Whenever the small, green 1971 Honda 600 Coupe is displayed in the Frank Ancona Honda showroom in Olathe, it grabs the attention of customers.
“People are always very interested in it,” said Michael Ancona, president and part owner of Frank Ancona Honda, 1000 North Rogers Road. “They say, ‘They really made that?’ Back then they didn’t make many of them. I think they made 3,200.”
The 1971 600 Coupe, which has 58,000 miles on it, isn’t for sale. It is a conversation piece that tells part of the history of Honda.
The 600 Coupe isn’t the only piece of Honda history at the dealership. There is a 1975 Honda MR50 Elsinore, a child’s dirt bike that was made to look like a miniature CR250, and a 1986 Honda Spree, which is known as Honda’s entry-level 50cc scooter.
Then there is a 1983 Honda Express, a scooter that was used by Ancona’s sister for transportation on campus at the University of Kansas. It still has the KU parking sticker on it. There also is a Honda Kick-N-Go 2 motorless scooter on display, a precursor to the Razor.
The bikes and scooters are on the second floor of Frank Ancona Honda for customers to view.
Ancona got the idea to take some of these items out of storage and display them with the 600 Coupe after he returned from a trip from Japan last November. As a second-generation Honda dealership owner, Ancona was among 20 dealers on this trip. It is something new Honda is doing, bringing in dealers once a year.
“A lot of the Honda dealers tend to hold on to the stores,” Ancona said. “The whole idea behind the trip was to bring second-generation and third-generation (owners) into the origins of the company that we never got to experience.
“They are trying to build a history and loyalty to the brand by showing everybody where they came from.”
In eight days, Ancona visited four cities in Japan, including Motegi, home of the Honda Collection Hall, a Honda history museum. Honda was founded in 1946 by Soichiro Honda.
“It is pretty much a sampling of everything they made, dating all the way back to the first bike Mr. Honda ever built,” Ancona said.
“They had everything in a nice display. I was thinking we have all this stuff in storage for 10 years. We ought to bring it out and show some of our history.”
It started in 1961 when Frank Ancona, Michael’s father, opened his dealership, Northeast Motor Sports, on Truman Road in Kansas City.
“From 1961 to ’85 we sold motorcycles,” Ancona said. “We picked up cars in 1971. For a while, we had both. The time we moved from downtown to here, we got rid of the motorcycle store.”
It was successful, so much so that Frank Ancona won an award from the Honda founder and flew to Japan to accept the award in 1966.
“There is a picture of him shaking hands with Mr. Honda when he won the award,” Ancona said.
The dealership moved to Olathe in 1986. Ancona said reliability and low cost are two reasons why Honda remains a popular brand with consumers.
“Doing this myself, it surprises me how far they have advanced,” Ancona said of Honda. “It is not just Honda; it is everybody.
“Mr. Honda has an interesting story. He was always striving for better. He didn’t have a lot of money when he started up. He made his first bike after the war. He was very engineering-minded. He took a lot of surplus army generators and put them on bikes and sold them.”
A bit of that history is inside Frank Ancona Honda.
If you have a story you would like to see in On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.