I tend to get some of the same questions when someone finds out I work on BIG REDS or show someone around my shop. "Why do you still work on these things?”. “Why do you have so many of these old three wheelers?" The typical follow up questions are "aren't they illegal and dangerous?" and "do people still ride these things?". It's no secret that I like BIG REDS - I do have some reasons. For me it is the simplicity, mature value, good parts availability, utility, and the vintage/cool factor. Let me break each of these down.
Simplicity – Compared to today’s machines with computers, fuel injections, and sophisticated suspensions the BIG REDS are simple machines. Simplicity means easier troubleshooting when things go wrong and less parts to replace. Shaft drive (1984-1987 models), drum brakes, and air cooled motors are easily maintained. Simple machines tend to be reliable – just less to go wrong. I don’t know about your particular area but there are a lot of BIG REDS and 1940’s 1950’s vintage tractors that are still being used on a regular basis.
Mature value – For me this means that most of the depreciation and appreciation has already occurred. In my area you can buy a decent BIG RED for about $600 to $1,200 and if you buy it right and take care of it you can probably sell it for the price you bought it. This is not the case for some newer vehicles. Look at the side by side market. The machines they are making today are far better than the first Rhino’s and razors. The early side by side vehicles have had a huge deprecation. Lately I have seen prices for BIG REDS going up although I’m not sure if the sellers are getting the higher prices.
Parts availability – Unless you are doing a complete original restoration most parts can be obtained new or used for your BIG RED. This means you can keep your machine running and working for years to come. I have found that many more new OEM parts are available as compared to years past. I speculate that this is due to demand. EBay can be an excellent source of used parts that are not available new. If you are doing a restoration many small businesses have sprung up to help get you what you need (seat covers, decals, etc.). It also helps that the BIG REDS do share some parts with other model Honda ATC’s.
Cool factor – I was just at a birthday party for one of my neighbors. I strapped down the cooler and headed over to the party on the trusty 1985 BIG RED. I got a lot of stares as I pulled up to the party and backed it into a parking spot. I had multiple people say things like “I used to have one just like it” “I still use one of those when I go out hunting” and “man I haven’t seen one of those in years”. I had quite a few younger people check out the BIG RED as if they were surprised to see it. (you know the whole “illegal – death trap” stereotype” I like old stuff. Cars, trucks, motorcycles. I’m sure many of you that have older vehicles have the same experience of strangers coming up to you and starting a conversation relating to that old vehicle.
Utility/Still gets the job done – For me the BIG RED is my daily vehicle to get around the property and get some work done. Does it do as much as the farm tractor? No but I don’t expect it to. The BIG RED has its purpose and it does it well. It does what it needs to so well I don’t even think about selling it.
These are just a few reasons I enjoy owning a BIG RED. If you are thinking about buying one of these machines, I hope some of my reasons help you make a decision.