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15 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Honda

Aaron Bonk
Aug 27, 2013

1. In 1984, Honda developed a Mugen-outfitted CRX to help gauge American interest in the fledgling Japanese tuning company. Believe it or not, U.S. consumers had almost no interest in the Japanese parts firm prior to its Formula One involvement and, as such, plans to make Mugen products available stateside at American Honda dealerships—much like Toyota’s later TRD line—were shelved.

Htup_0509_07+1991_honda_crx+mugen_wing Photo 2/4   |   Htup 0509 07+1991 Honda Crx+Mugen Wing

2. Years before the first nine-second pass or 200-plus-mph land-speed run, Bob “Honda Bob” Boileau’s championship-winning, 146-mph 1974 SCCA Civic held the title of the world’s fastest Honda throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s.

3. Honda became the sole engine supplier to the IndyCar series in 2006, at which time the first Indianapolis 500 ever without a single engine problem took place.

4. Honda’s racing roots run deep: Formula One, CART, Indy Racing League, IndyCar Series, touring car, sports car, motocross, and motorcycle. It wasn’t until 1965, though, when Formula One driver Richi Ginther won the Mexican Grand Prix for Honda, that the company’s stereotype of only being able to win races on two wheels was broken.

5. The 1960s American surf rock band The Hondells was an homage to the up-and-coming small carmaker, Honda. Its hit song, “Little Honda,” which was written by members of The Beach Boys, went on to hit the Top 10 in 1964 and, to this day, remains the only Honda-derived rock band to speak of.

Htup_0910_01+1965_honda_s600_roadster+rear Photo 3/4   |   Htup 0910 01+1965 Honda S600 Roadster+Rear

6. Honda’s first production car was the S500 sports car, of which only 136 were built. It was based off of a 531cc four-cylinder engine that featured a very motorcycle-like chain-driven RWD architecture.

7. In 1937, later Honda Motor Company founder Soichiro Honda established a small manufacturing company, supplying piston rings to none other than Toyota. Following World War II, the company closed its door, at which time Honda formed the Honda Technical Research Institute where he began experimenting with small internal-combustion engines, mounting them to bicycles.

Top honda features honda nsx r replica hoodscoop 03 Photo 4/4   |   Top Honda Features Honda Nsx R Replica Hoodscoop 03

8. By most accounts the all-but-fabled NSX-R GT, of which only five were built and all of whose owners have yet to surface, is a ruse. The existence of the high-end, special-edition NSX that was allegedly built to comply with Super GT race car homologation requirements and sold for as high as $500,000 has been repeatedly denied by Honda personnel, yet the lore lives on.

9. According to late-’90s Acura press releases, only 49 Alex Zanardi–edition NSXs were ever produced—all for the 1999 model year. Unless you count the lone press car that somehow got overlooked when tallying up the limited-edition car’s actual production run, making the grand total 50.

10. You can thank the second-generation ’83–’87 Prelude—not the ’88–’91 Civic—for Honda’s infamous double-wishbone suspension.

11. The first Honda car was actually a Ford. In 1928, future company founder Soichiro Honda fitted a Curtiss-Wright V-8 aircraft engine to the American automaker’s chassis, setting the Japanese speed record of 75 mph while he was at it.

12. Somewhere in Torrance, California, lies a secret Honda museum outfitted with 51 of the company’s most memorable cars. Despite its direct affiliation with American Honda Motor Company, some of the vehicles were sourced not from the company’s own archives but from the open market, and sellers like you.

13. In 1962, Honda manufactured a small, four-stroke engine no larger than a soccer ball that you couldn’t buy and that wasn’t strapped to any sort of motorcycle. Known as the Cuby, the engine was used by American Honda service staff for small engine motorcycle vocational training. Cuby engines were first used at Japan’s Tama Tech Center where they were disassembled and reassembled in an effort to teach children the inner workings of the internal-combustion process. Later, roughly 800 were made available to U.S. dealerships for $15 each.

14. In late 1985, the Legend and Integra launched Honda’s all-new luxury car brand. Code-named Channel Two—before the Acura name was decided upon—early Legends and Integras didn’t even feature Acura’s iconic caliper emblem, of which two versions exist.

15. Only 340 of Honda’s first-ever battery-electric vehicle, the ’97–’99 EV Plus, were ever made. The EV Plus proved to be an engineering test bed for the manufacturer and, interestingly enough, was recycled and used as a development chassis for what would later become the first FCX fuel-cell vehicle.

By Aaron Bonk
405 Articles

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