The Early Days of Honda

December 2nd, 2012 by

 Honda LogoAt Middletown Honda we love the history of our brand. It’s a true underdog story of perseverance and grit, with a young ambitious protagonist that always insisted on doing things his own way — the right way. Now Honda is one of the most successful automakers in the world, as well as the biggest maker of motorcycles and engines by volume. Here’s a peek back into the early days of Honda.

The Founding of Honda

Soichiro Honda was always interested in automobiles. He was born in 1906, around the same time that the auto industry began in Japan. In fact, Yamaha created the first Japanese bus in 1904 that was powered by a steam engine. The first gas-powered car was created in 1911 by Kwaishinsha Motor Car Works, the company that would evolve into Nissan. Soichiro Honda wasn’t born into the industry, but he made a place in it for himself.

At first he worked as a mechanic in Art Sokai garage, where he learned how to tune and race cars. He then founded a company that made piston rings and attempted to market them, winning a contract with Toyota. Their initial arrangement ended badly when Toyota rejected the rings for quality control issues, but Honda attended engineering school and traveled around the country to visit Toyota plants to learn more about their quality control procedures, refusing to fail. He returned to work soon after and created an innovative automated system that allowed unskilled laborers to make piston rings more efficiently.

That business was destroyed in World War II and Honda sold the salvageable remains to Toyota. After the war ended, Honda managed to secure 500 surplus two-stroke 50 cc radio generator engines. He realized that he could use the motors to convert bicycles into motorcycles. These little motorcycles, nicknamed Bata Batas for the sound of the little two-stroke engines, sold like crazy, and in only a few short years Honda was the biggest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world.

The first four wheeled Honda vehicle showed up in 1963, and was a mini pickup truck. A roadster came out the same year and the rest, as they say, is history.

Visit Middletown Honda Today

While we don’t have any gas-powered bicycles at Middletown Honda, we would love to show off the latest Honda vehicles. Schedule a test drive now to see why Honda vehicles are among the most highly regarded in the world.