These days, ₱1,000 can get you places, but nowhere near getting your own ride. For some, ₱1,000 can pay for 3 days' worth of round trip toll fees from MCX to Nichols or C5 in SLEX. For others, that ₱1,000 can pay for a week or two's worth of motorcycle fuel to get to and from work. For our brothers and sisters who work as motorcycle couriers, that ₱1,000 means part of their daily cash capital to fund customer’s bookings for food, groceries, and other items.
But, did you know that in the 1960s, ₱1,000 could buy you a Honda Cub?
While browsing social media, we stumbled upon a photo of a newspaper ad from Hahn Manila, which is also the company that imported BMWs and Ducatis 6 decades ago. Judging by the models featured in the ad, it could have been from the early to mid-60s.
What's interesting is how much prices and inflation have changed since then. In the ad, their entry-level bike, the Honda C240, more popularly known as the “Port Cub”, could be yours for only ₱990.
The C240 was a 49cc 4-stroke, 2-speed motorcycle produced between 1962 and 1963. It used a slightly different frame from the C100 Cub and did away with the plastic leg shield, leaving the engine exposed. Since there were only two speeds in the gearbox and no leg shield, it was cheaper to make, hence more accessible to more buyers. Despite that, it's actually one of the rarer Honda motorcycle models today.
Next on the list are the C100 (50cc) and C105 (55cc) Cubs that can be brought home for only ₱1,370 and ₱1,440 respectively.
Serving as the entry level “standard” or backbone-style motorcycles are the C114 and the scrambler-like C110 both at ₱1,630. The C115, which has 5cc and half a horsepower more than the C115 cost a hundred pesos more at ₱1,730.
Now we get to the higher end bikes, the 2-cylinder Hondas. The now-classic C95 150cc 2-cylinder can be yours for the price of today’s entry-level smartphone at ₱2,650. The C95 boasts a 4-speed transmission, 14-inch wheels, a side stand, and signal lights.
Topping the ad is the 305cc CB77 “Super Hawk” that was produced by Honda between 1961 up to 1967. Honda historic sites say, “the CB77 is regarded by many enthusiasts as a landmark model in Honda's advances in Western motorcycle markets during the 1960s, and is noted for its speed and power, as well as its reliability.” This was at the time, the top of the line model for Hahn Manila’s Honda lineup. It retails for ₱4,125 – still cheaper than most of today’s sneakers.
Expensive for the time
While these prices are dirt cheap by today’s standards, ₱1,000 was actually a lot of money during the 1960s. For comparison, a Toyota Corolla at the time could be yours for only ₱8,500, while a Mercedes-Benz sedan could be brought home for the price of today’s iPhone SE 256GB at ₱33,000. To put it in perspective, the average wage at the time was only ₱4 or ₱5. A person would have to work 248 days to save enough to buy the cheapest motorcycle on offer.
When I asked my grandma if she remembers how much was the minimum jeepney fare at the time, she told me that it was just “isang pera” which means 1 centavo, and added that rice can be bought for just a couple of cents.
In today's money
Adjusted for inflation, the entry level Honda C240 actually costs ₱115,143 in today's money, much more than the price of the current entry-level BeAT, which is already a 110cc automatic.
The top-of-the-line CB77 Super Hawk would set you back ₱479,763, and that's just a 305cc that wouldn't even be highway legal. For a little more, you can get a CB650R inline-4 that makes nearly 100 hp.
That Corolla would actually cost ₱988,602 today, for a 1600cc with less than 80 Hp. For that money, you can buy a 1500cc Vios that's about the same size, makes more power, with change to set it up.
When you think about it, some vehicles are actually cheaper today and offer far more value.
Then again, a vintage Honda C240 would likely be worth a couple hundred thousand pesos today.