The Honda Heritage Center, Part II
D David Cordell

The Honda Heritage Center, Part II

Sep 28, 2017

Part II of the Honda Heritage Center begins with the White Uniform. I made a special note about this since it was personally the first time I have seen anyone wear this. During our time at the Heritage Center, we saw a group of college CO-OPs touring as well and they were all dressed in this uniform.

(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 **)


The Acura brand was officially born in the USA on April 1, 1984, with the first Acura models going on sale on March 27, 1986.

In 1987, the first full year of sales, Acura became America’s best-selling import luxury nameplate based on sales of the Legend and Integra models. The strategy for Acura was simple. With baby-boomer customers looking to go upscale, American Honda wanted to intercept these buyers before they left for other premium brands. While the completely new line of vehicles was in development, American Honda commissioned the NameLab company to develop a unique brand name to embody the concepts of precision and quality. Acura was the choice.

The Acura brand quickly embodied those values – by leading the J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) for four consecutive years. (1988-1992)



IMG_92231986 Acura Legend

**The Acura Legend launched the Acura brand as the first luxury automobile from a Japanese manufacturer.

The original Acura lineup also included the Integra 3- and 5-door hatchback configurations. With a 2.5 liter 151-horsepower V6 engine, the Acura Legend Sedan took on long-established European and American luxury brands such as BMW, Mercedes, Lincoln and Cadillac. A Legend Coupe debuted a year later, with a shorter wheelbase and a more powerful 161-horsepower, 2.7-liter v6 engine. The legend Coupe and Integra were named to the Car and Driver magazine list of “10Best” cars for 1987.

The Legend Coupe debuted the company’s first driver’s airbag. In 1990, the Legend Coupe also came with a unique front-passenger-side airbag that deployed upward, rather than directly at the passenger as found in competitor models at the time.


IMG_92281997 Acura CL 

**The Acura CL luxury Coupe represented a number of imported firsts for Honda North America.

It was the first of many Acura models to be designed, developed and built in America. The Acura CL also signaled a major turning point in the maturity of Honda’s U.S. product engineering capabilities. Production of the Acura CL also led to the first v6 engine produced at the Anna Engine Plant in Ohio. The Acura CL’s unique trunk lid with both longitudinal and lateral crease lines created challenges for stamping at the East Liberty Auto Plant. A close relation between associates at Honda of America Mfg. and Honda R&D Americas resulted — teamwork that would be critical to all future models developed and built in North America.

The CL sold more than 20,000 in each of its first four full years in the market. But after two generations, sales of the CL came to an end in 2003.


HART Race Car (1991 Acura NSX)

Associates at Honda of America MFG. have raced competitively over the past 25 years as the Honda of America Racing Team (HART).

Honda associates in Ohio raced this 1991 NSX in the North American Touring Car race series. Established in 1989, nearly 100 associates have been part of the HART team, which is focused both on developing a racing spirit and on advancing the skills of Honda engineers and associates under the pressure of racing. HART teams have raced Civic and Accord models as well as the Acura CL, Integra and NSX.

In 1998, the HART team was awarded the Spirit Award in the North American Touring Car series.













This HART NSX is pretty special since it was one of the last NSX’s built and raced competitively in the U.S. We were told the car is in running form although it doesn’t go outside much.




2013 ALMS Muscle Milk Race Car

In two years of American Le Mans Series (ALMS) competition, this Honda-powered ARX-03a Muscle Milk Racing car had an unmatched record of success.

Winning 14 of 20 races in the ALMS LMP1 category, the ARX-03a earned back-to-back Chassis and Engine Manufacturer’s Championships in 2012 and 2013. The 3.4-liter Honda LM-V8 race engine powering the Muscle Milk car was designed, developed and manufactured in-house by Honda Performance Development (HPD), Honda’s U.S. Racing company. HPD has earned more than 60 victories and multiple ALMS championships. In 2013, Honda swept the LMP1 and LMP2 category manufacturers’, engine, team and drivers’ championships. HPD has also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice since 2010.




An engine that every Honda fan dreams of. Honda’s AR6-LMV8. 3.4L V8 which outputs around 500hp depending on the restrictor, dry sump oiling system, 10,400rpm redline and full carbon clutch. The life span of this engine is around 3,500 miles before a rebuild is required.






I had to do a bit of research on this engine since there was no information available at the center, but this is the HPD HR12RT developed for the 2012 IRL series. This 2.2L engine hits the scale at an amazingly lightweight 250lbs which is about the total weight of a K24! Add twin turbos and a max RPM of around 12,000 and you get a power plant that can produce up to 700hp. This engine powered Indy cars in the 2012 season which netted Honda four first place finishes.







