Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962

Paving the Way for Auto Production

Launching the S360 and T360 / 1962

Nothing is Impossible

Honda’s management, thus compelled to secure sufficient car-production records before the Specified Industries Bill could be passed, hurriedly sent an order to Honda R&D in January 1962, saying that development must proceed immediately. The plan was to develop two mini sports cars and two mini trucks, and to exhibit the prototypes at the 11th National Honda Meeting General Assembly (the so-called "Honda Meeting") scheduled for later that year.

The R&D Center’s targeted date of completion had initially been set for April 15, but it was moved to June 5 to accommodate scheduling of the new Suzuka Circuit’s preopening ceremony. On that day, the new models were displayed and test-driven at the Suzuka Circuit, even though portions of it were still under construction.

"The Third Research Section’s design team was originally made up of seven people, but by 1961, it had grown to around fifteen," recalled Masao Kawamura, the man in charge of exterior design. "At first, I was the only one in the molding group who handled automobiles, but by then that number had also increased, making it three of us. Since the company had decided to develop two models at the same time, that number was again increased to six, as a kind of emergency measure. So, there was a six-member mini truck team, and in order to push development it was divided into two groups."

The new prototype bodies were to be based on the previous XA190 and 3XA120 prototypes, which had already been tested and specifications were refined through numerous improvements. Although the team had the advantage of base models, they would still face the challenge of reflecting Mr. Honda’s detailed instructions in their progress.

Testing moved to the water-cooled, inline four-cylinder DOHC engine designated "XA250" following the discovery of certain limitations in the previous air-cooled engine. With this new base configuration they began developing two engine types for the two models, accommodating their respective body shapes and applications. Therefore, the mini sports car’s engine was given the development code "AS250" and the mini truck’s engine took on the code name AK250.

Kawamura, in preparation for the moment when the dummy model would be shown to Mr. Honda, had painted its body reddish orange for a highly appealing look. Upon seeing the dummy model, though, Mr. Honda announced, "The new car is definitely going to be red, but we should use a more vivid red." It was his assurance that the official development order would be forthcoming.

Kawamura, in eager response, painted the body a rich scarlet color and showed it to Mr. Honda a few days later, who liked it very much, and was obviously excited by the appearance. At that time, though, it was prohibited by law to use red or white on any auto body sold in Japan, since doing so might confuse it with an emergency vehicle such as a fire engine or ambulance. Therefore, to obtain approval for the use of red, Mitsugi Akita, then manager of the Development Management Section at Honda R&D, paid numerous visits to the Ministry of Transportation.

"Their response was cold and harsh, to be sure," recalled Akita. "The person in charge even said, ‘I know Honda, but I’ve never heard of Honda R&D." All the way back to the office I felt thoroughly depressed. I was even hesitant about seeing Mr. Honda. Days went by without any results, and Mr. Honda tried to promote his idea through the various media. At one time, he wrote a column for the Asahi Shimbun in which he said, ‘Red is the basic color of design. How can they ban it by law? I’m aware of no other industrial nation in the world in which the state monopolizes the use of colors.’"

Approval was finally granted, though, and with great excitement, Akita went to Soichiro with the news. To his surprise, however, Mr. Honda was quite calm. "Oh, that’s good," was all he said.

"It was only Honda who fought for the right to paint car bodies red," recalled Akita, "Soon, though, the other manufacturers started using it on many of their commercial vehicles."

Numerous people at Honda R&D had been mobilized in order to expedite last-minute adjustments to the car, continuing their work until the day before the Suzuka meeting. In fact, the final touch-ups were performed at the warehouse in Suzuka, and it was not until Midnight, June 4 that the cars were finally completed. The development team’s schedule had been extremely demanding, taking just four-and-a-half months.

"We relied on our youth and stamina to overcome impossible odds," Kawamura said.

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
  1. A Dream Come True: Car Builder for the WorldA Dream Come True: Car Builder for the World
  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
  2. Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973Company Leaders Honda and Fujisawa Retire; Kawashima Assumes Presidency / 1973
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
  1. People and Society Coexisting in Harmony with NaturePeople and Society Coexisting in Harmony with Nature
  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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