Richie Ginther crossed the line at the Mexican Grand Prix in first position, taking Honda’s first Grand Prix win in 1965. Coincidentally, it was also the year that Honda started trading in the UK…
A lot has changed since then, but one thing has remained constant at Honda – a dedication to the very best engineering. That dedication has led to classic car after classic car being produced, from the iconic Ayrton Senna-inspired NSX to the modern Civic Type R and veteran S800. It might not always make the world’s most exciting cars, but every few years Honda absolutely nails it.
It’s not just cars, though. Having sold more than 27 million units last year, you might be surprised to find that 17 million of those are motorcycles and six million are power products. Just 4.3 million are cars.
It takes an army of 182,000 people to produce all of that, 8,000 of whom are employed in Europe. For 30 years some of them have been at the Honda factory in Swindon, a 370-acre site that is now, thanks to a £2.2 billion investment from Honda, the global production hub for the five-door Civic, including the Type R.
Staying in the UK, Honda’s motorcycle division has an impressive 20 per cent market share, while the British Superbike team is the most successful in the championship – even if 2015 didn’t go quite to plan. On four wheels, Honda continues to win in British Touring Cars, taking the drivers’ and constructors’ championship again last year.
It’s also the largest ATV manufacturer, the third largest outboard motor manufacturer, and has a range of some 225 power products, from leaf blowers to robot lawn mowers.
“This year marks our golden anniversary in the UK with fifty years of rich history in trading bikes, power products and cars,” explains Philip Crossman, Honda UK’s managing director. “While last year was significant in refreshing the car range in its entirety and launching several important new bikes, the Japanese way is to take a much longer viewpoint than just 12 months.
“Our business has changed radically over since it launched in the swinging sixties, adapting and evolving to suit the demands of riders and drivers over the years. I can well imagine that Honda will be a completely different organisation in 2065 – but still selling quality and trusted cars, bikes and power products.”
Those products will be joined by a £2.8 million private jet in 2016. Imaginatively called the HondaJet, it promises to revolutionise the luxury jet market thanks to low noise, high-speed and efficiency, and intelligent use of space.
Or, in other words, the very best in engineering.