Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964

Reaching for the Top in Motorsports (F-1: The Initial Phase)

Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964

"What is F-1?"

In May 1962, Hideo Sugiura, quality manager at Saitama Factory, received an unofficial order from Yoshihito Kudo, director of the research center, "We are planning to compete in F-1. I want you to oversee the project." The resulting exchange was a rather interesting one:

"What is F-1? I have seen some photographs about it before, but I don’t know what it is. Please tell me what F-1 is," asked Sugiura.

Photo

Soichiro Honda and the F-1 prototype car which was covered with a steel space frame like that of the Cooper Climax on which it was modeled

"I don’t know, either," replied Kudo. "It doesn’t matter. Everyone’s a beginner, at first." This conversation is just an example of how foreign a concept F-1, or Formula One, was to Honda’s employees at that time. What little information available to them came from the 2.5-liter British F-1 machine, the Cooper Climax, which the research center had obtained six month earlier.

Honda’s entry in F-1 was announced in January 1964. Ever since the company had won an overall victory at the Isle of Man TT Race, one of motorcycling’s most prominent races, there had been great anticipation concerning Honda’s possible move into car racing. Particularly, the employees of the research center were confident that there was no race that could not be won with their technology.

Despite the previous year’s launch of the T360 mini truck and the S500, a small sports car, Honda was still the youngest car manufacturer in Japan. It was none other than Soichiro Honda who decided to compete in F-1, before any other manufacturer in the country.

Mr. Honda’s passion had been evident since March of 1954, when the company announced its entry into TT motorcycle racing. "Since childhood," he once said, "my dream was to become a champion in world automobile racing with a machine I had made myself." Thus, Honda once again took the fateful first step toward the realization of a dream, this time in the world of cars.

Only a small number of engineers were assembled to handle the F-1 project at first, most of whom had been involved in motorcycle events only. Therefore, to conduct the necessary research and development experienced engineers were hired, and young employees fresh out of college were recruited to provide much needed manpower. The new R&D team was led by the company founder.

"The target for horsepower was decided by Mr. Honda himself," recalls Akio Okudaira, who was in charge of engine performance. "Whether that horsepower could be achieved was not the question. He just told us we must produce this much power in order to win. For example, the code name for the engine, RA270, was assigned by Mr. Honda, who probably wanted to remind us that the engine had to produce 270 horsepower."

The Challenging Spirit of Honda

A System that Fosters Expertise
  1. A System that Fosters ExpertiseA System that Fosters Expertise
  2. The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960The R&D Center Goes Independent / 1960
  3. Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification  / 1960Employing the "My Record" Project and Expert Certification / 1960
A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
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  2. Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962
  3. Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966Entering the Auto Market at Last / 1966
  4. Introducing N360 / 1967Introducing N360 / 1967
  5. Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968Launching the Honda 1300 / 1968
  6. Introducing the CVCC / 1972Introducing the CVCC / 1972
  7. Announcing the Civic / 1972Announcing the Civic / 1972
  8. Introducing the Accord / 1976Introducing the Accord / 1976
Marketing Globally, Producing Lacally
  1. Marketing Globally, Producing LocallyMarketing Globally, Producing Locally
  2. Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959Establishing American Honda Motor Co. / 1959
  3. Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963Establishing Belgium Honda / 1963
  4. Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980Establishing Honda of America Manufacturing / 1980
A Refreshing New Development
  1. A Refreshing New DevelopmentA Refreshing New Development
Products Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  1. Products Emerging From Technology and InnovationProducts Emerging From Technology and Innovation
  2. The Oval Piston Engine / 1979The Oval Piston Engine / 1979
  3. The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968The Hondamatic Transmission / 1968
  4. The Car Navigation System / 1981The Car Navigation System / 1981
  5. The Airbag System / 1987The Airbag System / 1987
  6. Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987Four-Wheel Steering System (4WS) / 1987
  7. The VTEC Engine / 1989The VTEC Engine / 1989
  8. The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977The ME Engine (G100 / 150 / 200 / 300 / 400 Series) / 1977
  9. The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983The ZE Engine (GX110 / 140 / 240 / 270 / 340 Series) / 1983
  10. The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969The Dream CB750 FOUR / 1969
  11. CG125 / 1975CG125 / 1975
  12. Road Pal / 1976Road Pal / 1976
  13. City / 1981City / 1981
  14. The NSX / 1990The NSX / 1990
  15. Odyssey / 1994Odyssey / 1994
  16. Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988Honda EV Plus: The Dream of an Electric Vehicle / 1988
  17. The E300 Portable Generator / 1965The E300 Portable Generator / 1965
  18. The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978The HR21 Lawn Mower / 1978
  19. The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980The F200 "Komame" Mini-Tiller / 1980
Production Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufacturing
  1. Production Technology: The Essence of Creative ManufaturingProduction Technology: The Essence of Creative Manufaturing
  2. Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974Establishment of Honda Engineering / 1974
  3. The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982The World's Smallest Welding Line / 1982
  4. Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981Transfer Lines for Modular Components / 1981
  5. An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988An Automated Line for Painting and Coating / 1988
A Neverending Passion for Racing
  1. A Neverending Passion for RacingA Neverending Passion for Racing
  2. Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962Completion of Suzuka Circuit / 1962
  3. Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979Returning to the World Motorcycle Grand Prix / 1979
  4. Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964Formula One Entry: The Initial Phase / 1964
  5. Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983Formula One Entry: The Second Phase / 1983
  6. Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994Entry to Champ Car Racing / 1994
  7. The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997The Birth of Twin Ring Motegi / 1997
Creativity - The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  1. Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder Creativity – The Way to Work Harder, Play Harder
  2. Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970Holding All Honda Idea Contests / 1970
People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
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  2. Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992Establishment of Honda Taiyo, Kibo-no-Sato Honda and Honda R&D Taiyo / 1992
  3. Creating Hometown Forests / 1977Creating Hometown Forests / 1977
  4. Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991Hosting "Orei-no-kai" / 1991

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