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The History of Honda

By John Linden

History of jeep

It was October 1946, in Hamamatsu, Japan, when Soichiro Honda took over a factory wartime bombings had left in ruins; determined to succeed post war he established the Honda Technical Research Institute. Soichiro's first attempt at manufacturing was the "rotary weaving machine"; then he tried his hand at mass-producing frosted glass windows. After failing to "take off", and not one to give up, he next tried manufacturing woven bamboo roof panels. Then Soichiro came across a surplus of two-stroke motors and had an idea. With very little gasoline available for transportation, Soichiro decided to build motorbikes. Soichiro started adapting the small 2-cycle motorcycle engines to run on turpentine and attached them to cycle frames Hamamatsu factory workers built. The bikes were popular and soon sold out leading Soichiro to begin manufacturing his own engines; and the history of Honda began.


  • Soichiro Honda takes over factory and establishes the Honda Technical Research Institute.

  • Honda attempts manufacturing the "rotary weaving machine", frosted glass windows mass-production and woven bamboo roof panels.

  • Honda adapts two-stroke motors to run on turpentine and attaches to flimsy bikes built in a Hamamatsu factory.

  • Motorbikes are a huge success, in high demand and sell out.

  • Soichiro begins manufacturing his own bike motors.


  • Honda produces the first complete one-half horsepower A-type bicycle engine (nicknamed The Chimney due to being very smoky.)


  • Honda Motor Company, Ltd. in incorporated.


  • Honda manufactures the more sophisticated D-type; a steel-framed bike with front and rear suspension and speeds up to 50 miles per hour.

Late 1950s

  • Honda introduces the Cub (Vespa clone).


  • On June 11, the first Honda Motor Co., Ltd. overseas subsidiary storefront opened in Los Angeles with six employees.

  • In September, the Los Angeles store begins selling three small motorcycle models, the Benley, Honda Dream and Super Cub (Honda 50).

  • The Cub is the first Honda product sold in the U.S.


  • Honda launches their ad campaign "You meet the nicest people on a Honda."

  • Honda introduces power equipment to the United States and begins selling the F-19 mini-tiller.


  • Honda introduces the U.S. to the E-40 and E-300 portable generators.


  • Honda debuts the Honda Dream CB750 Four in the United States.

  • The first Honda automobile (Honda N600) is sold in America.


  • Honda introduces the world's first quieter, clearer and fuel-efficient 4-stroke outboard marine motors.

  • As the first American energy crisis hits, Honda debuts its fuel-efficient Civic Hatchback.


  • Honda introduces the Honda Civic equipped with a CVCC motor and without a catalytic converter. This groundbreaking technology is the first to meet the new stringent U.S. Clean Air Act regulations.


  • Honda opens the Honda Research California in Gardenia, California and begins research and development in the U.S.


  • Honda debuts the Accord hatchback.


  • Introduces the GL1100 Gold Wing motorcycle.

  • U.S. EPA's most fuel-efficient vehicles (40 miles per gallon EPA rating) list debuts with the Honda Civic CVCC at the top of the list.


  • Using global and domestic sourced parts, Honda becomes the first Japanese automaker to manufacture products in the United States with production of the CR250M Elsinore motorcycles begins at Honda of America, Mfg., Inc. in Marysville, Ohio.


  • Honda begins production of the Accord at its Honda of America Mfg., Inc. factory making Japanese automaker the first to manufacture cars in the U.S.


  • The Honda introduces the CRX-HF, the first EPA fuel economy rating of 50 miles per gallon.

  • Production of walk-behind lawnmowers begins at the new Honda Power Equipment Mfg., Inc. plant in Swepsonville, North Carolina.


  • Honda's new plant, Honda of America Mfg., Inc. opens and begins motorcycle engines production in Anna, Ohio.

  • Engineering and development of new Acura and Honda automobiles, Honda power equipment and motorcycles begins at the new Honda R&D Americas, Inc. Ohio Center opens.


  • In September, the Anna Engine plant manufactures its first automobile motor.

  • Honda is the first Japanese automaker to launch a luxury nameplate in America, selling the Acura Integra sports sedan and Legend at 60 U.S. Acura dealers.


  • The Honda Accord Coupe is the first ever U.S. manufactured automobile exported to Japan.


  • The Accord becomes the first international vehicle to earn America's best-selling car title.

  • Production of Honda Civic vehicles begins at Honda's second American automobile plant in East Liberty, Ohio.


  • The Acura NSX equipped with the world's first, and Honda's now legendary Variable Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC®) engine technology and an aluminum body debuts.


  • Designed, developed and produced in the United States, the Accord Wagon debuts.


  • Honda becomes a new entry in the IndyCar® open-wheeled racing series.


  • The Civic becomes the first vehicle to meet the California LEV (Low Emission Vehicle) exhaust emission standards.


  • Honda begins production of automatic transmissions at their new Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. plant in Russells Point, Ohio.


  • Leasing begins of the Honda EV Plus® battery-electric 4-door passenger sedan, equipped with nickel metal hydride batteries.


  • Honda introduces the Civic Natural Gas powered by natural gas.

  • All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) begin production at the new Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc. plant in Timmonsville, South Carolina.


  • Honda launches the 2000 Honda Insight as the United States' first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle with a 70 miles per gallon EPA rating.


  • The Honda Civic compact, designed, developed and produced in the U.S., is the first to receive the NHTSA's (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) 5 star safety rating for both side and frontal impacts.

  • Manufacturing of the Odyssey minivan begins at the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, LLC; the first automobile manufacturing zero waste-to-landfill plant.

  • Honda is the first to manufacture a complete line meeting or exceeding the California LEV emissions standards.


  • Civic Hybrid is the first massed-produced vehicle equipped with gas-electric powertrain technology. Honda also introduced their mid-size crossover SUV - Honda Pilot.

  • The U.S. EPA certifies the Honda FCX at the world's first fuel cell automobile.


  • "Safety for Everyone" campaign launches.


  • The HondaJet® sales begin Honda Aircraft Company, Inc.

  • New plant manufacturing automobile transmissions, Honda Precision Parts Georgia, LLC, opens in Tallapoosa, Georgia.


  • HondaJet® production facility and world headquarters ground breaking in Greensboro, North Carolina.

  • Acura Design Studio opens in Torrance, California.

  • The Union of Concerned Scientists, for the fourth consecutive year, recognizes Honda as the "greenest automaker" in America.


  • Civic sedans manufacturing begins in Greensburg, Indiana at the Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC; Honda's fourth United States plant.

  • The new Marine Engine Research Facility opens in Grant-Valkaria, Florida by Honda R&D Americas, Inc.


  • The Acura is achieves (first ever) both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) "Top Safety Pick " and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 5-star crash safety rating.


  • Honda launches the CR-Z Sport Hybrid.

  • The all-new Odyssey, 23rd U.S. designed and engineered model launches.


  • Honda Aero, Inc. construction begins in Burlington, North Carolina to produce GE Honda HF120 turbofan engines.

  • American Honda Motor, Co., Inc. celebrates its 50-year anniversary.


  • Honda HA-420 HondaJet® production begins.


  • Honda invests around $6.8 billion (5.7%) of revenues in research and development.


  • Honda announces in July production will end of the Honda FCX Clarity and Fit EV in 2015.

When Soichiro Honda took over the factory in Hamamatsu, Japan in October 1946, he had big dreams of succeeding in the marketplace. Throughout the history of Honda, his name has surely surpassed his biggest expectations becoming an icon known to represent some of the best made and most trusted products worldwide.