February 28, 2006 One of the most significant milestones in history went by without fanfare when total worldwide production of Honda’s Super Cub scooter reached 50 million units late in December, 2005. Launched in 1958, the Super Cub’s effort in becoming the first motor vehicle to achieve total sales of 50 million units is quite incredible. The best selling automotive design in history is the Volkswagen Beetle which sold an incredible 21,529,464 over 68 years before it ceased production in Mexico in 2003, surpassing the previous titleholder, the Model T Ford (16.5 million) in 1972. Though the 21.5 million figure for cars might come under threat when China's automotive industry hits full swing, the Beetle’s 68 year production period and the Honda Cub’s 50 million plus production run are likely to remain world records for eternity. With new technologies and ever-stricter emissions and marketplace imperatives requiring constant renewal, no model will ever be as futuristic enough in its design to produce 50 million units again. In the main image, one of these bikes is the first supercub and the other is the 50 millionth - which is which?
The first-generation Super Cub made its debut in Japan in 1958. At a time when 2-stroke engines were the main stream, the Super Cub was fitted with a revolutionary, high-performance 50cc 4-stroke engine that offered superb economy and durability. The creative design also featured a low-floor backbone frame for convenient mounting and dismounting, a lever-free centrifugal clutch for easy shifting, large plastic leg shields to protect riders’ legs from dirt and wind, and other innovations. Since then the Super Cub has undergone many improvements, but its basic design and concepts remain unchanged, and it carries on a proud tradition of unique styling.
In 1959 the United States became the first market for Super Cub exports, and in 1961 Taiwan became the first country to assemble the model from imported Japanese parts. Since then, following the policy of building products where the demand is, Honda has expanded Super Cub production to facilities around the world. Currently produced in 13 countries and a popular product in more than 160, the Super Cub is a practical motorcycle that enjoys a strong reputation around the world.
Wikipedia as always has a few interesting facts at its disposal regarding best selling nameplates where names like the Toyota Corolla (35 million sales over nine generations of vehicle), Ford’s F-series truacks (29 million over 11 generations) and Volkswagen’s Golf (24 million over five generations) head a list of the most iconic autos in history (e.g. the Citroen 2CV, Ford Escort, Ford Mustang, Lada Riva and Renault 4)
The Supercub at the bottom of the main photo is the 50 millionth of its type!