"Once when I was a kid, I rand ager a Ford Model T and held my nose up to the oil that sputtered out onto the ground. I took a whiff and was thrilled by the smell. That experience led to my making automobiles today." These were Soichiro Honda's words upon achieving a place in America's Automobile Hall of Fame in October 1989. It all started when, in May 1961, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) announced the Japanese government's basic policy on automobiles (later called the Specified Industry Promotion Bill). This, Honda's long held dream of joining the auto industry had suddenly become a reality.
Honda exhibited its first automobiles the S360, S500, and T360 at the 9th Tokyo Motor Show in October 1962.
The Third Research Section was launched at Shirako Plant's R&D Center in September 1958. Starting with the XA710, a prototype mini automobile based on the "people's car" concept announced in May 1955, the section continued its development of vehicles such as the XA190, a two-seater sportscar, and the XA120, a mini truck.
MITI's May 1961 announcement of the basic policy on automobiles (later the Specified Industry Promotion Bill) meant that no new comers would be allowed to join the car industry. To establish production records showing that cars had been built before the law took effect, in January 1962, Honda immediately began manufacturing prototypes of mini sportscars and trucks.
A Honda Sports S360 driven by Soichiro himself, blasted around the track at the Suzuka Circuit, still under construction, at the 11th National Assembly of the Association of Honda Dealers held on June 5, 1962. As he zoomed past the main grand stand, the crowd in attendance watched in awe and amazement, seeing with their own eyes the accomplishments of the man and his young, energetic car company. The T360 mini truck also was exhibited that day, and together the three – a sportscar, a truck, and the man who said the vehicles would be built – made their statement: Honda had made a place for itself in the industry.
Honda began building Service Factories (SF) nationwide in July 1964, and by April 1966, Honda had established three new operations: Honda Used Car Sales Co., Ltd.; Honda Sales Research Co., Ltd.; and Honda Finance Co., Ltd. The move was part of program to establish a support system and structure that would allow dealers to concentrate on sales. Moreover, it provided the means for motorcycle dealers to become car dealers.
The construction of sales offices began in December 1966 in major cities across the nation. By the following spring, a network of seventy offices had been established
Honda's first mini passenger automobile, the N360, was introduced on October 21, 1966. With maximum output of 31 horsepower, a top speed of 115 kilometers per hour, and gas mileage of 28 kilometers per liter, its performance was comparable to many small passenger cars of the time. Added to that were features such as a spacious interior that comfortably seated four adults and safety considerations that fully exceeded the traditional concept of a mini automobile. The following December, Honda announced that its new car would sell for 313,000 yen , a price that caused quite a stir among consumers.
The Honda 1300 small passenger automobile made its debut in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya on October 21, 1968. Equipped with the world's first revolutionary DDAC(Duo Dyna Air Cooling System) engine , the product represented Honda's hopes of breaking into the market for small passenger cars.
Honda's CVCC low pollution engine design was formally revealed on October 11, 1972. The engine was sent to the Emissions Laboratory of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S., and was tested in the presence of officials in late December 1972. The new engine was the first to pass the 1975 regulations under the Muskie Act.
The Civic, Honda's new small passenger car, was introduced in July 1972. A trapezoid-shaped, two box FF2, Civic represented a completely new concept for the automotive world. What resulted was a new phase of activity in the small-car segment.
Honda came out with its Accord CVCC 1600 in May 1976. The attractive, well-equipped hatchback model, which satisfied a variety of daily needs, immediately assumed an important role in Honda's global marketing strategy.
Civic and Accord quickly evolved as key models and world-famous cars, supporting Honda's production and sales both domestically and overseas.