By on January 10, 2015

HondaMuseum 046 (Large) (2)

Honda’s brand-new, $35 million dollar Heritage Center opened across the street from its Marysville auto factory on January 5th. A recent return to Ohio let me reunite with my mentor, a man recently known for his acquisition of an Accord Coupe, to test Honda’s curatorial abilities. How many company rarities and wall placards filled with corporate agitprop can one get for eight figures these days? Hit the jump to find out.

HondaMuseum 009 (Large)

            We had an appropriate steed for this jaunt, still rock solid after 18,000 miles in ten months. That layer of salt didn’t do it any favors, but it still looked appropriately aero-modern next to the Heritage Center’s steel and glass façade. The building itself isn’t terribly adventurous in its design, but it is eminently practical. The gallery area is flooded with natural light, thus avoiding one of my biggest pet peeves as a historian: dimly lit museums. I’d venture so far as to say that it captures a little bit of the design ethos of the company that funded it.

HondaMuseum 018 (Large)

            The Center is free to attend, but currently requires that you phone ahead and make a reservation. Exactly why is unclear. On the phone, the company rep indicated that we could take a guided tour at nine or noon, so I signed us up for a noon timeslot. Upon arrival, however, we were told to show ourselves around. I asked the polite front-desk worker if there were brochures available, and was informed that there weren’t any yet. No matter, as everything in the museum is presented alongside an abundance of information.

HondaMuseum 016 (Large)

            Before entering the gallery proper, you can peruse a couple landmark bikes and cars. There’s an example of the scooters that first brought the Honda corporate name to the States, as well as one of the dirt bikes that became the first Honda product manufactured in America. The two cars in the forecourt echo the same idea: the diminutive N600, followed by the historic 1983 Accord. The first provided the consumer beachhead, and the other put Marysville on the map as the new headquarters of American automotive manufacturing excellence.

HondaMuseum 019 (Large)

            That Accord is worth ruminating over a little more; that unassuming, three box sedan that changed everything. This was the make-it-or-break-it product for Honda’s American manufacturing operation. If the U.S.-built Accord had tanked, Marysville would have gone the way of Volkswagen Westmoreland. To that end, it’s easy to understand why Honda played it safe with the exterior. Accord customers in 1983 got a few straight-line body creases, and that’s it. The lack of embellishment one-ups even the unrelenting blandness of the Fox platform Ford sedans of the era. But the blandness was part of the sublime genius of it. It was an economy car in a positive sense: it was economical in size and weight, economical in consumption, economical in price (minus the dealer mark-ups) and economical in style. The second-generation Accord wouldn’t make sense in today’s market, but it was the right product at the right time in a way that few other models have matched.

HondaMuseum 043 (Large)

            The main gallery area is a big, airy room centered on an engine display. In the middle, there’s an exploded V6 of the type found in Jack’s Accord. Other powertrains can be found in a ring around the edge of the exhibit, including many built in Anna. The rest of the exhibits are organized in a loose chronological format. There’s a copious display dedicated to bikes, as well as a memorial to the end of motorcycle production in 2009. Sadly, there was no Rune on display- my favorite 2-wheeled Marysville product. Even so, there was plenty for Honda motorcycle enthusiasts to appreciate, with a lot of handy background information included.

HondaMuseum 038 (Large)

            The car selection is eclectic, with a number of Marysville-built products on display. There’s an ’88 Accord Coupe, the milestone car that became the first Honda product exported from the United States to Japan. There’s a gift to wagon fans, in the form of a fifth-generation Accord AeroDeck in right-hand-drive with a manual transmission. Other highlights include a CRX Si, a Civic CVCC, a first-generation Legend, a first-generation CL, the One Lap of America Odyssey, and NSX Rolex Cup car, and the new NSX prototype. Those hoping for oodles of rare Hondas are going to be disappointed; there’s the single first-generation NSX and no Type R’s or other factory specials. The large display on Hondajet is a reminder that ambition is not always an asset. There’s an exhibit with an Asimo robot prototype that is supposed to be able to mimic human movements, but he was broken when we visited. In general, the historical parts of the exhibit are far more interesting than the contemporary ones; those feel more like platitudinous corporate sloganeering than the promise of a great tomorrow.

