By Tom White
Announced in October of 1972 and on sale in the USA in
March of 1973, the Elsinore was preceded by minimal hype but
nevertheless generated great excitement. After all, it was Honda’s first
two-stroke and first production motocrosser.
The Elsinore, named after the famous Elsinore Grand Prix, was the
lightest production motocrosser in the world, employing the latest
available technology and high-tech materials. Compared to the European
offerings, the Elsinore was vastly superior in user-friendliness,
ergonomics, carburetion, durability and electronics. The CR250M’s molded
plastic, satin-finished aluminum and magnesium in the engine cases
became the new standard. Elsinores became as popular as free beer.
In late 1972, Honda founder Soichiro Honda met with Don Jones, father of
the 1971 and 1972 AMA 250 National Champion Gary Jones. Don said, “Mr.
Honda wanted me to help develop the new Elsinore with Gary and DeWayne
as the riders. I was reluctant to switch from Yamaha, as we had helped
develop the YZ and were happy with the bike. Soichiro asked me how much
we were getting from Yamaha and my accessory business. I told him, and
he said, ‘I’ll double that.’ It was a done deal!”
At first, Gary and DeWayne struggled with the factory Honda. Reliability
issues and poor communication with the factory mechanics were factors.
Don told Honda that they didn’t want to race the works bike anymore, but
instead wanted to get production CR250Ms and develop them. If not, the
Jones gang would quit. Honda agreed to the terms, and Gary Jones went on
to win the 1973 AMA 250cc National Championship (and then switched to
Can-Am and won again in 1974).
1973 HONDA CR250M FACTS
WHAT THEY COST
Suggested retail in 1973 was $1145. This was close to what the European manufacturers were charging at the time. A piston cost $11.40, and rings were $3.00. This Early Years of Motocross Museum example is valued at $10,000. Recently, an unridden 1974 CR125M sold on Ebay for $17,500.
The CR250M and an enduro/street-legal two-stroke model (dubbed the MT250) were the only two-strokes in Honda’s lineup until they were joined by the CR125M in 1974. The CR125 was a bigger success than the CR250, first, because it was a better bike and, second, because American teenagers flocked to the 125 class.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Most important is to find an Elsinore with a clean, undented tank. New and original tanks have sold for as much as $2000 on the vintage market. Elsinores came with lightweight finned shocks that were often replaced with Konis. For the collector, stock is best! Stock-stamped exhaust pipes with the original ribbed silencers, molded side panels and original levers are difficult to source.
Try www.hondarestorations.com, or Western Hills Honda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com