Purple Rain Turns 30, And So Does Prince's Awesome Custom Motorcycle
In 1984, Prince's rock opera Purple Rain grossed more than $80 million at the box office ($7.7 million in its opening weekend), and its accompanying soundtrack album would end up going platinum no less than thirteen times. It was a period of flamboyance, excess and perms, and both the diminutive musician and his breakout film came at exactly the right time. Perhaps Charlie Murphy put it best when he remembered that "Prince was...the s&#t." He sure was, and so was the custom motorcycle that he buzzed around the streets of Minneapolis and the surrounding countryside in. But what exactly was it? RELATED: See Photos of the 2014 Mini Superleggera Motorcycle Concept
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Since Prince's character "The Kid" does a couple of potentially hair-damaging maneuvers in Purple Rain, there were actually three bikes used in production. Two were stunt bikes and all three were Hondas. But the main one, the one on the album cover and the one that everybody wants even if they won't admit it, started out life as a 1981 Honda CB400A "Hondamatic". Powering the bike was a 395 cc air-cooled twin coupled to a two-speed semi-automatic gearbox, and these remained unaltered as the actual changes were almost purely cosmetic.
In getting the full Prince treatment, the bike had its wheels changed from Comstar alloys to spokes and was fitted with a large aftermarket fairing, custom seats with hot pink velour inserts, custom handlebars and a sissy bar on the rear seat. Of course, it was also painted purple to coordinate with the outrageous outfits worn by "The Kid" and featured an early version of Prince's "Love Symbol" on each side of the fairing in, what else, hot pink.
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Prince's custom motorcycle from Purple Rain is fortunately still around, but apparently it is no longer finished in the pink and purple of its glory days. It was refinished in black and gold for the abysmal 1990 sequel to Purple Rain called Graffiti Bridge, a film bad enough to be nominated for five Razzie awards (Purple Rain was only nominated for two). The bike can now be found in its black and gold livery at Prince's Paisley Park Studios outside of Minneapolis.
July marks the 30th anniversary of the film (the album dropped in June 1984), and both movie and music have left a pretty impressive legacy, even if we don't always take either one seriously. But that uniquely customized Honda motorcycle is also worthy of celebration, because although it's about the most undeniably '80s-looking vehicle this side of a Countach caked in cocaine, it still looks as awesome as ever 30 years on.