Honda celebrates 50 years in America

As of 2009, Honda of America is now 50 years old. The company began its golden jubilee celebrations earlier this year with a special float in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena. That was followed by a little ceremony at the company’s headquarters in Torrance, California this month, commemorating Honda’s involvement in five different areas, namely cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, power equipment, and racing.

On June 11, 1959, American Honda Motor Co, Inc. was incorporated as the first overseas subsidiary of Honda Motor Company, just eleven years after the company’s inception as a small motorcycle manufacturer in Japan. A handful of associates led by 39-year-old Kihachiro Kawashima began signing up U.S. motorcycle dealers, working out of a small storefront office at 4077 Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. The Honda 50 (Super Cub), Dream and Benly motorcycles were the first Honda products sold in the U.S. First-year sales amounted to just over 1,700 units.

After many years of selling motorcycles, Honda started selling the N600 sedan, their first automobile, in 1969. However, it really came to power during the oil crisis of the 1970s, when it started offering the ultra-efficient Civic from 1973.

By 1985, Honda R&D Americas opened its Ohio Center for new vehicle development. The facility and its engineers went on to develop some of the company’s first original SUV products, including two generations of the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX SUVs, the Element lifestyle SUV, and the Ridgeline pickup. The Honda CR-V crossover also went from strength to strength since its debut in the late 90s, becoming the top-selling SUV in America in its latest iteration, while the Acura RDX was introduced recently to compete in the entry-level luxury segment.

Unsurprisingly, Honda utilized Chevrolet 3100 Apache trucks in their early days, as seen in front of their first office.

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