Nestled in the hills of Tochigi, Japan is a gem hidden among the tall forest trees. As part of the Turbo Tokyo Auto Salon Tour we took an excursion three hours from urban Shinagawa, Tokyo, prefecture to a vastly different landscape. Tall buildings gave way to farms and small villages. Packed expressways turned into small winding roads. At the end of this trek we reached our destination, the Twin Ring Motegi racetrack, home to the Honda Collection Hall. Never in a million years would I have guessed that the world's largest Honda museum is tucked away into the rural outskirts of Japan.
This three-story museum is a walk through time. You learn the complete history of how Honda as we know it was created by one man, founder Soichiro Honda. The Collection Hall was established in 1998 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Honda. The hall exhibits every model Honda has ever made, from the first bicycle to F1 race cars. All vehicles have been restored to original condition and most are not roped off; you can get right up close to appreciate the details and interior aspects. There is even a restoration room where you can see how the technicians complete the process as it happens.
It was a toss up as to which we liked better, the floor dedicated to the old factory Hondas or the floor displaying their race cars. The S500 and N360 hold a special place in our hearts as they won hands down against their Datsun Roadster and Mini Cooper rivals. And I swear if I could ever buy a T360 truck whose bed is just big enough to fit an engine, I'd be the happiest mechanic on the planet. As for the competition vehicles, I was squealing like a girl, all excited at seeing up close and in person Honda's historic race cars from the 1960s through 2000.
For all of you Honda-heads, this museum is well worth the drive from Tokyo if you ever visit Japan (which is easy enough, come on the Turbo TAS tour next year). In fact, the collectibles for sale in the museum shop alone will leave you satisfied, albeit poorer. I'll leave you with a quote from Mr. Honda himself: "Products don't lie. If a product is really good, it will succeed ... Our products speak the truth about Honda."