Fifty Years of Honda in America

Don Sherman

Honda Milestones:

1906 Soichiro Honda, the eldest son of a blacksmith and bicycle repairman, is born in a small village located 170 miles southwest of Tokyo.

1937 Following his car mechanic apprenticeship and participation in a few amateur races, Honda begins manufacturing piston rings.

1948 The Honda Motor Company is established to equip bicycles with war-surplus generator engines.

1949 Honda begins manufacturing a 98-cc two-stroke engine for its first motorcycle, the Dream D-type.

1950 Honda's savvy business partner, Takeo Fujisawa, advocates the move to four-stroke engines.

1952 Honda introduces the Cub, with an overhead-valve four-stroke engine and an automatic clutch.

1955 Honda tops the motorcycle sales charts in Japan.

1959 The American Honda Motor Company is established in Los Angeles to sell motorcycles.

1962 "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" advertising begins. Honda completes Japan's first major race circuit at Suzuka City.

1963 Honda's first four-wheeled models are an S500 sports car and a T360 mini-truck, each powered by a DOHC, four-carburetor, four-cylinder engine.

1964 To promote its reputation as a carmaker, Honda enters Formula 1 racing. In 1965, Richie Ginther's 1.5-liter Honda RA272 wins the final race of the season at Mexico City.

1966 Honda sweeps all five grand prix motorcycle world championship classes, from 50- to 500-cc.

1969 Honda's first superbike, the CB750, is powered by an OHC four-cylinder. Sales of N600 minicars begin in Hawaii, with expansion to California, Oregon, and Washington the following year.

1973 The Honda Civic, powered by an innovative Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion engine, meets stringent U.S. emissions standards without a catalytic converter.

1979 Honda begins manufacturing motorcycles in Marysville, Ohio, adding Accord production in 1982 and Civics in 1986.

1986 The Acura brand is launched with the introduction of the Integra and the Legend.

1991 The Acura NSX, Japan's first supercar, wins Automobile Magazine's Automobile of the Year award.

1997 Production of the Honda EV Plus electric car commences. Honda's Twin Ring Motegi motorsports complex opens in Japan.

2000 The Honda Insight is the first gas/electric hybrid sold in the United States.

2003 The HondaJet twin-engine business aircraft completes its maiden flight.

2008 The Honda FCX Clarity is the first (limited) production electric car to be powered by a fuel cell.

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