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Why Honda Owes Chevy Trucks A Huge Debt Of Gratitude

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The Japanese manufacturer wasn't always a competitor to GM.

This year Honda is celebrating 60 years in the American market. So what's it done to mark the occasion? It's restored a classic vehicle, but not one of its own. Instead it's put its heritage department to work on a Chevy pickup truck, of all things.

While Honda competes with Chevy in the lucrative US pickup market these days with the Ridgeline, back in 1959 when it first arrived on these shores, it didn't. In fact it didn't sell any cars here back then. Just motorcycles. And this was the truck it used to deliver those motorcycles to its dealers.

The vehicle in question is a 1961 Chevrolet Apache 10 – the precursor to today's Silverado. The half-ton truck was memorably depicted in an early photo taken in front of American Honda Motor's original office on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles. The restoration replicated the original paint scheme that adorned the trucks that Honda used to sell its motorcycles on consignment through local dealers, helping it to dominate the US motorcycle market with a 72-percent market share by 1965.

Along with the red-striped white paint, the truck received "a mild mechanical freshening," sprucing up the 160-horsepower, 3.8-liter V8 and three-speed manual transmission.

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In its eight-foot bed sits a pair of vintage motorcycles: a "Nifty Thrifty" Honda 50 Super Cub and a CB160 sport bike. The truck and bikes are currently on display at Honda's current US headquarters in Torrance, California, and will go on tour to shows like SEMA and other classic-vehicle gatherings before taking pride of place in the American Honda Collection Hall (also in Torrence) in front of a replica of the original LA office.

Expect other birthday celebrations to unfold throughout the year – possibly to include restoration of some of Honda's own four-wheeled vehicles, too.

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