1966 Honda CB450 Police Special
If you saw one of these rare motorcycles on the road in the 1960s, you were either very lucky or very unlucky. It all depended upon whether that set of red lights was flashing in your rear-view mirror or someone else's.
Honda imported a mere 25 CB450 Police Specials to the United States in 1966 in an effort to crack into the law-enforcement market. So if you came into contact with one, you could certainly count it as one of the more unique bike sightings of your life.
Based on Honda's "Black Bomber" CB450, introduced in 1965, the Police Special was entirely normal in its engine and running gear. But it incorporated some nifty anti-crime devices.
The large speedometer, for instance, was calibrated in 1-mile-per-hour increments. And with a flip of a switch, Mr. Policeman could lock the speedo reading to preserve the evidence of your illegality.
Then he'd switch on the lights and pull a lever on the left handlebar that worked the unusual siren-activation system. The lever brought a rotating steel drum into contact with the rear wheel, much like those old electrical generators on bicycles. The only difference was that this drum drove a flexible steel cable that snaked forward to spin the siren.
The Police Special also came with a solo seat backed by a small metal box for carrying an officer's ticket book.
Honda's Police Special took on Harley-Davidson for a place in America's law-enforcement community…and lost badly. Even though Honda billed it as "a big bike with a big ride," the 450 couldn't make a dent in a market that had been dominated for decades by American V-twins. So the initial U.S. shipment of 25 was also the last.
This particular Police Special, previously on display in the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington, Ohio, is owned by Bob Logue of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Logue says it's one of the few 450s that saw duty, having been purchased by a police force "somewhere in Pennsylvania."
It's value? As a rarity, that's hard to pin down. But you can bet it's equal to dozens of speeding tickets on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.