1985 Honda CH150 Scooter

A year ago, I went to this dude's garage sale and spied the Honda Elite slumbering in the back of the garage. I inquired and was told it wasn't for sale. "I'm going to get it running."
This year, I recognized the guy and the scooter was still in the back of the garage.

"Last year, you were going to take it to the shop and it is still there under the dust. Let's get it going again! What would it take for me to buy it?"

"Well, when they are running, they sell for $800."

I have always wanted one of these. One of the rich kids at school had one and I rode it once. I was amazed at the upright, wind free, straightforward controls. He also had a PC Jr., code named Peanut, the junior IBM PC with the wireless keyboard. It was pretty Ferris Bueller - you want a car and Apple II, but you get a scooter and a PC Jr. He probably had an Intellivision, too. I bet his dad read Consumer Reports and bought him an Ampro skateboard from the hobby store.

"What is the 'your problem becomes my problem' price? Cash, right now."

We settled after a few back and forths at $200. Registration was non-op'd, last on the road in 1996. Smelled like the gas had been in there for as long. He had the keys and a salvage title, which was promising. Turns out the keys were for something entirely different - like a padlock and an old Packard. He also had a new-in-the-box, 2007 date coded battery that had multiple dry cells. At least it was a core.

His dad owned it and used it as primary transportation - last registered in 1996. The paint is faded and it is pretty scratched up. He said his dad had the motor rebuilt but who knows.

What it took to get it going:

    • Fuel system - would try to start with ether can, so the spark was good. Gas was bad, tank medium rusty. Rinsed tank. Ordered new vacuum operated fuel petcock ($10) off eBay, which turned out to be the wrong size but I used the filter and was able to get the old one working after soaking in solvent to soften up old gas. Read a LOT about bystarters and was ready to crack open the carb when I discovered you could buy a brand new carburetor with bystarter for $35 on eBay. It seems that the Honda 150 carb is widely copied and used on new Chinese scooters. Maybe the whole motor is copied on those scooters - I don't know.

    • Battery - $34 from O'Reilly Auto Parts with core.

    • Black plastic refurb - Meguiars Black Plastic restore was a top find. I was amazed how well it brought back all the plastic. It seems like the rubber and plastic parts really 'open up' from smog, heat and time. The Meguiars is like extra thick Armorall and the plastic really soaks it up. Results are mixed depending on the surface, but it ranged from modest improvement to totally amazing.

    • Cleaning - a lot. Still needs more.

    • Dash switches - lights, turn signals, etc. were all crusty and needed to be cleaned with electrical contact cleaner. The left signal switch still doesn't work reliably, but I think it is getting better.

    • Brake handle - the lever was busted and I bought one off eBay for about $12. It seems lots of people are surviving by stripping vehicles like this and selling it piece by piece. It's a real shining example of how eBay keeps lots of stuff serviceable long after the manufacturer's gave up on them.

    • Locks - as previously mentioned, the keys were incorrect. Honda doesn't support these scooters anymore, but there are many sources for parts. Unfortunately, no one makes a re-pop key/lock set, so I bought a ignition switch, trunk lock and seat release with a pair of keys for $79 on eBay. It was expensive, but for NOS Honda stuff in a little Honda box it didn't seem insanely so. You know projects like this are going to cost some money but you are often surprised where it is going to go. A $79 carb and a $35 key set would have felt better with the same result to my pocketbook.


Now that it is running and I have spent some time with it, I am really impressed. It reminds me of an A-Class Mercedes. Just because it is of modest size and intent doesn't mean it needs to be cheap. 4-stroke, foot brake, flat floor, water cooled, high style.

In the background you can see my 1963 Trail 55 - also a very cool, interesting machine. 20ish years between the two and the 1985 is just light years of Tron technology and styling ahead. And in the 30 years between the CH150 and now, everything looks and functions the same or worse.

High points: very well built, well engineered, there is a PDF for the service manual online, lots of used parts available on ebay, quite fast

Low points: mine is quite faded, the plastic panels are pretty brittle and snap in place - I would prefer if they were held by more positive means like bolts, Honda no longer supports

What it still needs: front tire, left hand side panel has broken taillight assembly, hood quite faded, seat cover, the windshield is quite fogged.

I have less than $400 into it, but I still need the tire and seat cover. I would like a new hood, windshield and side panel, but those items are pretty pricey for examples not much better than mine.

Given the overall mechanical condition, it would be awesome to find a super clean one with a seized motor or no title or both and swap the bodywork over.