The Car That Continues to Evolve by Maintaining Harmony with the Times, People, and Society
The completed 671, designed as a high-class cousin of the Civic, was named "Accord." True to its meaning of "harmony and agreement," it fully represented the concept of this new adult car. Moreover, it made an original statement, aspiring to please the driver and passengers while fostering a new state of harmony between car and society.
The first Accord model with a novel 3-door hatchback design hit the Japanese market in May 1976. At an invitational test-drive held in Hakone, automotive journalists raved about virtually every aspect of the car, from design, interior comfort, and user-friendliness to its ride comfort and quiet operation. The Accord's fundamental concept, too, found immediate acceptance in the market. The car was truly a major hit, establishing some amazing records.
The monthly sales target for Japan, which was initially set at 4,000 units, was doubled to 8,000 units within just three months of the Accord's release. Accordingly, the production volume at Saitama Factory's Sayama Plant was substantially re-outfitted so that eventually its 8,000-unit monthly goal was adjusted to 11,500. Yet, despite the increase in production, public demand continued to exceed the planned production and sales volumes by a considerable margin. Consequently, domestic sales during the first year, over a nominal six-month period, reached 53,752 units.
The Accord had provided an eager market with a combination of concept, specifications, and equipment simply not found in previous compact models. As a result, the Accord was awarded the 1976 Japan Car of the Year Award by Motor Fan magazine.
The Accord's stunning popularity was boosted even further with the introduction of the four-door sedan introduced in October 1977. That year, the Accord line of three- and four-door models sold 83,941 units.
The Accord four-door sedan attracted the gaze of visitors at the 22nd Tokyo Motor Show, held in 1977.
Honda premiered its new 1800 cc model in September 1978, featuring a few minor improvements, and with that, the Accord's domestic sales volume grew again, reaching a one-year total of 94,986 units. Thanks to the Accord, an industry newcomer was able to consolidate its foothold in Japan's compact-car segment.
In a move designed to cultivate a market in the U.S., Honda began exporting the three-door hatchback in May 1976, right after the car's introduction in Japan. That year, the Accord sold 18,643 units in the U.S. Sales volume experienced dramatic growth the following year, with sales totaling 75,995 units.
"When we brought the Accord evaluation car to American Honda (AH)," Kizawa said, "Mr. Munekuni [in charge of sales as corporate director of AH] and the engineering staff raved about the car, saying it would be the next big thing after the Civic." However, the plan to export the four-door version had to be postponed following a decision at the evaluation meeting that the 1600 cc engine was not powerful enough for American four-door sedan buyers. Subsequently, a new model was developed, providing better dynamic performance with increased displacement of 1800 cc. Honda began exporting the upgraded sedan in September 1978, winning considerable praise from U.S. customers. As a result, combined sales of three- and four-door Accords grew rapidly, reaching 120,841 units in 1978.
The Accord thus began its evolution as the standard compact car for the American market. In fact, it was soon so popular that people did not really mind having to pay a little extra for it. Thanks to the Accord's success, Honda's market grew steadily in the U.S., and the company cemented its position overseas as a premier auto manufacturer.