This is an original Honda Motocompo, it’s a road-legal motor scooter that can fold down to fit neatly in your trunk. It’s powered by a 49cc two-stroke motor producing 2.5 bhp and it weighs just 42 kgs.

The Motocompo has become an icon of 1980s Japanese industrial design, but it owes its underlying concept to a scooter that was dropped behind enemy lines during WWII in aluminum tubes for use by paratroopers.

Honda Motocompo Vintage Ad

Image DescriptionHonda hired the wildly-popular British ska/2-tone band Madness to promote the Motocompo, and they appeared broadly in TV ads, print ads, and even the official specification sheets. Image courtesy of Honda.

This WWII-era folding scooter was called the “Welbike,” it was developed by the top secret Station IX (also known as the Inter-Services Research Bureau) which was based in an English country manor called The Frythe, located 30 miles out of London.

Station IX has been identified as one of author Ian Fleming’s inspirations when conceiving Q Branch, the fictional research and development division of the British Secret Service that equipped James Bond with many of his most memorable gadgets.

The Welbike was a folding scooter designed to fit inside a CLE Canister – the standard parachute airdrop container that measured in at 51 inches (130 cm) long, 15 inches (38 cm) high, and 12 inches (30 cm) wide. Over 3,000 Welbikes were made, and they provided instant transportation for paratroopers upon landing. Once they had been unfolded of course.

The Honda Motocompo debuted in 1981 as a companion for subcompact Japanese cars like the Honda Today and the Honda City. The Motocompo could be folded down and stored in the (small) trunk, offering alternative urban transportation, and possibly a solution to navigating traffic jams.

Power is provided by a single-cylinder, air-cooled, two-stroke motor and it has a single speed transmission with an automatic clutch. It’s equipped with front and rear drum brakes, a tubular steel frame, a single seat, and a fiberglass body that covered the internals.

The seat and handlebars can be folded down resulting in a flat top and a compact dimensions suitable for transport. The dry weight of 42 kgs (93 lbs) was light by motor scooter standards but still a major challenge for many when it came to physically lifting it singlehandedly, this possibly contributed to the model’s slow sales.

Between 1981 and 1983 Honda would sell 53,369 examples of the Motocompo, far fewer than the initial projections of up to 10,000 per month. Though it was technically a sales failure, the Motocompo has influenced a number of Honda concept vehicles including the e-Dax, the e-NSR, and the 2011 “Motor Compo” electric scooter.

Honda Motocompo 15

Image DescriptionOnce it’s folded down, the Honda Motocompo is smaller than a suitcase, and well sized for fitting into even the smallest of standard car trunks.

Honda announced the Motocompacto in 2023, an all-new, all-electric successor to the Motocompo which sells for $995 USD through Honda and Acura dealerships in North America.

The 1982 Honda Motocompo you see here is finished in Caribbean Red and it’s being offered for sale out of Federal Way, Washington on Bring a Trailer. If you’d like to read more about it you can visit the listing here, it’s being offered at no reserve with a clean Washington title.

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Images courtesy of Bring a Trailer

Published by Ben Branch -