A note about dates: It's pretty easy to be sure of bore and stroke, but dates of production are particularly difficult to establish, especially with these earliest models. The last place to look is in one of the many motorcycle encyclopedias. The best is inside the serial number, as Marusho sometimes used open dating, such as -0- or -60- or -1960- as part of the frame number. Next best evidence is the dates that the ads appeared. For American imported models, the date of first state titling tells you only that the bike was built before that date. I have seen 1966 Marushos titled as 1970 models. The dates below are not inclusive dates -- they are just dates that the models were known to have been produced.
About the order of the models: Rather than list these bikes in chronological order, they are grouped with similar models so you can better see the marque's evolution. This section contains 21 models, counting the ML prototype.
The ML was the prototype and the letters 'ML' describe the series. The first production bike Marusho built was the LB. The prototype ML side-valve engine achieved 150cc with a bore x stroke of 55 x 62, while the production LB bikes used OHV engines of 57 x 58. Surprisingly, there is one of the LCs in California (unless it has been exported back to Japan). The ML had a 2-speed automatic transmission constructed with a planetary gear and two centrifugal oil-bath clutches, while the LB and LC used a conventional 2-speed manual. This information comes from Mr. Sadamu Mizobuchi, Marusho's chief designer from the earliest days. Horsepower claims are all over the place: Some ads claim 3.3, others 3.5, others 4 and one even says 5hp. François-Marie Dumas has supplied the photo of a pre-war Zundapp KK200 at the right, which may have been the inspiration for the ML design.
Other Specs: Side-valve or OHV single (see above), 55x62 or 57x58 (see above), telescopic/rigid, 100kg, 80km/h, 2.75x19/24x2.75. Tire size note:
When you see a big number (20-24) on a Lilac, that's the old style
Photos of Kikuo Iwatate's KD, © K. Iwatate.
Other Specs: Horsepower: While
this is not logical, my sources show the h.p. for the KD as 3.5
and 9 for the KH (I would expect it to have been 5hp, especially
as the company rated it at 90km); tire size 24x2.75 all models;
90km/h for the KD (10 more than the LC)
and 100 for the KH; telescopic/plunger; 120kg (KD), 125kg (KH).
(Above) TW; (left) Zundapp 1953 250 prototype, never built (at least
by Zundapp). This was the only Lilac in this series,
though the engine was used intact in the SW below. Not many were
apparently produced, but having built this model gave Marusho the
credentials to later build the 500cc opposed twins. A few survive in
Japan but there are none in the Register. The blueprint below is
from Katsuyuki Inoue.
Other Specs: SV 338cc
61x58, 12hp (also reported as 10 and 11), 160kg (also reported as a
whopping 189), 110km/h (also reported as 100), 4.00x16 (everyone
agrees on that), 3-speed, Earles front/swingarm (?). Total production: 73.
One of our contributors has an authentic SW. Many more photos of this model are found on the 'Gallery / Photos of Other Lilacs' page.
Other Specs: SV 338cc
61x58, 12hp, usually reported as 100km/h (same as the lesser SY),
177kg, 3.00x19/3.25x19, telescopic/plunger. Total production: 120.
The photos above are of the only SY (in fact the only single-cylinder Lilac 250) in the U.S., taken by Oscar Fricke (©) a long time ago. The tank badge is from an SY photographed in Japan (©) by Kikuo Iwatate. This is the giant killer mentioned in the 'Company History' section and the racing models section. A handsome bike, its engine came from the KH and would have a 6-year run. Early examples had the round chromed engine cover, while later ones had a 4-sided cover, which was carried over into the UY-2. You may recognize the BMW R25/R26 influence in the engine, but many Japanese manufacturers were building their versions of little BMWs, the most outrageous being BIM and DSK (model A25 shown).
Other Specs: 242cc OHV 70x63,
6.5:1, 8.5hp (also reported as 9.5), 142.5kg, 100km/h,
3.00x19/3.25x19 (also reported as rear 3.50x19 -- it is possible
that the 350SW above used 3.50), telescopic/plunger. Total production: 4574.
