Heritage

Honda's journey to selling 400 million motorcycles started with a Dream in 1949

Workers manufacture motorcycles in a Japanese Honda factory.

Photo by Getty Images

Honda kicked off production of the Dream D-Type motorcycle in 1949, marking the brand's first foray into commercial motorcycle production. Seventy years later, the company has made its 400 millionth.

"For 70 years, Honda has provided to customers worldwide motorcycles that make life easier and enjoyable," said Takahiro Hachigo, Chief Executive Officer, Honda Motor Co., Ltd. "As a result, we have achieved our 400 million-unit milestone. I am grateful to all of our customers, and everyone involved in development, manufacturing, sales and service of our products. We will continue to do our best to provide attractive products that meet the needs and dreams of our customers worldwide."

Honda Super Cub The Honda Super Cub is the most important motorcycle in Honda's history, selling more than 100 million nationwide since its debut.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Sometimes known as the Type D or Model D, the Dream D-Type was the first in a series of Dream motorcycles that Honda made in its early years. The bike featured an air-cooled two-stroke single-cylinder engine with 98 cc displacement and three horsepower.

Honda unveiled the D-Type's successor, the E-Type, in 1951 and began exporting motorcycles from Japan in 1952. That same decade, in 1958, Honda released its first Super Cub, the Super Cub C100.

The Super Cub is Honda's most successful motorcycle. Its numerous variants accounted for over 60 million total sales by 2008, 87 million by 2014, and 100 million by 2017. It is now the most produced motor vehicle in history.

Honda first entered the motorcycle Grand Prix racing stage in 1959. This decade also the beginning of the production of purpose-built Honda motorcycles for racing that carried the "RC" label. Honda Racing Corporation would eventually form in 1982 and carry on the naming tradition.

1964 Isle of Man TT races British born Rhodesian racing motorcyclist Jim Redman riding a Honda to victory in the Lightweight 250cc event at the Isle of Man TT races, 9th June 1964. Photo by Getty Images

As a way to show the difference between the negative stereotypes that were pervasive in U.S. culture surrounding motorcyclists, Grey Advertising created the slogan "You meet the nicest people on a Honda." The campaign was a resounding success and is still considered a case study in good advertising strategy.

With demand on the rise, Honda expanded production opening a facility in Belgium in 1963 and one in Thailand in 1967. By 1968, the company reached 10 million cumulative motorcycles produced.

Expansion continued with production expanding to Indonesia in 1971 and Italy and Brazil in 1976. It wasn't until 1979 that Honda began producing motorcycles in North America.

Isle of Man Formula One TT 1996 Joey Dunlop of Great Britain and rider of the #3 Honda Britain Honda RC45 chases Shaun Harris on the #1 Britten V1000 during the International Isle of Man Formula One TT (Tourist Trophy) Race on 5 June 1996, Douglas on the Isle of Man, United Kingdom. Photo by Getty Images

Honda continued to have success in the world market though there are mixed opinions regarding the company's lack of competition in the higher-powered motorcycle market in the U.S. Some theorized that it was poor planning on behalf of Honda while others say that it was never Honda's intent to compete.

Honda of America began producing motorcycle engines in Ohio in 1985.

In 1987, as Honda reached the 50 million mark in total motorcycle production in Japan, the company also celebrated the beginning of motorcycle and auto part production at Honda de Mexico. This is the same year that Honda first included an air bag in a car, the Acura Legend.

1992 marked the year that Honda first produced the Honda NR, the first motorcycle that was sold with oval pistons. The shape of the pistons allowed for eight valves per cylinder, generating more power than other setups.

Honda's Marysville, Ohio, Motorcycle Plant produced its 1 millionth vehicle in 1996, a Gold Wing Aspencade.

This City Slicker Super Cub built by Steady Garage for SEMA in 2019 sports chopped and shortened front and rear fenders with a retrofitted front suspension, custom hubs, and a custom two-tone green and off-white paint job.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Motorcyclist magazine named the Honda Interceptor its "Motorcycle of the Year" in 1998. The Interceptor was a notable model because it brought much of the technology of a Honda motorcycle only previously seen on the race track to the street.

Additional production capacity for motorcycles was added with plants in China and Vietnam in the 90s and India in 2001. Bangladesh's Honda factory opened in 2013.

In 2017 India became Honda's largest motorcycle market and the next year the company exceeded 20 million annual motorcycle units produced for the first time.

In 1997, Honda produced its 100 millionth motorcycle, Just 11 years later the company celebrated its 200 millionth and seven years after that the company was at 300 million. Now, just five years later, that total has grown to 400 million.

Honda currently produces a wide range of motorcycles, from 50cc commuters to 1,800cc models, at 35 facilities in 21 countries.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Photo courtesy of Classic Car Auctions

Next weekend, Classic Car Auctions (CCA) will auction off a collection of cars from the early 20th Century. Part of The Warwickshire Collection Part II, the models span a range of decades and marques. Earlier this year, Silverstone Auctions successfully sold The Warwickshire Collection Part I.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to offer these 89 rare and collectable cars," said Gary Dunne, CCA's Sales Manager. "The Warwickshire Collection features some really interesting examples and furthermore, a proportion of the cars are offered without reserve, so this collection is not to be missed".

