Last Update: 5-27-09                   

The Quest For the 88 ATCs

Well, I've gotta be honest. When I received an email from Jez one day with a thumbnail of an 88 Big Red 250ES brochure he was buying, I was a bit skeptical. I told him It was probably just a late model 'Red that had been sold over seas as an 88, but not an actual 88.

Hey Billy,

You remember the post on the message board (Page 7 of the "Long Live 3Wheelerworld") where the guy did the search on ServiceHonda and came up with the owners manual part numbers for the 87 ATC250R & 87 ATC350X and most bizzarly, the 85 ATC500R and 88 ATC250ES? (In the servicehonda parts search engine, put in the following and see what comes up: 31HA)

Well, check the attached picture. I've just won the factory brochure for none other than the 1988 (Yes, 1988!!!) Honda ATC250ES Big Red on eBay Australia:

The picture is crap, so I'm loathe to post anything on the message board until I've got the brochure in my hand and can scan it in properly, as I'll get ripped to shreds, but seriously, this is a major find. The brochure looks different to your US ones, as it's a factory produced one printed in Japan which used that layout from 1988 until the mid 90's. I have a number of other 1988 brochures for the CRs and TRXs which are the same layout.

Anyway, what really makes me think about the existence of the 1988 Big Red is that the post about the owners manuals WAS correct and not just a mistype, so it begs the question, "What about the 1985 ATC500R?". It stands to reason that if they got to the owners manual stage as listed in the servicehonda search, then brochures exist somewhere and they were built!!!! So what happened to these bikes and did any make it out of the factory?

Anyway, I'll close for now, but just thought you might be interested. I'll drop you another line with a proper scan when the brochure arrives.


Jez also attached this photo:

Imagine my suprise one day when I logged onto the forums and seen a thread entitled rare find 88 250es???. After seeing the pictures, I was shocked, and a bit confused at the same time. I thought forsure that the 87 ATC's (Which we still have a hard time proving exist) were the end of the line for trikes...but an 88?!?!? Its just unheard of, and really hard to believe considering that the 87's are scarce at best when compared to other years. I have no reason to believe that the pictures in the "rare find" thread are edited or manipulated in anyways, I believe they and the trike are 100% genuine. This of course brings up yet another question....are there other 88 Honda threewheeler models, such as the 200X, 250R, 350X, 125m, ect? I can't say for sure at this point...but if I had say one way or another, I would say yes. Yes that the others are out there in limited quanity. When I asked Dean Kirsten of 3Wheeling magazine what he thought he replied:

"Strange.... I can only assume that ATC sales were large enough outside of the U.S., that Honda continued on with the Big Red Model.... I know at a time, the "Red" was the largest selling 3-wheeler they had, which out sold the ATC 200X and 200S models. We tend to forget Honda is a worldwide corporation, and not only for the Glamis sand dunes... The only part about riding the 200ES I didn't like, was loading one in the back of a pickup. ugh."

Matt Mendel of the board (atcmatt) located yet another 88 Big Red on a website for Australian riders, heres a link to the thread and the pictures of it: 88 Big Red ATC250ES. Definetly a cool find, Matt is looking to see if he can locate anymore 88 trikes whether they are Big Reds or other models, I wish him the best of luck.

Looks like another 88 has turned up in the UK! I got an email from Mark a couple days ago with 4 pictures of his '88 250ES.

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