In the late 1970s, Honda announced a game-changing four-wheeled off-road buggy called the Odyssey. At the time, three-wheeled recreational ATCs were gaining popularity, but also gaining a notorious reputation for being “widow makers.” Honda’s brilliant alternative was a single-seat, rear-engine, four wheel buggy with a kart-like seating position and yoke steering that was more stable, more controllable, and much safer than a trike - so long as it was enjoyed within the boundaries of physics.
Building on the initial success of the first series, Honda redesigned the Odyssey for 1981 with a host of welcome improvements including a more refined 250cc two-stroke engine, auto-clutch transmission, the addition of a full roll cage with a powerful high-mounted headlight, shoulder harnesses, and redesigned front suspension allowing for better travel and a tighter turning radius. To set it apart in showrooms, the new Odyssey was finished in classic Honda Red with gold wheels fitted with knobby balloon tires. While other ATVs of the period were akin to three-wheeled motorcycles, the Odyssey was more like an off-road kart, perfect for carving dunes, exploring trails, and generally mucking about in the muck. The influential Odyssey set the stage for the later Honda Pilot ATV, which itself cast the mold for today’s popular Side-by-Sides and UTVs.
This 1983 FL250 is an outstanding example of Honda’s pioneering ATV, offered in collector-quality condition. Sold new by S & H Cycles in Elk City, Oklahoma, the previous owner found it in scruffy, well-loved condition. While it had obviously been used as intended over the years, it was complete, and importantly, did not appear to have been severely abused, making it the ideal candidate for a complete restoration. The owner was obviously a big fan of the cheeky little buggy, lavishing the same sort of care and attention typically reserved for show-car restorations. After tearing it down to a bare frame, the Odyssey was painstakingly refinished and rebuilt from the ground-up, topped off with correct Honda red bodywork and roll cage, and fully detailed with authentic decals and NOS parts. The project is documented via hundreds of photographs, included on two flash drives, and the file includes receipts and reprint service manuals.
While an FL250 Odyssey may be an unusual subject for such a highly detailed restoration, this delightful machine takes us right back to a Saturday trip to the Honda dealer in 1983 – as our past teenage selves desperately beg dad to choose this over that lawnmower he came to buy. It would undoubtedly make a fine addition to any motorcycle or scooter collection, or a fabulous accessory for a restored classic 4x4 truck.
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