Certainly one of the weirdest things in the building was this 2005 Honda Odyssey minivan, spec’d out in racing trim. This thing has custom suspension and brakes as well as a full set of 19 inch BBS wheels. The interior has been fully gutted, and a multi-point roll cage was installed to keep this metal box from bending like a drinking straw while cornering. The engine has also been upgraded to output around 285hp. It certainly wouldn’t be our first choice, but it just goes to show you how dedicated Honda is at racing… even if they have to race a minivan.


Right about the time I was taking pictures of the Honda uniform, one of the center’s curators fired up this brand new 2017 Acura NSX that was sitting quietly in the showroom. I’m not sure why he fired it up, but I assume it was to show some of the co-ops that were hanging around before their meeting. He said the car is fully operational although it is a pre-production version and wouldn’t be sold. This is similar to the NSX we got to go for a spin in later in the day… what an epic car.








Mounted on the wall behind this NSX is a hood from a new car signed by the assembly team in Ohio. Reminds me of when we got visitors to sign the hood and top of our Del Sol show car at the 2008 Import Alliance event. haha!



Wrapping up the coverage of the center, I took a few images of some design concepts that were on display.

Acura Sedan Design Study

**Most concept cars are never seen outside the walls of Honda R&D Americas’ Califonia design studios. This never-before-seen concept, the Acura Sedan Design Study, was created by stylists at the Acura Design Studio in early 2011 to set the direction for future Acura luxury performance sedans. The Acura Sedan Design Study exterior styling pursued a modern design with classic luxury sedan proportions – low and wide, with a longer dash-to-axle ratio (the distance between the leading edge of the dash and front axle). The styling is accented by ceramic-type headlights and chrome trim that runs the length of the body, finishing as rear taillights. A customizable interior was designed to achieve a new HMI (human-machine interface) experience with an elegant and intuitive layout, a three-dimensional meter design and a navigation system where the user will feel immersed in the decision-making.

With the Acura Sedan Design Study, the styling team created a road map for Acura design – a direction that has since been eclipsed by further styling concepts that will lead to future Acura luxury sedans.


Ridgeline Scale Model 

Honda surprised the industry with a pickup truck that offered the industry’s first in-bed storage trunk.

**This scale model of the Honda Ridgeline was used as the styling model for the Ridgeline that debuted at the North American International Auto Show on January 10, 2005. Honda engineers at the Ohio R&D Center leveraged their previous experience in developing the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX to create a Honda pickup truck with a fully boxed, unitized body structure to deliver more car-like ride and handling. Ridgeline offered a larger cabin, while delivering true half-ton-pickup hauling and towing capabilities. In 2006, the Ridgeline debuted to critical acclaim and was named both North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend Truck of the Year.


Element Scale Model

**This Element scale model is one of several ideas conceived by Honda R&D Americas in California to expand upon the original Honda Element.

Called Studio E, a full-size show model debuted at the January 2003 North American International Auto Show. Developed at the company’s Ohio Center, the production version of the Element that went on sale in 2002 broke new ground in several ways. Honda engineers and stylists conducted research at the beach, the X Games and in college fraternity houses in an effort to capture young buyers who devoted their free time to outdoor activities. The upright and boxy incorporated an array of innovative design features, including center-opening side doors, stow-away rear seats and a flat floor made of wipeable material.

Changing market conditions led to the discontinuation of the Element in 2011.


Honda’s white uniform serves several purposes:


The uniform was designed with the buttons hidden beneath the cloth to prevent the product from being scratched during production.


Symbolizing Honda’s “One Team” concept, the uniform demonstrates that the ideas of all associates are valued and the importance of listening to associates “at the spot” on the factory floor.


The white uniform emphasizes cleanliness in the plant and calls attention to anything that might indicate a non-conforming work process.


That wraps up my coverage of the Honda Heritage Center! I had the opportunity to visit the Honda Collection Hall in Japan a few years ago and while that is a collection of worldwide Honda stuff, this place focuses on American Honda. My passion for the Honda brand comes from years of research into the workings of the Japanese company, their products, and passion for racing. It’s nice to see that they are committed to employing thousands of Americans and strive to succeed in the American market.

Now we wait for the first Civic Type R! Let’s see how Honda has meshed many different departments together to bring that product to the fans in America!

Next up, our coverage of the SCCA Runoffs at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course!

-David C


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