Honda Colors!

The story of how Honda painted the world red

In addition to cars and motorcycles, Honda makes a wide range of power products including tillers, generators, snow throwers and lawn mowers.
Today, red tillers and red generators are synonymous with the Honda brand throughout the world.
(Honda marine engines, meanwhile, are always silver. Find out why in Seafarers say “Silver means Honda.”)

But Honda was not always the industry leader. Honda was in fact a late starter in all segments, and was seen as a challenger in the industry.

So how did Honda come to be such a dominant global force?
And why so many red products?

The bright red tiller that was a hit for Honda

Honda’s first tiller, the F150 launched in 1959, was distinguished by a bright red body.

Unfortunately there is no surviving documentation to indicate who chose the distinctive color for the product.

Interestingly, the Cub F Type auxiliary bicycle engine, a compact and lightweight reliable motor with a striking design that was released in 1952, was marketed as “the red engine with a white fuel tank,” suggesting that the choice of red was already popular with consumers. Honda had firmly established itself as the company that made red engines.

At one point Soichiro gathered his agricultural machinery engineers together and said, “There are plenty of products other than motorcycles that people would find useful. So I want you to think of ways that we can use science and technology to reduce heavy labor in the farming and fishing industries in particular.”

The result was the F150 tiller, painted in the distinctive red color referred to in-house as R2. With its many user-friendly innovations, the F150 proved to be a massive hit product in what was a relatively crowded market segment. And from then on, Honda tillers have always been red.

  • The F150, finished in R2 red. At the time of its release, the idea of painting industrial machinery red was considered groundbreaking.

    The F150, finished in R2 red. At the time of its release, the idea of painting industrial machinery red was considered groundbreaking.

  • The R2 color sample (painted directly onto metal) at Honda

    The R2 color sample (painted directly onto metal) at Honda

  • Soichiro operating a prototype tiller. The F150 project was largely driven by the Honda founder.

    Soichiro operating a prototype tiller. The F150 project was largely driven by the Honda founder.

  • The Cub F Type: was the “red engine with the white tank” the true origin of the Honda red engine?

    The Cub F Type: was the “red engine with the white tank” the true origin of the Honda red engine?

A portable generator 
for the world

Honda soon expanded into the field of engine generators, with the aim of developing a compact, lightweight, portable and super-quiet source of power ready for use anytime, anywhere. Honda engineers were committed to producing a revolutionary new product worthy of the Honda brand.

Soichiro exhorted his engineers to make a machine “that does not look imposing or hard to use, that doesn’t even feel like a machine.” He also advised them to pay attention even to the bottom face of the product and parts that aren’t visible.

The E300 portable generator, released in 1965, sported a radical cubic shape and rounded knobs in place of conventional switches, as part of a simpler and friendlier design aesthetic intended to appeal to first-time users of generator equipment. The color, of course, was red, conveying a strong, advanced and reliable image and providing a visible presence in outdoor settings. The E300 appealed to younger age groups for camping and other outdoor pursuits.

With its unorthodox design and striking color, the E300 proved popular throughout the world as well as in Japan and quickly became a global bestseller.

  • The E300 was meticulously designed to be user-friendly and easy to operate

    The E300 was meticulously designed to be user-friendly and easy to operate

  • Catalog listing for the E300 in 1965

    Catalog listing for the E300 in 1965

  • Today, Honda generators are used the world over, such as in this stall in India, where power outages are a frequent occurrence

    Today, Honda generators are used the world over, such as in this stall in India, where power outages are a frequent occurrence

    Honda generators power communication and lighting systems for mountain climbers in the Himalayas

    Honda generators power communication and lighting systems for mountain climbers in the Himalayas

Red means Honda, 
red means reliable

In addition to tillers and generators, Honda uses red for a wide range of power products including snow throwers, lawn mowers, trimmers and water pumps.

Honda also supplies stand-alone engines for a broad range of applications. Honda products have a reputation for reliability, durability and advanced features in markets and territories worldwide.

The famous red Honda products have been helping people all over the world for many years and will continue to do so for years to come.

  • This lifter being used to restore a church in Italy is powered by a Honda engine

    This lifter being used to restore a church in Italy is powered by a Honda engine

  • The ME engine has proved a worldwide hit, selling over a million units since its release in 1977

    The ME engine has proved a worldwide hit, selling over a million units since its release in 1977

  • In Thailand, Honda outboard engines are the preferred choice of fishermen

    In Thailand, Honda outboard engines are the preferred choice of fishermen

  • Color samples: from left to right, the R2 (1959), the R8 (1975) and the R280 (2003). Note the subtle evolution of the distinctive Honda red over the years.

    Color samples: from left to right, the R2 (1959), the R8 (1975) and the R280 (2003). Note the subtle evolution of the distinctive Honda red over the years.

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