Honda GoldWing Turns 40

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Honda GoldWing, one of the most legendary and long running models in the history of two wheeled machines. Officially, the GoldWing doesn’t reach its ruby anniversary until October, but already on sale in the United States (and elsewhere soon) is a special anniversary edition of the motorcycle by Honda.

The first Honda GoldWing was targeted at the long range rider and Honda had a keen interest in making it a success in the United States where the only other models available for such riders included the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide (noisy, high maintenance, bad vibration) plus other average options like the Moto Guzzi Edlorado and BMW R90/6.

The GL1000 as the first model was called cost $2,895 which was $660 cheaper than the Electra Glide (a considerable price difference of around $3,000 in today’s figures). It featured a smooth, 1,000 cc horizontally-opposed four-cylinder, SOHC engine. Strangely for the market Honda was aiming for, the GL1000 didn’t come with saddlebags, had no luggage capacity and didn’t even come standard with a windshield. This gaping hole however was filled by third party accessory manufacturers. It was a smash hit. In it’s first year alone, Honda moved 13,000 machines and by 1979 a massive 97,000 GoldWing’s were sold.

In 1980, two major changes happened. Firstly, the GL1100 was released which had a boost in capacity to 1,085 cc. The second major change was that Honda began to market the GoldWing as being a truly American machine with manufacture of the motorcycle occurring at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio facility. The plant produced over 50,000 machines annually and it continued to be a huge success for Honda.

Over the years the Honda GoldWing has continued to grow in size and capacity. The 40th Anniversary model still features the same 1,832cc engine it’s had now for a number of years. Special features include 40th anniversary badges on the rear trunk, front cowl and glove box as well as 40th anniversary embossing on the passenger seat. And most unlike the original GL1000, it features surround sound, ipod connectivity, sat nav, ABS and tire-pressure monitoring systems and even an optional airbag system.

How things change, though it’s a little disappointing Honda didn’t put a bit more effort into this special year. The 40th Anniversary Honda GoldWing is priced between $23,999 to $30,599. Pricing for Australia, Canada and other markets hasn’t yet been released.

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