Honda first started building motorcycles in America back in the 1970s, and so at the end of July 2004, Honda America Manufacturing celebrated its 25th Anniversary Homecoming. Honda's customers are invited to the Honda Homecoming every July, but the passage of a quarter-centuryduring which Honda's Marysville, Ohio plant has gone from assembling relatively simple 250cc dirt bikes to making Gold Wings and Runes and seen facility expansion nearby to produce Honda cars and enginesmade the 2004 event a bit special.
As always, there was plenty to entertain visitors. Factory tours (No photos, please!) through both the automobile and motorcycle plants are always big draws. You can see a vehicle like yours get assembled and painted. There were demo rides, of course, vendors, food and drink, a variety of exhibits (some of which, like the display of models produced at the Marysville facility, are available all year for visitors who drop in or take the tour), concept vehicles (both motorcycles and the forthcoming pick-up truck), and lots of motorcycles to look at, including customs from West Coast Choppers (the red-framed VTX in the photos) and others. There was even a bike made from balloons, assembled while you watched. A stroll through the parking and demo area revealed Honda street bikes that had been converted to everything from dragsters to trikes, and Honda had most of its motorcycle models on display, from Ruckuses to Runes. The annual Parade of Lights through Marysville looks like a movie special effect.
There were a variety of contests too, with some unique prizes. A few lucky winners got a chance to ride a Rune on the Honda test track or take off in the Goodyear blimp that had flown in for the event.
Honda also sponsored a custom VTX show with over $20,000 in cash up for the winners in three classes (ranging from Wash-and-Wax to Wild) plus Best in Show. We saw some Rune customizers that were looking a little green with envy.
The Best-of-Show-winning and definitely Wild VTX 1800 (the black bike seen here) was the unanimous pick of the three judges, and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Motorcycle Cruiser. The motorcycle has some very creative and unique ideas, and shows how quickly and how far metric customs have advanced. It's no longer possible to get this kind of attention with a simple bolt-on project. Even in a one-brand metric show, it now takes a ground-up rebuild to win.