Ultra Rare Bike: 1953 Honda Dream 3E

It’s hard to think of Honda as being “mid-Century”, isn’t it – that seems like such a long time ago now. Mid-century is such a current buzzword and I wouldn’t exactly call this 1953 Honda Dream 3E mid-century modern but it sure is cool, not to mention rare. It can be found here on eBay in Santa Ana, California and it has an unmet opening bid of $9,995.

I’m not usually one to relate one vehicle to something else, but this Honda Dream almost has an early BMW look to it, no? The 3E was the third version of the Honda Dream and needless to say, you would gain instant star status if you showed up at any vintage motorcycle event with this bike. Well, not Sturgis, but any vintage Japanese bike event. This one was “just imported from Japan” according to the seller.

It really has a cool, low-slung look to it, almost like a factory custom. Compare this to the peppy and almost-preppy look to the bright colors that Honda motorcycles would be famous for. Not to mention the “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ad campaign that would come out a little more than a decade after this Dream was made. This Dream 3E is a bit more sinister looking than the friendly-looking and bright-colored scooters that made the company famous.

This Dream can hopefully be massaged into working condition and driven without messing with its originality. The seller says that “The pictures were taken at our shop in Japan. This bike is original, not restored.” It would be great if it could be kept in original condition other than what it takes to get it working perfectly again. In restored condition, these easily sell for $25,000+ but I’d rather have it in original condition. This one is really tempting, it would make a great addition to the Honda wing of Scotty G’s garage (wing = corner).

The 3E has a 145 CC engine and a three-speed gearbox. This one turns over but the seller hasn’t tried to start it and the only thing missing is “the rubber boot from the carb to the airbox.” It even has a clear title which I didn’t expect to hear. Would you restore this bike or keep it as original as possible?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. HoA Howard AMember

    This bike is pretty cool. These people are off their nut asking these prices for vintage bikes, but that aside, it really was an innovative bike for the early 50’s. OHV, multi disc, hand operated clutch, telescoping forks, I bet it could go the speed limit. Always liked those backwards brake and clutch levers. No cable in the way, seems like a better way to do it. I’m a big fan of the “square” Dreams, but would like this just as well. $10g’s, you got to be kidding. Just like classic cars today, leaving the little guy behind.

    Like 13
    • Doug B

      People that pay these high bucks for anything make the rest of us poor folk hold a major grudge against them. This is simply chump change to them, and I’d change places with them in a nanosecond. lol

      Like 1
  2. Mountainwoodie

    Being a mid century guy myself, birthwise, :) and liking old bikes generally, this certainly would be different at a any bike show. While I have always wanted a ’47 Indian Chief this would do in a pinch as it has a lot of the low slung design I like in older bikes. Interesting that it even exists coming a short 8 years after The War….

    Like 9
  3. Kenneth Carney

    My sister’s husband rode one in highschool. I recall riding on the back of
    it to Summer School in ’72. Though his
    bike was newer than this one, it was a
    cheap way to get around and never left
    us stranded. They were rugged little
    bikes that could easily be brought back
    to life again. Just imagine getting where
    you need to go and not having to fill the
    tank for 31/2 weeks! Try doing that with
    your family sedan!

    Like 8
  4. Derek

    I really like this.

    It makes me think Zündapp rather than BMW, with that pressed frame – although some of the even older BMW frames were pressed, I think…

    Like 10
    • Jimbosidecar

      You are correct. The BMW R12 and several other models used pressed frames.

      Like 3
  5. geomechs geomechsMember

    Wow, Scotty, where do you find these? This has got to be one rare bike for sure, and it would add to any motorcycle collection, even the ones who hate anything from ‘The Rising Sun.’ I’m thinking Mr. Honda followed BMW for a ways, then latched onto Zunndapp for the finished product. Honda was quite the individual. He was always looking for ideas, and combined many different avenues into one machine. I read an article about his entry into racing competitions. His first entry failed miserably but when he returned the following year, his bike was vastly improved. I recall the comment: “from a blacksmith shop to a Swiss watch,” or thereabouts. You should pick this one up yourself…

    Like 12
  6. BlondeUXBMember

    Check out the Nimbus (Danish motorcycle) for Honda’s frame inspiration…

    Like 6
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      I was thinking about the Nimbus myself. There were a few motorcycles built by others that used an external frame.

      Like 3
  7. YellowjaxMember

    OMG. This is one so unique. It’s a certified head turner, and parking lot conversation starter.

