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1979 Honda Parts


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Keep reading to learn about Honda's history.

About Honda

Known for its sleek and fuel-efficient vehicles, with models ranging from sedans to hybrids, Honda Motor Company, Ltd., founded in 1948, is one of the world’s largest automobile and motorcycle manufacturers, with its present-day production including engines, power equipment, aircraft, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), robots, and more.

In 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists named Honda “the greenest automaker” for the 4th time in a row. This recognition came on the heels of decades of experiments and innovations in making small, efficient cars.

Early Days

Company founder Soichiro Honda worked in a garage as a young man, repairing and tuning cars for racing.

He started the company Tokai Seiki (Eastern Sea Precision Machine Company), in 1937, which produced piston rings. At the onset of World War II, Honda’s company was placed under governmental control, and Honda himself was removed as company president after Toyota acquired a 40% stake.

Honda sold what was left of the company to Toyota once the war was over, and used the proceeds to found the Honda Technical Research Institute in October 1946.

The Institute began making and selling motorized vehicles at a time when Japan’s citizens traveled mainly by bicycle. Honda implemented his idea of attaching an auxiliary engine to a bicycle.

Honda and his team added 50 cubic centimeter radio generator engines left over from the war to bicycles. When the war-surplus engines ran out, they produced their own engine for the Honda Model A, which riders started calling the “Bata Bata” because of the sound it made. Cheap and versatile, the motorbikes became quite popular.

New Vehicles and Entering the US Market

Honda introduced the T360 mini-pickup truck. The pickup had a four-cylinder engine and small chassis, which allowed it to fall under Japan’s Kei car (“light automobile”) category, making it a cheaper tax burden.

Honda’s first car followed later that year. The S500, a sports car, featured a motorcycle-inspired chain-driven rear-wheel drive.

The company’s first 4-door sedan, the 1300, was first available in 1969. The sedan had a dual grille inspired by Soichiro Honda’s Pontiac Firebird and an air-cooled engine.

Honda entered the US market in 1969 with the Honda N600. The N600 had a 45 horsepower engine and achieved 81 miles per hour.

Subsequent models, the Honda Z600 coupe and the Z600 roadster, were released. Americans were not particularly receptive to Honda. The company considered pulling out of automobile manufacturing. Honda’s fortune changed, however, with the 1970s oil crisis.

With rising fuel prices, fuel economy and efficiency became a concern. Stricter automotive emissions regulations were introduced in the US in the 1970s, with amendments to the Clean Air Act.

The Honda Civic became available and was popular in the US.

Honda developed an engine that didn’t require as much fuel. The Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC) engine provided a richer fuel-air ratio near the spark plug, a leaner mix throughout the cylinder, and reduced exhaust emissions without the use of a catalytic converter.

The CVCC engine debuted in the Honda Civic in 1975. This was the first car to meet Clean Air Act standards without the need for a catalytic converter, the lack of which kept costs down.

The car was popular among drivers seeking fuel-efficiency or ecological consciousness, and the company expanded into the US market with over 600 Honda dealerships by the mid-1970s.

In 1977, the Civic topped the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of most fuel-efficient cars at 40 miles per gallon. In 1995, the Civic was the first vehicle to meet California’s Low Emission Vehicle standards. 2012 models featured Eco Assist technology, a visual display that notified drivers how their driving style affected their fuel economy.

The CVCC engine that powered the Civic propelled the Honda Accord to success. Initially, Soichiro Honda wanted the Accord to compete in the pony car market with the likes of the Ford Mustang and his beloved Pontiac Firebird. Affordable, fuel-efficient cars were preferred though, so the Accord debuted in 1976 as a small hatchback.

The Accord sold so well in the US that Honda opened the first Japanese automobile plant in the US in Marysville, Ohio, in 1982.

The Accord became the first international best-selling car in the US, which it achieved only 7 years later. In 1997, it became the first vehicle to meet California’s Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle standards.

The Honda Prelude sports coupe followed the Accord and was in production until 2001 when it was discontinued.

Following the success of the Accord, Honda became the first Japanese automaker to enter the luxury automobile market with the Acura brand, introduced into the American market in 1986.

