The world's largest motorcycle manufacturer did not make its first car until 1963, and even then it owed much of its mechanical underpinnings to the two wheeled variety. Founded by Soichiro Honda, one of nine children from a poor family, he was a gifted engineer and astute businessman. Apprenticed in a car repair shop, got his first chance to actually drive a car during the Toyko earthquake of 1923, then ferrying people and supplies around the devastated city. Dabbled with racing cars, but his big break came after World War 2 when he realised that few could afford a car, and so turned his attention to the manufacture of ex-military two-stoke engines fitted to bicycles. Manufactured their first motorcycle, the Dream, in 1949, which was fitted with a four-stoke engine. Launched the chain driven 500 sports car in 1963, subsequent iterations becoming more conventional, and more popular.
Collector Notes: Magnificently conceived, but almost monumental in its failure to capture the world market, Honda's baby sports car (and coupe) was launched with high expectations. The S600, with its high-revving twin-cam engine (42 kW at 8500 rpm) and rear wheel chain drive, arrived in Australia in 1965. In 1967, it was replaced by the S800 with more capacity, more power (52 kW at 8000 rpm) and more conventional drive line. It remained on sale until late in 1970. The small Hondas are great fun to. drive, but parts and service are the major problems facing potential owners. Technically, the S800 was a gem, with a twin-OHC alloy engine, front disc brakes, full synchromesh and a conventional rear axle. Early Honda's, particularly the sports versions, have been appreciating over the last decade.
1963 - 1966
A plaque in the Honda Collection Hall recalls the days when Soichiro Honda went from being a motorcycle manufacturer to a maverick carmaker. "I didn't want to build a car like everyone else's". More>>
1968 - 1973
The Honda Scamp changed a lot of pre-conceived ideas about mini cars with mini engines – the concept of which had become a little maligned by the likes of the Glas Goggomobil and Lightburn Zeta. More>>
1969 - 1973
Superb and incredible. Not our words, but those of motoring journalists after getting behind the wheel of the diminutive front wheel drive air-cooled Japanese Coupe. There were two models of the 1300 Coupe on sale in Australia: the "9" and its baby brother, the "7". The cars were identical in body and trim specification and shared the 1300 engine capacity. More>>
1972 - 1979
To break into the lucrative international markets Honda needed to produce a vehicle perceived as 'economical', having the appeal of the venerable Mini, while offering new levels of ride and comfort. More>>
1976 - 1981
When the Accord was released Honda had manufacturers from Wolfsburg, Milan, Turin, Billancourt and even Japanese Toyota in their sights. Of course with the benefit of hindsight we can claim the Accord was a brilliant car – arguably better than any of the competitors. It was beautiful, it went well, cornered well and stopped well. More>>
1986 - 1990
The Honda Legend was arguably the first attempt by a Japanese manufacturer to compete head on with the European luxury car makers, the first Japanese car purpose built to tackle Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Volvo and Saab on their own terms. More>>
In 1991 Honda was to release undoubtedly their finest car, and a worthy flagship for the marque, the mighty NSX. Graced with sleek and purposeful styling, the NSX was embodied with a sublime rear-wheel drive chassis and a fantastic mid-mounted V6 engine - the only thing lacking was the cache of its European rivals. More>>
The Honda S2000 produces more power per litre than any other non-turbo production engine and sends the rev counter needle sweeping around to the 9,000 mark. Honda built this remarkable two-litre car to celebrate its 50 year anniversary. More>>