A few weeks ago, we received an invitation from some friends at Honda to visit them at their facility in Marysville, Ohio. While we were in town, we had some time to visit the Honda Heritage Center near the main manufacturing plant. This center is a collection of important vehicles in Honda’s history as well as a reminder of how significant it is for Honda to build a plant like this in America. Honda shares their story in America through cars and technology on display as well as original marketing advertisements, newspaper articles, and internal reports.
I tend to write these posts with lots of information so take some time and read along if you’re interested in the story of Honda in America. (full disclosure, I photographed of many of the display plaques posted around many of the things in this center. Instead of posting images of those boards, I’ll include the text under them when possible. This information will be noted with a **)
As soon as you walk into the center, you can see a large map on the wall showing many of the Honda & Acura locations across North America. From Powersports dealers to finance companies, Honda continues to commit time and resources to serve their customers.
Greeting you as you walk in is a brand new 2016 Honda Civic Sedan. The 10th generation Civic is a genuinely important car as it displays the first time a turbo engine is available in the Civic family in America.
I can’t say I know much about motorcycles, so it was interesting to learn that in addition to building cars Honda has also built a variety of bikes at their Motorcycle Plant in Ohio.
This display shows the first GL1100 motorcycle to roll off the assembly plant in 1982.
One of the most popular bikes built in Ohio is the Honda Goldwing.
The 1980 Honda Elsinore CR250R was on display.
**The Elsinore was not originally intended to be the first motorcycle built by Honda of America Mfg., but the top-of-the-line Gold Wing was considered too complex for an all new plant and a new team of associates. This 1980 Elsinore was the last of Honda’s air-cooled two-stroke CR250R models, with it 247cc reed-valve-inducted engine. It also signaled a major shift in fuel tank construction for motorcross bikes; plastic replaced aluminum, with a dry weight of just 218.3 pounds. A factory-style double-cradle frame functioned in concert with the center-port exhaust, and the air-assisted for yielded 11.8 inches of travel, excellent for off-road riding.
In September 1979, the Elsinore became the first Honda product to roll off its U.S. assembly line at the Marysville Motorcycle Plant.
You can see the first few and most significant motorcycles on display in the lobby area.
If you are a Honda enthusiast like me, you’ll know exactly what this is. This 1971 Honda N600 has been completely restored and looks as good as it did the day it rolled off the assembly line. If you have never seen one of these things in person, they are super small!
**The first Honda automobile sold in America in 1970, the N600 was conceived as a model for the Japanese market. Based on Honda’s first decade in America as a motorcycle company, some observers described the N600 as “two motorcycles strapped together,” but the N600 was Honda’s first step into the U.S. automobile industry and helped the company begin automobile sales with a network of 58 dealers. Honda sold just more than 34,000 of the little N600 from 1970 to 1972.
**Technologically advanced for its time, the N600 featured rack and pinion steering and an aluminum alloy engine with an overhead camshaft. The lightweight N600 delivered surprisingly peppy performance with a top speed of 80 miles per hour and fuel economy of almost 32 miles per gallon.
Honda Celebrates Accord’s 40th Anniversary!
Honda Accord History & Timeline
Moving towards the other side of the Heritage Center Honda has aligned four brand new Accords starting with the second generation. I’m not sure why they didn’t have a first generation car here, presumably because that car wasn’t produced in the plant here. The first generation Accord was produced in Japan until 1982.
First Generation: 1976-1981
1971: Honda introduced in America available as a two-door hatchback 93.7-inch wheelbase; weighing 2,000lbs
Cutting edge powertrain / All-aluminum cylinder head / 1.6L CVCC 4cyl with 68hp / 5-speed manual trans / FWD
More than 18,000 cars sold in 1976 with a suggested retail price of $3,995
1978: The upscale LX version appears for the first time
1979: The four-door sedan is introduced along with a slightly more powerful 1.8L engine & power steering
1981: A Special Edition is released with leather interior, alloy wheels, power windows and a sound system complete with a cassette deck.
Second Generation: 1982-1985 (pictured above)
1982: On November 1, the Honda Accord becomes the first car from a Japanese manufacturer to be produced in the U.S.; when production begins at Honda’s Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio. A longer wheelbase and restyled, larger body presents a more upscale look. Car and Driver magazine names the Honda Accord to its list of 10Best cars for the very first time in 1982.
1983: Improved EPA-rated city/highway fuel economy of 29/40 miles per gallon
1984: Engine size increases from 1751cc to 1830cc raising engine output to 86hp.
1985: Fuel injection debuts on the Accord SEL bringing the total output to 101hp.
Third Generation: 1986-1989
1986: The third generation Accord launches with five versions. (DX hatchback, DX sedan, LX sedan, LXi Hatchback, LXi Sedan) A low, sleek and distinctive exterior design and retractable headlights convey a sporty demeanor. Larger in every dimension and more sophisticated underneath, this Accord is the first front-wheel drive car to utilize a racecar-inspired double wishbone suspension design at the front and rear wheels. The wheelbase grows 5.9 inches to 102.4 as the length increases by 3.1 inches to 178.5. A larger 2.0L engine produces 98hp with carburetion & 110hp with fuel injection. A new coupe version is a major addition to the Accord lineup. The first product designed by Honda R&D Americas, Inc., produced exclusively at the Marysville Auto Plant.