To differentiate the Acura brand from its Honda line, the company created a second, completely new dealer network. The brand was America's best-selling import luxury nameplate in 1987 thanks to its Integra and Legend vehicles and continues to be one of the top luxury automobile brands.

Lineup Expansion

The early 1990s were a tough period for Honda. Its founder, Soichiro Honda, passed away in 1991, and the company became outpaced by other Japanese automakers. Honda was caught off-guard by the truck and SUV boom while the company was only selling the Civic, Accord, and Prelude in North America.

These circumstances took a toll on Honda’s profitability, and Japanese media reported the company was at risk of takeover by Mitsubishi Motors.

Nobuhiko Kawamoto, Honda’s CEO in 1992, took action. Market-driven product development resulted in new recreational vehicles, such as the Honda Odyssey, and later, the Honda CR-V.

The Honda Odyssey was inspired by economic crisis. In the early 1990s, Japan faced a recession, and exporting large vehicles to the US imposed a large tariff. So Honda designed this small minivan, built on the Accord platform. The American market wanted a bigger van, so Honda introduced a larger model in 1999.

The smaller version was available in Japan, and the larger US version was marketed there as the LaGreat between 1999 and 2005.

The Odyssey has its own claim to environmental friendliness, with a production plant that was the first in the US to operate as a zero-waste-to-landfill facility.

The Honda CR-V was introduced in Japan in 1995, and in 1997 in the North American market. It was the first SUV designed in-house. After his changes helped save the company, Kawamoto retired from the company in 1998.

Honda took another step forward in its eco-innovation with the Honda Insight, the first gas-electric hybrid vehicle sold in North America, in 1999. It beat Toyota’s Prius to that mark by 7 months. The 2000 Honda Insight still ranks as the EPA’s most efficient gasoline-fueled vehicle ever, with a highway rating of 61 miles per gallon.

Hybrid vehicles weren’t associated with racing, but the OakTec racing team in England had some success with the Insight. They entered the car in the United Kingdom’s Formula 1000 rally series, for cars with engines smaller than 1000 cc. The Insight has a 995cc gas engine but also has the added benefit of its electric motor. In 2011, the Insight was so thoroughly dominating in the rankings, that Formula 1000 organizers asked the OakTec team to exit the competition.

Honda continued to expand its lineup into the new millennium. The Honda Pilot, a mid-size crossover SUV aimed primarily at the North American market, was introduced in 2002.

The Honda Element, a compact crossover SUV based on a modified CR-V platform, was introduced in 2003, lasting until 2011 when it was ultimately discontinued.

The Honda Ridgeline, a mid- to full-size sport utility truck, was released in 2005 and was Honda's first venture into the North American pickup truck market.

In 2008, the company released the Honda FCX Clarity, a hydrogen fuel cell automobile.

Since Honda proved how well a hybrid could perform, it makes sense that the company developed a sport hybrid with the Honda CR-Z. Introduced in 2010 in both Japan and the US, the CR-Z stands with a handful of Insight model years and the Civic Hybrid as the only hybrids available with a manual transmission. It is rated as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle by the state of California, with zero evaporative fuel line emissions and Super Ultra Low exhaust emissions.

The CR-Z has a 16.2-second quarter-mile time, good fuel efficiency, and won the 2010 Green Car of the Year from the British automotive television program, Top Gear, and was listed among the “Best Green Cars” of 2011 by the environmental magazine, “Mother Earth News.”

Honda Today

As far as Honda has come from the Bata Bata and air cooled Pontiac imitators, those early experiments paved the way for Honda's innovations today. Even back then, Honda focused on getting the most out of small engines and small cars. The outside-of-the-box thinking that Soichiro Honda emphasized in the early designs may not have worked right away, but it helped Honda respond to the oil crisis and morph into the leading maker of efficient and green automobiles.

Today, Honda's model lineup is extremely diverse and the brand continues to be one of the most well respected in the industry, with numerous loyal and satisfied customers across the globe.

Honda is a registered trademark of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 1A Auto is not affiliated with or sponsored by Honda or Honda Motor Co., Ltd. See all trademarks.

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