NEWS: Honda restores a Chevy pickup

It is an extremely rare event for us at JNC to feature a non-Japanese car. Even more rare is when an automaker spends its hard-earned money to restore a car made by one of its competitors. But that’s exactly what Honda has done with this 1961 Chevy Apache pickup to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Honda established its US sales arm in 1959 as a purveyor of motorcycles. This was several years before the company would produce its first car, and it needed a way to deliver the bikes to dealers in southern California. The most efficient and cost effective solution at the time was to purchase a small fleet of locally produced pickups, which included a 1961 Chevy Apache 10.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of American Honda, the company wanted to recreate a scene from one of its earliest archival photos. That picture depicted said Apache parked in front of American Honda’s first headquarters, located on 4077 Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California (today, that location is an acupuncture clinic).

“We only had a single black and white photo,” Honda spokesperson Brad Nelson told JNC. “We had to get color experts to help us determine exactly what paint the truck would’ve had.” Nelson helped secure the Apache, which he found in on the east coast. He bought it sight unseen after talking with the seller over the phone and seeing detailed photos.

The time between when the project was approved and when they needed the truck by, given the repaint and minor restoration that it required, was brief. During that window Nelson could find only two Apaches matching the one in the archival photo in the entire country, so he pulled the trigger and had it shipped to California.

Upon arrival in California, the truck was repainted in white with a red stripe, Honda’s classic colorway. The doors were given the classic Honda motorcycle wing logo, and the bedside was painted with the old headquarters address.

The archival photo isn’t simply of the delivery truck itself. It’s also fulfilling its purpose with two new bikes in the bed, a Honda CB160 sport bike and a Honda 50 (aka Super Cub), the best-selling vehicle largely responsible for making Honda the success it is today. Naturally, Honda has included these now-classic two-wheelers as well.

From these humble beginnings, Honda has in 60 years grown its US presence to include 12 factories and 31,000 employees. Eventually, of course, it even began to sell cars in America too. Upon revealing the restored truck, Honda even some good-natured fun, tweeting, “Thanks @Chevrolet for helping us get our start in America!”

Images courtesy of Honda.

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6 Responses to NEWS: Honda restores a Chevy pickup

  1. Tim Mings said:

    Just one error: It’s a 1960 model.

    • Ben Hsu said:

      According to Honda it’s a ’61. I’m not well versed enough with Apaches to know the difference.

      • nlpnt said:

        Looks like a ’61 to me. ’60 models had the jet-pod-looking things on the leading edge of the hood filled with panels that had vertical slots on either side of the turn signal, ’61s had the floating horizontal elements seen here, and ’62 had a new rounder-fronted hood with no jet pods.

        What looks odd to me is that usually these were chromed when the chrome bumpers and grille were ordered, that all came as a package. But the truck in the archive photo is that way too.

      • Sabin Simard said:

        It’s fantastic to see result like this when you want to restore what you love or simply want to keep them alive and mostly stock, because they had all their glory when they were new, this truck is absolutely LOVELY and stock with the only one exception of modern (even with white side wall) radials tires, it could be even more lovely with four Firestone deluxe Champions or BF Goodrich Silvertown to make total effect. And with a GM classic automobile, only tell them what you need or what you want and you will get them all right down to clutch and brake pedals rubber pads, and all this even for trucks a lot older. It’s by now only a dream for all Honda or Toyota lovers!!!?? Hope they got a lessons!

  2. Scott Sylvester said:

    Honda is smart to show its notable beginning here in the USA. I was 13 years old in 1963 and those colorful quiet sporty reliable little Hondas blended great with the music of the Beach Boys. Honda dealers seemed to multiply that summer and we could not resist the ads locally that offered cheap hourly rentals of their 50 and 90cc Super Cubs. About 2 years ago, I was contacted by Honda about buying my unrestored 65 Blue Super Cub for their Ohio Honda Heritage Museum. T Mings had let them know I had the bike they were looking for. Looks like they have been busy re connecting to their past. Nice to see.

  3. Mark Newton-John said:

    Maybe Nissan could recreate their Datsun Yamahauler pickups.

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