Below are four of the 89 models, with descriptions provided by CCA.

1949 Bentley MkVI

One of the stand outs is the 1949 Bentley MkVI two-door Coupe with "New Look" bodywork by James Young (as seen at the top of this article) which is estimated at £40,000 - £50,000. At the time, the design was somewhat polarising and just three were ordered, however, hindsight tells us that the appearance of the "New Look" has since influenced the design of many luxury cars since. Finished in Silver with Tudor Grey over a red leather interior, this is an important car in Bentley's history.

1961 Morris Minor Million

Photo courtesy of Classic Car Auctions

Another special car in the collection is the Lilac 1961 Morris Minor Million, which is one of 349 examples made to celebrate the production of one million Morris Minors. CCA are offering number 21, which features its special choice of colour, white leather seats trimmed with black, wheel trim embellishers and the Morris 1,000,000 badging on the rear. MA2S31000021 is estimated at £15,000 – 20,000

1932 BSA "Family Four" Vee Twin Three-Wheeler

Photo courtesy of Classic Car Auctions

One of the oldest cars in the collection is the 1932 BSA 'Family Four' Vee Twin Three-Wheeler which benefitted from a bare metal restoration in 2009 and has since travelled just a small amount of miles. The restoration retained an extensive list of all the major components that were original to the car including the engine and chassis. The body was completely rebuilt using new ash framework as required, although 40% of it is original and the car is estimated at £8,000 - £10,000.

1953 Ford Consul Mk1 Farnham Estate

Photo courtesy of Classic Car Auctions

The last of four cars to be previewed from the 89-strong collection is the 1953 Ford Consul Mk1 Farnham Estate. This example is a well-known show car and is fresh from the British Motor Museum in Gaydon. Finished in Dorchester Grey, it is fitted with an exterior sun visor, chrome luggage rack, driving lamps, badge bar and signpost light and is estimated at £7,000 - £9,000.

For this auction, the buyers premium is 11% + VAT and bidding is available online with either The Saleroom or Proxibid, on the telephone or via a commission (pre) bid. The auction takes place on September 18 and 19.

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The Lamborghini Aventador S by Skyler Grey is one chapter in the nine-year Aventador story.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

The Lamborghini Aventador story stretches from 2011 to today, encompassing 10,000 models. The super luxury Italian automaker celebrated the landmark V12 model crossing the end of the production line this week in Sant'Agata Bolognese.

Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

The Aventador debuted in 2011 as a coupe, known as the Aventador LP 700-4. It had a carbon fiber monocoque produced in the Sant'Agata Bolognese factory combining the cockpit, floor, and roof of the car in a single structure improving structural rigidity. A new high-performance V12 engine was developed exclusively for the car. It reached 700 horsepower and sent a quickness benchmark getting from zero to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds and had a top speed of 217 mph.

The roadster version of the Aventador debuted in November 2012. The roof is comprised of two sections and made almost entirely of carbon fiber. Each section of the roof weighs less than 13 pounds.

Lamborghini Aventador J

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

At the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the Aventador J (as seen above) was revealed, showing an "open" super sports car with the exterior and interior combining into one structure. The roof and windscreen were gone. It was designed to travel at speeds over 186 mph.

Lamborghini Aventador Miura Homage

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

In 2016, the Aventador Miura Homage (as seen above) bowed as a special series coupe that paid homage to the Miura, the forerunner to Lamborghini's V12 super cars, and celebrated that model's 50th anniversary.

A new Lamborghini Aventador S was introduced later that year featuring a new exterior, revised suspension, additional power, and a thorough reworking of the company's driving dynamics. The "S" denotes enhanced versions of pre-existing Lamborghini models. Its 6.5-liter V12 delivered 40 horsepower more than the original and offered a new Ego driving mode, which offered customization of various drive dynamics and throttle settings.

Lamborghini Aventador  SVJ

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

The Aventador SVJ (as seen above) was offered starting in 2018. "SV", as per tradition, stands for Superveloce, and the "J" stands for "Jota", which denotes the car's superiority on the track and in terms of performance. The car held the lap record at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife track and was limited to 900 units.

The SVJ 63, a special edition with a unique setup that features an extensive use of carbon fiber, was produced in only 63 examples to pay tribute to the year Automobili Lamborghini was founded: 1963.

Lamborghini Aventador S by Skyler Grey

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

A one-off model, the Aventador S by Skyler Grey (as seen above), was unveiled last year, fusing together the concept of street art with the design of the Aventador. Artist Skyler Grey used the main techniques of street art – airbrushing, spray guns, rollers and stencils – to personalize the car body in his typical Pop style in orange and yellow. The car was painted in three weeks in Lamborghini's new paint shop.

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Chassis 10,000

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

Chassis number 10,000 is an Aventador SVJ Roadster (as seen above) that wears a Grigio Acheso (grey) paint job and Rosso Mimir (red) livery and Ad Personam interior in Rosso Alala (red) and black. The car is destined for the Thai market.

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