The Honda company was incorporated 68 years ago on September 25th, 1948. The founder, Soichiro Honda, always had a lifelong interest in automobiles. Born in 1906, Soichiro Honda left school at the age of 15 and started working as an apprentice mechanic in Tokyo.
1. Early Beginnings
By 1928, Soichiro returned home and started an auto repair company. Soichiro Honda always had a passion for racing, which is something you can see by looking at the history of Honda. In 1936, Soichiro participated in the “1st Japan Automobile Race” at Tamagawa Speedway. Unfortunately, he crashed and seriously injured his left eye, which caused his retirement from racing. Despite this setback, racing always held a special part of Soichiro’s heart.
2. World War 2 & The A Type
In 1937, Soichiro founded Tökai Seiki. Their first major contract was to produce piston rings for Toyota. After securing the piston ring deal with Toyota, the entire country of Japan was thrown into turmoil by the Second World War.
Instead of focusing on automotive manufacturing, Tökai Seikai constructed propellers for military plans. In 1944, one of Tökai Seiki’s plants was destroyed in a bombing attack and another plant was destroyed in 1945 by an earthquake. After the war, Soichiro Honda sold the remains of the company to Toyota.
In 1948, Soichiro Honda began working on the A type. While the A type isn’t particularly remembered for its performance, its construction brought innovation to the automotive industry.
The assembly process for the A type set new standards for automotive manufacturing. Soichiro Honda himself introduced the use of a conveyor line to speed up the production of the bikes. The idea of the conveyor line was to reduce the distances that parts had to be moved and make the process of putting the bikes together less strenuous on the workers. The conveyor line allowed production to take up less space and made the manufacturing process more efficient.
While these innovations may seem insignificant, it set the foundation for how automotive company’s handle assembly.
3. Expansion Into The Racing World
By the late 1950’s, Honda was expanding into the world of racing and international sales. People were still skeptical of the quality of a foreign motorized vehicle around this time. Racing on an international stage was an excellent way of promoting the company as well as proving that Japenese products could compete with the rest of the world.
The Isle of Man race is where Honda broke into the international scene. With their win in 1961, people started to take a closer look at the relatively unknown car company. By 1965 a Honda vehicle was able to earn a victory at the Mexican Grand Prix. The next year in 1966 Honda won Constructors Championships in all five-motorcycle Grand Prix classes.
Honda’s racing wins in the 50’s, and 60’s set the foundation for Honda becoming known for its innovation, ingenuity, and adaptation of technology. The company well reflected Soichiro Honda’s love for racing during this period.
4. Consumer Vehicles & Present Day
After about a decade of research, Honda made a move to open 60 new dealerships across North America. In 1986, Honda became the first Japanese car company to release a dedicated luxury brand, Acura. The idea of opening the 60 dealerships was to support the launch of Acura.
Acura became a huge success in North America. Sales of the Acura Legend surpassed everyone’s expectations. The launch of Acura in North America was so successful that it inspired companies like Toyota and Nissan to start their own luxury brands.
Nowadays, it’s hard to travel a mile without seeing a Civic or some Honda vehicle. Honda’s longevity and ingenuity can be traced back to its humble beginnings with Soichiro Honda at the helm. The foundation Soichiro Honda set continues to serve Honda in the present day.