1987: American Honda exports the first U.S.-made vehicle, an Accord Sedan, to Taiwan.
1988: Honda begins the export of U.S. automobiles to Japan with the Accord Coupe.
1989: The Honda Accord becomes the top-selling car in the U.S. for the first time.
Fourth Generation: 1990-1994 (pictured above)
1990: The Honda Accord wheel base grew from 102.4 inches to 107.1. A new 2.2L engine with 16 valves was introduced to replace the older 2.0l 12 valve engine. Electronic fuel injection was standard. Trim levels were updates to include the EX model
1991: The Accord SE model returns with leather interior upgrades and a standard 4×20 watt audio system.
1992: The SE model is canceled. Motorized seat belts are replaced with standard driverside airbag and conventional shoulder seatbelt arrangement. Anti-lock brakes became standard equipment on the EX trim. EX trim also gained a radio anti-theft system.
1993: The Accord 10th Anniversary Edition was offered to commemorate the 10th year of U.S. production in Ohio. 15 inch alloy wheels, ABS, body colored side moldings, chin spoiler and automatic transmission were standard. The SE trim returned in Coupe and Sedan form.
Fifth Generation: 1993-1997
1994: The fifth generation Accord released in 1993 was the largest Accord to date. Growing in wheelbase and overall length, it was designed specifically for the U.S. market.
1995: For the first time, a 2.7L V6 engine was optional.
1997: Reshaped bumpers and front fascia are changed. The SE trim is offered with leather seats, CD player and keyless entry.
Sixth Generation: 1998-2002 (pictured above)
1998: Accord is offered in both coupe and sedan forms, the wagon style is discontinued. For the first time, the coupe is offered with an exclusive front fascia. Cabin air filters are installed as standard equipment. Ignition keys are equipped with immobilizer microchips, and foldable mirrors became an option.
2000: Both Sedan and coupe models received style revisions. The LX trim comes standard with a CD player.
2002: Further improvements relating to the suspension and safety systems are implemented.
Seventh Generation: 2003-2007 (pictured above)
2003: A larger and more powerful 160hp 2.4L DOHC i-VTEC engine is introduced and available with either a 5-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. A 240hp 3.0L VTEC V6 engine is introduced. The Accord Coupe comes with a 6-speed manual transmission for the first time. Honda introduced a new rapid-and wide deploying side curtain air bag technology that protects both front and rear passengers-the all-new Accord is the first model to receive this technology.
2004: V6 Accord Hybrid is introduced in the U.S. as the company’s third hybrid model. The Accord EX becomes the 10-millionth automobile produced by Honda in Ohio.
2005: Accord Hybrid is powered by a 3.0L i-VTEC V6 with variable Cylinder Management (VCM) and Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrid technology.
2006: Accord receives a facelift with new and rear styling and various changes to the entire lineup.
Eight Generation: 2008-2012
2008: Accord innovated with new levels of standard safety equipment, including Honda’s revolutionary Advanced Compatibility Engineering “ACE” body structure and Accords first 100-percent application of Vehicle Stability Assist.
2009: Honda Manufacturing of Alabama starts production of the Accord after eight years of making light trucks
2012: Accord earns the highest possible score of GOOD in all four crash test modes by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS.) Honda introduces Accord Coupe Concept at the North American International Auto Show, announcing plans to apply new powertrain technology and new safety features, including Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Warning to the ninth generation Accord lineup.
25 years after the start of U.S. auto exports, the Marysville Auto Plant builds the 1-millionth Honda automobile for export from the U.S.- a 2013 Accord EX-L sedan headed to South Korea.
Ninth Generation: 2013-Present
2013: The 2013 Accord Sedan and Accord Coupe mark the beginning of the ninth-generation Accord lineup-more luxurious, more sophisticated, better performing and better equipped than any other model in Accord’s history. Features the first application of Honda direct injection engine technology in America.
2014: On March 20, the 10-millionth Accord built in North America rolls off the assembly line at the Marysville Auto Plant. The Accord Hybrid is the first Honda hybrid vehicle produced in Ohio and the second Honda hybrid built in the U.S.
2016: Honda introduces a refreshed Accord as one of the first high-volume cars to feature both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as the addition of Honda Sensing advanced safety and driver-assistive technology. Accord is the best-selling car in America with individual, retail car buyers for the third straight year.
**What has not changed since the Accord launches is how it embodies the same fundamental values of dependability, quality, reliability and a fun driving experience. Accord is America’s best-selling car and the most popular car in America for the last 40 years. Millennials choose Accord more than any other car in its segment. An Accord is sold on average of every 2 minutes for the past 40 years. Since 1982, more than 10.7 million Accords are produced in the U.S. American car buyers have purchased more than 12.7 million Accords. The Accord is named to the prestigious Automobile Magazine `All-Star` list, the 190th time a Honda vehicle is named since the awards inception in 1990 and the second consecutive `All-Star` designation for the Accord.
