John Wayne’s very own 1971 motorcycle is about to go up for auction at the end of the month in Arizona. Auction officials estimate that the sweet Honda SL350 will fetch anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000 when the dust settles.
Though Wayne made hay as a Western giant on horseback in many of his films, the Duke also loved motorbikes as he got older. Hollywood leading men always seem to love the romance and nostalgia of life on the open road, and Wayne was no different. Apparently, gasoline was just in his blood.
Ever seen any behind-the-scenes shots of Wayne while filming the 1971 Western Big Jake? If you have, you’ll likely remember one of him on a similar Honda, all decked out in his cowboy costume but riding a different kind of horse. Stuntmen used the bike for action shots during filming, but Wayne enjoyed being around it so much that he went out and bought one of his own after filming wrapped.
More About Wayne’s Personal Honda
The Duke’s bike is powered by 326cc four-stroke twin mated to a five-speed gearbox. When Honda introduced the SL350 model in 1969, it was essentially a CB/CL with a little off-road attitude. Dirt bike lovers saw plenty of potential in the Honda engine. But the Keihin CV carbs it came with didn’t fare very well on rough terrain or going up hills. Weak return springs would cause the slides to slam shut, making for a difficult ride.
Luckily for Wayne, by the time he wanted to buy one himself, Honda had improved the bike significantly. Off-roading became a breeze after Honda reduced the weight down below 400 pounds, and replaced the CV carbs with standard ones. A 19-inch front wheel and competition-derived cast aluminum fenders gave the bike some seriously pleasing aesthetics. And the engine’s power throughout the rev range meant it performed well off-road.
The auction house hasn’t released mileage or transfer information on the Honda, yet, but Wayne’s bike does come with California paperwork stating he purchased directly from Honda. Someone has also fully restored the bike into immaculate condition: red and white two-tone paint job pair nicely with a black leather seat. The chrome sparkles and the new rubber shines in pictures. It really is a pretty piece of machinery.
About the Auction and Ways to Get Involved
Sotheby’s Arizona will offer the John Wayne Honda on January 27 with no reserve. Bidders will assemble at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix for the 23rd annual Arizona sale. Dozens of classic cars, trucks, motorbikes, and novelty rides will hit the auction block as car enthusiasts from all over the country will meet together to buy, sell, and bid.
See pictures of Wayne’s Honda HERE.