Soichiro Honda began by manufacturing piston rings in November 1937. He quickly became a sub-contractor to Toyota.  Honda then expanded into other engine parts and even air-screws.  On September 24, 1948, Soichiro Honda took advantage of a gap in the Japanese market.  Decimated by World War II, Japan was starved of money and fuel, but still in need of basic transport.  Honda, utilizing his manufacturing facilities, attached an engine to a bicycle, creating the cheap and efficient transport that was required.
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Honda quickly began to produce a range of scooters and motorcycles. By the late 1960s, Honda had conquered most world markets.  The British were especially slow to respond to the Honda introduction of electric starters to motorcycles.  By the 1970s, Honda was the largest producer of motorcycles in the world, a title it has never relinquished.

Honda began producing road cars in 1960, mostly intended for the Japanese market.


Though participating in international motorsport Honda was having difficulty selling its automobiles in the United States. Built for Japanese buyers, Honda's small cars had failed to gain the interest of American buyers.


In 1976, the Accord was immediately popular because of its economy and fun-to-drive nature; Honda had found its niche in the United States.  In 1982, Honda was the first Japanese car manufacturer to build car plants in the US, starting with an Accord plant in Marysville, Ohio. 

Honda was also the first Japanese automaker to introduce a separate luxury line of vehicles.  Created in 1986 and known as Acura, the line is made up of modified versions of Honda vehicles usually with more power and sportiness than their Honda counterparts. Honda's supercar the NSX was sold in the US as the Acura NSX.

In a move that was set to revolutionise the way car-makers tuned their engines 1989, Honda launched its VTEC variable valve timing system in its car engines, which gave improved efficiency and performance across a broader range of engine speeds.  One of the first of its kind in passenger vehicles, it worked on the premise of tuning one engine to operate at two different 'settings' depending on speed.  Low speed driving would use a "shorter" cam lobe that resulted in more power and torque low down, but then a more aggressive "longer" cam during high-speeds for continued acceleration.  The result was that the driver had the 'best of both worlds', and many automakers today have introduced their own versions of variable valve timing.  The technology is now standard across the whole Honda range.


Source: Wikipedia

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