In 1937 Soichiro Honda founded a manufacturing company to produce piston rings for Toyota, but during WWII one of Honda’s factories was bombed and the other collapsed in an earthquake in 1945. He sold off salvageable parts and machinery directly to Toyota and used the funds he received to start the Honda Technical Research Institute in 1946. Here he and his team developed a motorized bike moved by Honda’s first mass produced engine. In the wake of the bike’s success Honda founded and incorporated Honda Motor Company on this day in 1948.
Honda Motor Company would achieve international fame with the production of its Super Cub motorcycle in the 1960s, as it became one of the world’s best selling vehicles at the time. The following decade, in 1973, the introduction of the Honda Civic would secure Honda’s place in the automotive industry, as the vehicle was popular around the world at a time when fuel economy was becoming increasingly important.
Honda was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1989 and passed away two years later at the age of 84.
Cover image: Soichiro Honda with Honda race car, via Honda.com