    Like 8
  8. On and On On and OnMember

    I don’t think the price is out of control, true it’s hard to justify simply because it would be difficult to find another. It may be a decent investment, and I’d almost guarantee it will run. Can anyone identify the round silver can part on the left engine side at the base of the cylinder? Electric starter?

    Like 4
    • Randy

      Mag or coil????? These early small bikes were not equipped with starters.

      Like 3
      • troyce

        Oil-filter. Electrics are in crankcase.

        Like 5
  9. exartist

    Mint condition these fetch north of $20K, so this is a good deal for the right person. Heck, even as-is it’s a nice deal. I could park this in my living room and admire the lines and details every day just as much as I would admire a $10K painting.

    Like 10
  10. the one

    I’m sure the eventual buyer is going through a “mid life crisis”…

    Like 1
  11. Wrong Way

    This would be welcome to attend any bike venue and draw a crowd. Especially Sturgis. Sturgis isn’t all about Harley, if it was it would be a failure! Believe me, I know first hand! Have a great day guys and of course gals!

    Like 8
    • geomechs geomechsMember

      You’re right about the Sturgis part. I’ve seen a lot of interesting rides from all over the place, and they all were received quite well. Of course there are some jackasses that think that Harley invented the motorcycle. But I’ve seen those same jackasses take a good close look at a ‘Rikou.’

      Like 4
  12. troyce

    Our Dream E, Dream 4E and ME from years past.
    http://www.vjmc-florida.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/200310.pdf (page 6)

    If one has a good contact in Japan, they are available – not really super-rare. Over a decade and a half or so I was able to import four Benly JC58s, a couple of JC56s, half a dozen Dream MEs, and two Dream 4Es.

    At one point a concern out west were reproducing the carb-to-filter boots for us, as well as grips in the proper odd green, and the footpeg, brake, and shifter rubbers.

    The can at the port side cylinder base is a cartridge type oil-filter.

    Got lots of information on the 1950s Hondas if anyone further interested . . . several of us in the US do, in fact.

    Like 11
    • On and On On and OnMember

      In your opinion what should this sell for.

      Like 1
      • On and On On and OnMember

        And I would be interested in more information. My email is: durant28@yahoo.com

        Like 0
    • Eric Kraft

      Troyce. I realize this is a 2-year-old thread, but I am located in North Florida and doing a full restoration on a ’53 3E. I would be very pleased to be in contact with you or any others that might have expertise in these very early Hondas. I have restored probably 30 Hondas, but this, obviously, will be the oldest! I have several good Honda contacts in Japan for parts, but would really appreciate some English-speaking expertise. If you are on fb, I have a page called “Vintage Honda Motorcycles Forum”. If you join, you can message me there. Thanks. Eric

      Like 0
  13. Hemidavey

    Super cool bike, I would not restore, just clean polish and enjoy

    Like 7
  14. Richard Allen

    I love the look of this thing. A new updated replica, made by Honda, in say the160cc to 250cc range, would really sell.

    Like 5
  15. Mark Radtke

    I just remember those later ones from the 60s. I think they were usually White and The Beach Boys wrote around on them.

    Like 2
  16. daCabbie

    I’d rather have a Honda Cub… early sixties, 50cc… I used to have one when I lived in Vietnam.

    You really do meet the nicest people on a Honda… most of the a-hole’s I’ve met have tunnel vision and believe Harley is the only true bike.

    Wish I could still ride, but my brother died on his BMW going to work one morning, since then I have given up riding and working for anyone who expects me to be on time.

    Like 4
  17. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Ended: Feb 12, 2019 , 9:39PM
    Starting bid:US $9,995.00
    [ 0 bids ]

    Like 1
  18. Joe

    Well, looks like this bike has now been sold…to me. :) I haven’t taken delivery yet but my goal will be exactly to get it ‘massaged into working condition and driven without messing with its originality’… I was happy to read that and I fully agree!! I’m on Instagram at Joeythebrush if anyone wants to follow along and/or provide guidance (I’m sure i will need it). Cheers!

    Like 3
    • Scotty GilbertsonStaff

      Joe, that’s fantastic, congratulations! Wow, that’s a halo vehicle if there ever was one. Please keep us up to date on your thoughts when it arrives and on any progress that you make with it. Well done!

      Like 2
  19. Joe

    Just checking back in, here. I got this bike preserved, running, and riding. Lots of parts serviced, nearly nothing replaced. Check my Instagram for pics – Joeythebrush and check hashtag #jtbhondadream :)

    Like 1

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