On September 24th of 1948, a 42-year-old bike mechanic named Soichiro Honda incorporated his company in Hamamatsu, Japan, and named it Honda Motor Company.
In his youth, Soichiro had not wanted to follow in the footsteps of his mother, a weaver, or his father, a bike mechanic. In his early adulthood, Soichiro Honda had tried many occupations, and was sometimes out of work. He was a bit of a dreamer who tended to switch around from one mechanic job to another. Between mechanics jobs, Honda took a job as a babysitter, a distiller, and whatever other employment he could find. At some point, Honda started a business in Hamamatsu, supplying parts to Toyota, but his business was destroyed by the bombs that were dropped during World War II.
In 1946, Honda took over an old, abandoned factory that lay in ruins from the bombings of the war, although his plans for the space were vague at best. He called this burned out, crumbling factory the Honda Technical Research Institute. He tried everything from building a rotary weaving machine, to producing woven bamboo roof panels, to mass producing frosted glass windows, along with many other endeavors.
One day, Soichiro Honda stumbled upon a surplus supply of two stroke engines, and at the same time, stumbled upon an idea. He would make and sell motorbikes.
It was the just right idea at just the right time and place, as people needed a way to get around post war Japan, where there was almost no gasoline and virtually no public transportation. Because of his mechanical skills, Honda knew how to adapt the engines to run on turpentine. Then he had some workers from the Hamamatsu factory affix these motors to flimsy bicycle frames.
Honda's motorbikes sold like there was no tomorrow. The surplus engines were soon gone, after which Honda started making his own turpentine fueled engines. This earned Honda enough money to expand his business. In 1947, Honda introduced his first complete motorbike, called the half horsepower A-Type.
After the company was incorporated, Honda produced a more sophisticated model, called the D-Type. The D-Type could go as fast as 50 miles an hour. In the 1950s, Honda introduced the Club, which was the first Honda product to be sold in the United States.
Honda started experimenting with small cars in the 1960s. At first, they were small, sporty racers. Then Honda introduced the Civic in 1973. The Civic burned less fuel and could pass American emissions tests. In 1989, the fuel efficient Honda Accord was the most popular car in the United States. Because Honda has always stressed fuel efficiency, eco friendliness, and affordability, the company's power and success has increased exponentially in recent years. Today, Honda is America's most popular car maker.
Soichiro Honda enjoyed physical activities like hang gliding well into his seventies. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1989. He died in 1991 at the age of 84, but the Honda Motor Company lived on.