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No Reserve: 1986 Honda Z50RD “Christmas Special”

There seems to be a bit of a trend developing here. The 1986 Honda Z50RD was produced as a “Christmas Special” to reward the company’s best-performing dealers. That means that they were made in strictly limited numbers. Surprisingly, we’ve seen a couple appear in the last three weeks, and now another one has appeared on our desks here at Barn Finds. This one looks to be a real beauty, but the seller has decided that it is time for it to head to a new home. If you fancy the idea of Christmas every day of the week, you will find the tiny Honda located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and listed for sale here on eBay. The desirability of these little classics can be best demonstrated by the bidding on this one to date. It was initially listed at $0.99 and has taken a mere 3-days to skyrocket to $5,110. It is being offered with No Reserve, so this is a case of winner-takes-all.

The Z50RD is a distinctive little bike, and the fact that so much of it is chrome makes it stand out a mile away. This is also its potential greatest weakness. If any chrome pieces like the fenders or the tank get dings or dents, they can be hard to address. That isn’t an issue here because those parts appear to be perfect. As you can see from this shot, there isn’t even any corrosion on the underside of the fenders. The tank is in a similar state, and the seller says that it is as-new inside. All of the correct decals are in place, along with the badges and the number plates.

The target market for the Z50R was children who were having their first taste of life on a motorcycle. That means that Honda needed to produce a machine that was as easy to operate as possible and with just sufficient power to do the job. To this end, we find Honda’s 49cc single-cylinder engine, which is attached to a 3-speed transmission with an automatic clutch. This is about as simple as it gets, and we can only guess how many of today’s bikers cut their teeth on a similar machine. This one has been used sparingly, with the seller only running the engine for around 10-minutes. It runs and rides fine, but the heat cycle that has been put through the motor has affected some of the black heat-proof coating. The carburetor is also dirty, as is the alloy on the transmission case. Most of this comes down to a bit of careful cleaning and polishing, and addressing these issues could be a great way to while away the winter months. Of more significant concern is the fact that the kill switch is faulty. A previous owner has fitted an aftermarket unit, which will need to be changed to protect authenticity. The good news is that components like that are standard across the Z50 range, so the buyer won’t need to buy one specific to the Z50RD. However, that person might still need to search a bit to find a switch of this vintage. One notable fact is that the little Honda rolls on its original tires. These are in as-new condition, with some of the original marking ink and preserving powder still visible today.

As well as being in exceptional condition for its age, this little Honda does come with a bonus. NOS parts are highly sought by collectors who wish to keep their machines pristine or by those who are undertaking a restoration. The “big ticket” item is the fuel tank, and it isn’t unusual to see these changing hands for more than $1,500. This one doesn’t come with a tank, but it does come with a replacement seat. These are prone to wear and damage, so that is a significant find. There are also three spare number plates, and these are still in the original packaging.

It is believed that around 3,000 of these little Hondas were produced for Christmas 1986. They were sent to the company’s most successful dealers as a reward that they could sell, and each of those dealers received a pair. Pristine examples can sell for some mind-blowing prices, with $10,000 not being out of the question. The record stands at $51,000 for a pair found still in their crate, which has to make them one of the most valuable classics of any description on a “per pound” basis. This one isn’t pristine, but its condition is well above average. The last two we featured here at Barn Finds sold for $6,100 and $6,700, respectively. I would expect this one to sell for somewhere around or even above that upper figure. It isn’t perfect, but the inclusion of those NOS parts could boost the bidding a bit. It is said that all good things must come to an end, but you have to wonder whether it will ever be the case with the 1986 Honda Z50RD. Do you think that the value will keep climbing in the coming years, or do you feel that we’ve just about reached the upper limit?


  1. Avatar photo Johnmloghry

    Big money for a small bike. The market for these little Hondas seems to be strong right now as several of these have shown up lately with bidding exceeding 5 grand. They are cute to be sure, but just how long will the value remain? One of my brothers had one in 63 (not a Christmas special) it looked just like this with less chrome. It would run 55 mph all day long on a gallon of gas. It seems to me he said it got 150 miles to the gallon.

    God bless America

    Like 1

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