes have never seen a serial number beyond the legendary 390 mark, to the extent that it has never even been a point of discussion… until now!
Enthusiast Steve Taylor, a Sidney, Australia resident recently happened upon a ragged CE71 chassis located on a farm, many miles away from home. How he came to find it is probably a good story on its own, but the real story is that the frame number is CE71-10438 with engine number CE71E-10452!
The “body of knowledge” for these machines is sparse, of course. Supposedly, these bikes were built primarily for the US market, although this was the only bike built for America that didn’t have an “A” in the serial number, which generally designated the models for US consumption. The bulk of them did come to the States and my friend, the late Dr. Fred Bell, owned the #2 machine, both when it was new and later in life when we rediscovered it out in PA and he bought it back for restoration. After his passing, the bike disappeared under mysterious circumstances, along with the bulk of his collection of cars and motorcycles. After investigations by law enforcement and private investigators, an airplane hangar was discovered to contain some of the cars and motorcycles inside, including the CE71. The bike was subsequently sold back to investors in Japan, where it resides today.
Just about the time I had finished Fred’s bike, a second machine was offered to me from someone down in the Southeast, recovered from a barn that was being emptied and then torn down. Being “MrHonda” sometimes has its rewards and the owner recalled some brief conversation with me in years past, so contact me to see if I wanted to buy it before offering it out on eBay or the Cycle Trader. It was a rough one and most of it came together eventually. My friends in Japan made an offer, post eBay auction closing and it went off to him, along with a second CE71 which belonged to my friend Ray, up in Orange County. So, in a matter of about six months, I had my hands on three different CE71s, all with serial numbers well below the 390 threshold.
It would be hard for me to backtrack and correct all the writings I have produced stating that only 390 CE71s were produced, but at least in this venue. I can, however, begin the process now and be open to the truth that all of the “facts” that I have learned or observed over the years about Hondas (or other topics) just could well be another “myth,” instead of a confirmed known piece of accurate information. From this new find, it appears that a separate batch of CE71s may have been shipped to Australia and elsewhere, beyond the 390 destined for the US market. More information is trickling in, so this story may continue to grow in the months to come.
I guess the phrase, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes” remains as true as it ever has. All the rest is subject to interpretation and revision as time goes on.
Bill “MrHonda” Silver