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Honda CB 400A (Automatic) (1976-1977)

Honda CB 400A (Automatic) (1976-1977)
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Honda is the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer. And the USA has long been Honda's largest customer. In the States, driving a manual car is something for perverted sporty drivers with a lot of technical insight. Americans drive automatic. So there also had to be a fantastic market for motorcycles with an automatic transmission. Hondas with automatic transmission. The Honda CB 400A (Automatic). However? NOT!

Honda is the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer

Honda tried to conquer the nonexistent market with the Honda CB 750A and the Honda CB 400A  And serious work had been put into those models. The 750 and 400 were extremely easy to ride motorcycles. They were beautifully executed and lacked any temperament. They were completely focused on the American way of life. And the Americans should have none of it. Of the impressive CB 750A, only 8000 have been sold. Moto Guzzi also tried the same trick with the 1000 cc Hydroconvert. Funnily enough, the machines are not as sought after as classics as other motor "failures" have become. But the interest in the machines is increasing. Even for projects, money is given, although the restoration of a Japanese machine is usually so expensive that it still cannot be economically viable. But for the real enthusiast, the investment is of course of minor importance.


De Honda CB 400A came after the CB 750A.

Honda had decided to learn some lessons from the mistake with the large automatic. At Honda, they thought the lack of success was due to the size and weight of the CB 750A. A lighter, more beginner-friendly machine was needed to succeed in the market to be tapped. After that sharp analysis, the Honda CB 400A which later grew to 450 cc. The block had faint family resemblance to that of the CB 360, but had three valves per cylinder and a balance shaft. And it was actually a 10 hp Honda CB 400 with a hydraulic torque converter and a two-speed gearbox.

Honda marketed it entirely as Hondamatic

De Honda CB 400A like the CB 750A had a high and a low gear ratio. Say highway and city and or mountain transmission. At least that is how it worked with the CB 750A. On the 400 cc machine, the setup was earlier that you drove in his 'first' gear to about 70 kilometers and then 'shifted up' to the two. And then you could enjoy swimming with the (American) highway traffic. In fact, the CB 400 A therefore had a two-speed gearbox with automatic clutch. And of course with a (cable operated) parking brake. The two-hand operation made it impossible to operate the parking brake unintentionally while driving. A warning lamp was to prevent the owner from driving away with the parking brake still on. The smart thing was that the hydraulics were filled with normal engine oil, not ATF.

A lot of Automata

All in all, we came across the Honda CB 400A because we ran into three in a week, one in Arnhem (which has been reserved), one in Zeist 'which is not yet for sale', and our fashion model in Coevorden. YTM is a sole proprietorship with 'old Japanese' as a specialization. Our fashion model is such a find. It is emphatically a project, but it is one.

So if the holiday plans for this year are revised…

Also interesting to read:
- Honda CB 750 OHC - K3? Not the girls.
- Honda CB 500 F. The smaller success
- Also classic: The Honda CB750 K6
- Nice ride on a Honda CB 400 N
- 1992: The Honda CB550 as a reasonably affordable occasion.

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