Fifty Years of Honda in America

Don Sherman

Having established solid foundations around the globe, Honda has spent the last two decades stretching its tentacles into new markets, traipsing boldly into realms ignored by most vehicle manufacturers, and keeping the competition honest. Today, Honda is the world's largest engine producer, thanks to its broad range of lawn and garden tools and electric generators. Honda's land and sea power toys include ATVs, motorcycles, scooters, personal watercraft, and outboard motors.

The sky is definitely not the limit for this brand. A decade of development evolved a 1997 pencil sketch by Honda engineer Michimasa Fujino into a 480-mph, five-passenger business jet. Honda's 2006 announcement that the $3.65 million HondaJet would be produced in the United States generated more than 100 customer deposits in three days. The first production flight is targeted for next year, and our hands have been raised high for an early test flight.

Soichiro's Sidekick

Although Soichiro Honda (far left) deserves ample credit for instilling his firm with technical brilliance, Honda would not be the powerhouse it is today without Takeo Fujisawa's inspired contributions. The two joined forces in 1949 when an upstart gang of twenty employees desperately needed finance and marketing expertise. Like Honda, Fujisawa had graduated from the school of hard knocks. While his business brain was the perfect complement to Honda's mechanical intuition, it was Fujisawa who suggested the move from two- to four-stroke engines and the lightweight, 50-cc motorcycle--which became the Super Cub--" on which a young couple would start whistling happy melodies." After twenty-four years of meshing together like well-oiled gears, Honda and Fujisawa retired from the Honda Motor Company in 1973.

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