Priscilla on her white Honda Dream CA77 at Graceland -
Photos courtesy ebay and web
Their bikes were mid-60s CA77 Honda Dreams*
("late" models), hers white and his black. Priscilla's was possibly purchased in April of 1965 in California around the time
he purchased several bikes for his group to ride. He had it shipped
from there to Memphis in October of that
year, according to Peter Guralnick, so she could go riding with
him.1 Elvis' was likely purchased
from Al's Cycle Shop in Memphis, if the stickers on the bike are any
indication, but when is not clear at this time.
Al's Cycle was started in 1958 by "Big" Al McAlexander, the
former service manager at the Memphis Harley-Davidson Co. Some
unsubstantiated accounts however say Elvis bought a truckload of them
when they were first imported.2
The Honda Dreams started out as the the 247cc 4-stroke twin C70 Dream introduced in May of 1957. Soichiro Honda had dubbed many of his earlier bikes 'Dream' after his dream of building complete
motorcycles.3 Honda himself said, I designed the lines on the side of the Dream C70 gas tank with a picture in my mind of the curve from the eyebrow to the nose on a figure of the
After the C70, Honda developed the 247cc C71, which featured an electric starter, and the C72.
Increased to 305cc, the same engine was introduced to North America in the CA76 Dream in 1959 and CA77 in 1960. They were the first larger-capacity motorcycles that Honda mass-exported. The CA77 dreams produced from 1960 to 1963 are called "early" models, while
those built from 1963 to 1969 are dubbed "late" models, the difference
of which are are few. Visually, the shape of the gas tank changed, but the rectangular rear shock absorber upper covers and the square headlight nacelle, complete with speedometer, remained. Over its production run, Dream specifications continued virtually unchanged.3
Available in white, black, blue and scarlet red, they were
characterized by a pressed steel frame and alloy overhead cam twin cylinder engines. They were very well equipped, with 12v electrics, electric starter, indicators, dual seats and other advanced features, not common to most motorcycles of the period.
The front and rear wheels were 16-inches each, and most Dreams came equipped with whitewall tires.
They weighed 350lbs., were rated at about 24hp and had a top speed of 86 mph. They have a 2.5 gallon fuel tank and got anywhere from 50 to 70 miles to a gallon. They retailed for under $600 at the time.3
Honda Dreams weren’t exactly high-performance motorcycles, but then they weren’t designed to be.
The Dream emphasized other elements of Honda’s approach to motorcycle-building. It was inexpensive to own, unintimidating to ride and reliable to maintain.
While those qualities may not have attracted a lot of traditional motorcyclists, they struck a chord with a new generation of riders interested in fun on two wheels. On that score, the Dream hit the mark.5
One can only speculate that Elvis might have bought one to keep back with Priscilla.
Hers is gone but Elvis' is still part of the collection at Graceland where it is regularly on display. At some point a crash bar was added to it.
In 2005, however, it was on loan to the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit that ran at the Pyramid from April 22nd to October 30th that year.
* It should noted that we are only
assuming the model year as 1965 based mainly on when we think
have been acquired. As mentioned above the model years are
visually indistinguishable and according to Corey Bourassa of the
Antique Honda Shop in Lowell, Massachusetts, Honda often titled their
bikes the year they were sold with several often carried over to the
next model year. The preferred method for accurately dating them is the
engine number on the top of the clutch case and/or tags on the wiring
harness, neither of which we have access too. Suffice to say that both
Elvis and Priscilla had mid-60s Honda Dreams.
The sound of Honda Dream CA77
All photos on this site (that we
didn't borrow) unless
otherwise indicated are the property of either Scotty Moore or James V.
Roy and unauthorized use or reproduction is prohibited.