Other Specs: 3.00x18/3.25x18 (UY),
3.00x18 f,r (UY-2), 155kg (UY), 154kg (UY-2)
You will find references to a model CY-3 also. I think that a long time ago someone made a typo and the myth of the CY-3 began. Yet another typo yielded a mythic CF-3. The references I find say the CF-3 was identical in specs and appearance to the CY-2 but weighed 6kg less and was produced in the same year (duh!). Show me any ad or manual for the 'CY-3' and I'll change this entry.
The successor to the UY series had a pressed rear section and tubular front, Honda Dream-style front suspension and swingarm, and turn signals. No examples are known to have survived.
242cc, 70x63, 13.5hp, 150kg, 110km/h, 3.00x18.
This was the last of the 6-year run of 250cc singles. The Dream front fork was switched back to the telescopic and a full tubular frame was employed. This frame, along with the new tool-box tank, would be employed for the first of the 250cc V-twins, the LS-18/1. None are known to survive, but it wouldn't be too much trouble to build one from a UY-2 and an LS-18/1.
Other Specs: OHV 242cc, 7.0:1, still 70x63, up to 15.5hp, still 150kg, still rated at 110km/h, 3.00x17 (down from 18), telescopic/swing.
Confusion abounds over the model designation. The early ads called
this a 'JF' and showed a telescopic fork. I found one ad from 1956
that used the popular designation 'JF-1'. Apparently the front fork
was changed early on to a leading link, but this occurred before
the JF-2. The JF was definitely offered as both a 90cc and a 104cc
bike, so this is not the difference. Horsepower claims vary
widely, from 2.5 to 3.2 to 3.5, but this could be a natural
evolution and may not be incorrect. Speed claims creep up from
50km/h to 60km/h. I am discounting the name 'JF-1' in favor of 'JF'
unless I find stronger evidence in the form of a factory manual
that 'JF-1' was official. Also I hope a reader will spell out
what constituted a 'JF-2', though that was indeed a bona fide
model designation. Several 90cc examples survive in Japan, all
with leading links, and the Register contains 4.
The "good luck people" and the first dream of the new
year, some Lilacs of course. They are singing "luck, luck, Lilac"
Other Specs: OHV, 48x48 (90cc engine), 2-speed auto and possibly 3-speed standard later, 65kg, 20x2.50. Total production for all JFs: 853.
I understand this did not sell well (and the JF did??) I'd buy one. Where else are you going to get a 6hp (also reported as 5), shaft drive motorbike? To my knowledge there is only one in the United States.
Other Specs: 2-stroke (2nd of 4), 73kg, 70km/h, 2.50x19.
Other Specs: Earles/swing arm,
113kg, 85km/h, 52x58, 6.5:1 (also reported as 6.8:1), 4.1hp,
3-speed, 24x2.75. Total production: 2279.
Other Specs: 3-speed, OHV, 111kg
(BT)/110kg(BR), 10.2hp(BR) (not 14 as reported),
18x2.75 (BR)/24x2.75 (BT), 95km/h(BR)/90km/h(BT), 62x58(BR).
Here we go again. You may encounter Lilac models 'EN-1' and 'EN-2' in the literature. Further, the specs for these two phantom models are identical and they were made at the same time. In fact, Marusho was not in the habit of naming things '1'. If a '2' came along then that might have been added to the model, but mostly these were inventions of the press and enthusiasts. In the case of the EN, I say there never was an EN-2 or even an EN-1, just an EN. Why build two models? Nobody apparently bought the first one. I know of no surviving examples. Perhaps a reader can prove me wrong. This model was replaced by the CS-28 125cc V-twin in 1959.
More specs: 2-stroke (Marusho's
3rd of 4), 52x58, 7.5hp (also given as 7.8), 97kg, 90km/h, bottom
leading link/swing arm, 22x2.75, 3-speed.
'Minna' means 'Everybody'. We know that Lilac made at least one, because we have the photos. Like the AS-71 that followed, this was a 2-stroke (Marusho's 1st of 4) with automatic and final gear drive. If 'Everybody' or even 'Anybody' had bought one we might have an example around today, but none has surfaced.
Other specs: 5.5hp, 87kg,
65km/h, 3.25x12, bottom leading link/swing arm.