For more than 40 years, the Gold Wing has been Honda’s flagship motorcycle. From the M1 “King of Kings” prototype to the introduction of the GL1000 for 1975 and multiple model generations since, the legendary Gold Wing rewrote the rules for power, smoothness, reliability and comfort, and it launched—and came to define—luxury motorcycle touring in America and beyond. The following timeline charts significant and notable milestones in the Gold Wing’s history.
- A team led by Soichiro Irimajiri develops the M1 prototype (also known as Project 371), a flat-six, 1,470cc precursor of the Gold Wing.
- The first Gold Wing—the 1975 GL1000 KO with a liquid-cooled 999cc flat four-cylinder engine—makes its public debut at the Cologne Show in Germany. Developed by Toshio Nozue (also responsible for the CB750), the model is dubbed “the ultimate motorcycle” by Honda.
- Honda offers an LTD version of the GL1000, with special features like LTD badges, gold striping, a chromed radiator shroud and a special seat and wheels.
- Rider passion quickly emerges as the Gold Wing Road Riders Association (GWRRA) is founded in Phoenix.
- The first edition of the Wing Ding touring rally is held in Phoenix.
- On June 10, Honda opens its $50 million, 260,000 square-foot production facility in Marysville, Ohio.
- Honda produces the all-new, 1,085cc Gold Wing GL1100. Among the many changes are a longer wheelbase, electronic ignition, increased fuel capacity and lighter weight.
- The GL1100’s Interstate version features an optional stereo-intercom system with signal-seeking tuning.
- On May 1, Honda’s Marysville Motorcycle Plant produces its first Gold Wing.
- Hoping to expand the touring experience to a new demographic of riders, Honda offers the GL500 Silver Wing.
- Honda introduces a luxurious Aspencade version of the GL1100, featuring two-tone paint and all of the updates from the Interstate.
- The American Gold Wing Association is founded.
- The GL1100 debuts unified braking and Honda’s Torque Reactive Anti-Dive Control (TRAC) front suspension system.
- Honda produces the all-new 1,182cc GL1200, which has a stiffer frame, repositioned engine, smaller wheels, longer wheelbase and swingarm, and upgraded suspension.
- Honda commemorates 25 years in America and 10 years of Honda Gold Wing motorcycles with the GL1200L Limited Edition, which features auto-leveling rear suspension that maintains correct ride height regardless of varying load sizes.
- The naked version of the GL1200 is discontinued.
- Honda opens an engine plant in Anna, Ohio, where GL engines would eventually be produced.
- Dolby noise reduction is added to the Gold Wing’s audio system.
- The Gold Wing Touring Association is founded.
- The Gold Wing grows two cylinders and is introduced as the all-new, 1,520cc flat-six GL1500. Highlights include a smoother transmission, increased fuel capacity, a stiffer chassis, improved brakes and a comprehensive fairing.
- Honda introduces the PC800 Pacific Coast, a smaller, 800cc, Gold Wing-inspired model featuring automotive-influenced styling.
- Large Project Leader Masanori Aoki moves to the U.S. for three years to learn English and study the Gold Wing culture prior to developing the 2001 GL1800.
- American Honda publishes “Gold Wing: The First 20 Years,” a book by Vreeke & Associates celebrating the Gold Wing’s two-decade anniversary.
- To recognize the Gold Wing’s 20th anniversary, Honda offers three commemorative models.
- On July 26, the Marysville plant produces its 1 millionth U.S.-built Honda—a Gold Wing.
- Honda introduces the Valkyrie, a high-performance cruiser based on the GL1500 chassis.
- Coinciding with the Gold Wing’s 25th anniversary, GL engine production is moved from Anna, Ohio, back to Marysville.
- Whitehorse Press publishes “Honda Gold Wing,” a book by Darwin Holmstrom.
- Debut of the sensational GL1800. Developed under Masanori Aoki, it brings a larger, 1,832cc flat six, fuel injection, an aluminum frame and optional ABS braking to the Gold Wing, and it has 20 patents for technological innovations.
- As part of its Great Bikes book series, Haynes publishes “Honda Gold Wing” by Ian Falloon.
- Honda introduces the Valkyrie Rune, a radical-looking, heavily chromed, limited-edition GL1800-based cruiser.
- For its 30th anniversary, the Gold Wing gets a special commemorative badge.
- The Gold Wing gets in-dash GPS, as well as heated seat and handgrips.
- Honda offers a GL1800 with the world’s first motorcycle airbag.
- XM Satellite Radio is added to the Gold Wing’s audio system.
- No Gold Wing model is produced.
- The GL1800 gets its most significant update since being introduced for 2001, with fresh styling, better handling and other upgrades.
- Gold Wing production moves to Kumamoto, Japan.
- Honda releases the F6B, a leaner, meaner bagger version of the Gold Wing.
- Honda reintroduces the Valkyrie cruiser, which features bold, futuristic styling.
- Honda celebrates the Gold Wing’s 40th anniversary with a special model featuring commemorative badges, a two-tone paint scheme, an embossed passenger seat and a special ignition key.
- Honda introduces an all-new, sixth-generation Gold Wing that sheds weight, is available with an optional 7-speed automatic Dual Clutch Transmission and adds other state-of-the-art features such as riding modes. It’s available as a standard model with no trunk (a replacement for the F6B) or as a Tour model with a trunk.