OCT 21st 2015

Honda: GRR celebrates 50 Years in the UK

Soichiro Honda was a real dreamer; an absolute maverick. He probably wouldn’t survive in current Japanese business society’ says Honda UK Managing Director Phil Crossman. It is, though, as a direct result of that maverick approach that shortly Honda will be able to sell you almost anything mechanical, from a lawn strimmer to a private jet.

McLaren 570S promo

Born of a need to mobilise Japan after the devastating effects of World War Two, Honda famously sent a team to the Isle of Man with Mr Honda declaring: ‘With this, I announce my determination, and pledge with you that I will put my entire heart and soul, and turn all my creativity and skills to the task of entering the TT Races and winning them.’ The established manufacturers got wind of this and supposedly laughed the notion away, but in 1961 Honda nailed the top five positions in the 125cc and 250cc classes and by 1968 had produced a staggering 10,000,000 motorcycles. Ever since then it has been a major player at the TT and last year FoS star John McGuinness won the Senior TT race on a Honda CBR1000RR ‘Fireblade’. Oh and the most successful team in the British Superbike Championship? You guessed it …

From the Goodwood Festival of Speed hosted this year at Goodwood House, Chichester, West Sussex, UK, on June 27, 2015. © James Esq. www.dominic-james.com

Similarly, on four wheels Honda’s ambitions have never been less than lofty and their achievements rarely short of . Development of its Formula One programme began in 1962, with its first full season coming in 1964. Less than a year later it stood atop the podium for the first time and went on to produce the engines that powered Ayrton Senna to all three of his world championships. In the BTCC they’ve won six out of the last ten.

McLaren-Honda FoS

The road cars haven’t exactly been too shabby, either, and as a measure of this the anticipation within the motoring press surrounding the eagerly-awaited NSX is at fever pitch. Ask an experienced driver about the most fun cars they’ve driven and the odds are that at some point they’ll mention a (first generation) NSX, S2000 or Civic Type R.

Honda Civic Type R

Honda began trading in the UK the year they won their first F1 race – 1965 – and has been manufacturing here for thirty years. Managing Director Phil Crossman made an interesting point when he said recently: ‘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.’ Sadly, none of us will be around then to see if he’s right, but based on the last 50 years in the UK we’ve every reason to believe him. Can you imagine how good the NSX might be by then? Wow …

Here’s to the next fifty years …

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