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Watch Captain Slow reassemble the oddly charming Honda Monkey Z50

17 January, 2017


He may be an old bloke from the UK, but James May is a much-loved former automotive presenter of Top Gear, and current presenter of Grand Tour, characterized by doing loud things with powerful cars.

Although often found inside something luxuriously European, ‘Captain Slow’ — as he is referred to by his long-time co-stars Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond — has an unwavering love for Honda motorbikes. Who would have guessed?

This is brought out on The Reassembler, where May trades fast cars and crazy adventures for a backyard shed-esque workspace and the slow slog of putting back together a series of components. 

In the episode below, the vehicle in question is a Honda Z50 Monkey — oddly satisfying to watch if you ask us. There’s something rather charming about watching May transform 303 pieces of Honda engineering to form a well-rounded machine.

Originally created as a kids ride at Honda’s Tama Tech amusement park near Tokyo, it quickly became an unexpected hit with adults, too. The name Monkey stemmed from the resemblance to circus monkeys when perched atop the small bike.

Honda utilized the sales opportunity and developed them for public use. From then on, the Monkey has always had a surprisingly strong following in the UK, and with a host that is equally as fond of such creations, this odd little piece of internet video is pure viewing goodness.

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.