For a record 30th time in the 32-year history of the award, Car and Driver magazine names the Accord to its prestigious annual list of the 10Best Cars in America.
Moving away from the Honda Accord section, we walk into the main room where there is a collection of engines, prototypes, racing cars, racing engines and others pieces of Honda’s innovative history.
The Hands That Created History
**Honda founder Soichiro Honda made these handprints on his last visit to Ohio in 1989. Born in 1906, Mr. Honda founded the Honda Motor Co., Ltd. in Japan in 1948. He passed away in 1992, two years after he became the first representative of a Japanese automaker inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in Detroit, Michigan.
1975 CVCC Engine & Transmission
This CVCC (Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion) engine made the 1975 Honda Civic the first automobile to meet the stringent 1970 U.S. Clean Air Act standards and without a catalytic converter. Using lean combustion, the CVCC has normal intake and exhaust valves. A small auxiliary intake valve provides for a relatively rich air-fuel mixture near the spark plug. The remaining air-fuel charge is leaner than normal. The allows for a more complete combustion of fuel, reducing toxic exhaust emissions. It also made Civic No.1 in EPA-rated fuel economy.
Most Honda engines begin as aluminum ingot like this – or as aluminum recycled from within the Anna Engine Plant in Ohio, Honda’s largest automobile engine plant in the world. The ingot is melted in a furnace on-site and formed into various components such as engine blocks and cylinder heads. They are then milled and machined to exacting tolerances, and then assembled into engines for vehicles made in Ohio and Indiana. Honda also has auto engine operations in Alabama, Canada, and Mexico.
Sand Mold (for cylinder head)
**Sand casting involves pouring molten steel or aluminum into a pre-shaped mold made of a mixture of sand and clay. This mold is for the production of an aluminum cylinder head. Once the material has cooled, the part is removed from the mold and passed through a series of milling and machining processes to produce a finished part. Sand from used molds is reused in the plant or recycled for use in landscaping or other applications.
Aluminum Engine Block (inline 4-Cylinder)
**This is a 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine block produced at the Anna Engine Plant in Ohio for the Honda Accord. (K24!!) Virtually all Honda engine blocks are made of aluminum. The block undergoes a 330-step million and machining process to take it from its original die-cast form to finished product. The block weighs just 61.4 pounds, while a fully assembled 4-cylinder Honda engine of this displacement weighs about 520 pounds. The Anna Engine Plant produces roughly 4,800 engines per day.
A Honda CVCC in the famous orange color and hounds-tooth interior. Classic!
More advertisements from the later 1970s. It’s really interesting to see what automotive marketing was like back then.
1996 Civic 1.6L VTEC (engine and transmission)
In the early, 1990s, Honda began introducing its legendary VTEC (Variable Valve Timing Electronically Controlled) engine technology, a foundational Honda engine technology that varies both valve timing and valve lift to achieve high performance, fuel efficiency, and low emissions. The Anna Engine Plant began producing VTEC engines in the early 1990s. This 1.6 Liter 4-cylinder engine powered the sixth generation 1996 Civic.
2014 L4 Accord (engine and transmission)
With the introduction of the ninth-generation 2013 Accord, Honda began the rollout of its new Earth Dreams Technology powertrain series, including this 2.4 liter, direct-injected inline 4-cylinder engine and Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). This engine-transmission combination delivered 4 percent more horsepower, 14 percent greater torque and 11 percent higher EPA highway fuel-economy compared with the previous model.
Japanese model right hand drive Accord, built in the U.S.
**This banner was used to help market the Ohio-made Accord Wagon and Accord Coupe at Honda dealerships in Japan. The eagle symbolized “American made” to Japanese customers. The wagon and coupe models of Accord were built exclusively in Ohio.
The RHD versions of the Accord Wagons were exported to Japan and then many of them were then imported back to the U.S. for postal deliveries.
1987 CRX Si
**The CRX began as the “50M” project, an original Honda car for America that could achieve fuel economy of 50 miles per gallon.
**Conceived by sales executives at American Honda, the CRX debuted as a 1984 model. The styling direction came from a design that had been created by a U.S. design team for the third-generation Civic that would debut in 1984. The original design was dubbed “Civic Renaissance,” which led to “Civic Renaissance Experimental” or CRX. Ultimately, the 1.3 liter CRX-HF (HF for high fuel economy) achieved an amazing 51 mpg city and 67 mpg highway EPA rating. During development, a sporty version of the CRX was created with a 1.5 liter engine. Known as the “pocket rocket,” this performance-oriented CRX Si fueled the import tuner movement among young enthusiasts and played a huge role in the CRX being named the 1984 Import Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine.
**The Civic Renaissance design from Honda R&D Americas led directly to the CRX, as well as the “long roof” design of the third-generation Civic.
Thanks for reading along, I hope you’ve gained some insight on how significant the Honda brand is and what it means to so many people across the world. It’s amazing to see how many of Honda’s greatest cars were designed and built in America.
Part II coming up soon!