HondaMuseum 028 (Large)

            It’s not a large space, and one gets the feel that it’s meant to be more of an educational experience than a warehouse of exotic treasures. In the end, that’s what this museum does best: provide a nice narrative of the Honda story in America, with some neat cars and interactive exhibits thrown in for good measure. It’s certainly worth a visit, if not  necessarily a pilgrimage. As it stands, the Heritage Center is just fine for its intended purpose; much like that ’83 Accord in the forecourt.

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82 Comments on “Honda Heritage Center Captures Triumphs, Challenges...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The bikes alone would be worth the visit. I had one just like the one in the last pic. Perhaps a self-guided tour app would be helpful. Nice story

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Nice ~

    One more place I’d like to visit once I retire .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I remember my quest for employment there when the complex was opening up in the early 80s and my GM plant was closing up. But they were (wisely, in my view) shunning anyone who had the scarlet letter of the UAW imprinted anywhere on them.

  • avatar
    kovakp

    Just put the guts from today’s Civic in that old Accord’s body and don’t get between me and the paperwork.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Yes!!! I think of my 2012 Civic as basically the same car as what the 94-97 Accords were, minus a bit of low end torque and +7mpg. Love the looks and color of that ’83.

      I remember going on a fishing trip with my dad and his friend in Fair Haven NY on Lake Ontario, we took the friend’s ’85 Accord. A pretty loaded car in that lovely burgundy color, with a wonderful red velour interior. I thought it was quite opulent, what with the rear door ash trays for both passengers. I was also looking at it from the perspective of our own family car at the time, a rusty brown 82′ Civic Wagon (5spd).

      I think my unicorn would be an ’88-89 Accord Hatchback LXi 5spd. I guess the NVH would seem excessive by modern standards but I’d like to think that it would be a reasonable commuter car.

      • 0 avatar
        snakebit

        Having used a new ’87 Accord LXi hatchback manual for 18 months before working for Acura, I can assure you that you’d be OK with NVH in that model, and they were a great highway car. One of the cars I drive now is a new Golf, super in many ways but it could use sufficient sound-proofing from road noise at interstate speeds, which the Accord had.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I had an automatic ’88 LX. NVH was very poor by modern standards but as good or better as anything made in the ’80s except BOF domestic boats. I could tolerate the noise in a commuter car but wouldn’t want to subject passengers (who are used to modern cars) to it. The real problem was that it was slow even by ’80s standards and would require a lot of care to drive on highways today. Adding 24 hp (LXi) and a manual would really help with that.

        What I still miss about that car is the sense of quality in the interior. Materials were excellent even by modern standards. Seat fabric and carpet were incredibly durable and tough, while also feeling honestly luxurious. Kick panels were carpeted and doors where upholstered. You had to look really hard to find any expanse of hard plastic. Switchgear felt like money. I had the ’88 Accord at the same time I had my 2004 TSX, and I can honestly say the Accord had nicer interior materials.

        • 0 avatar
          kovakp

          “Switchgear felt like money.”

          Brilliant. That and the huge visibility over the low dash was what knocked me out about ’80s Hondas.

          The detents on knobs, the spring rate on lever returns… just the sheer nano-detail that Honda bothered to worry about was overwhelming after the fake chrome, sloppy-acting controls in contemporary domestic cars.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I grew up in the ‘heyday’ Hondas and miss that gem-like assembly of the interiors as well as the fishbowl visibility. Our car history in the US is as follows (we came in 1992): 1982 Civic Wagon (5spd), bought very rusty for $750 from a work friend then sold back when we got a… 1985 Civic Sedan (5spd), used with some rocker panel rust and perpetually warped rotors. That got rear-ended really bad in 1996 so it was replaced with a used 1990 Civic Wagon (fwd, auto) that we kept until 2007 and 167k miles. It was finally replaced with a 2007 Fit (5spd manual) which my dad is still driving. When I got my first job out of highschool after much test driving, I defaulted to a lightly used 2012 Civic LX Sedan with a stick shift in Crimson pearl (maroon) and beige interior. It’s a fine car with good visibility amongst contemporary peers and a very low dash and minimal center console (excellent knee room). What’s missing is quality of interior fabric and plastics. The motor is still sewing machine smooth and the shifter is absolute perfection, but the handling is much more pedestrian than the older Hondas. The flip side is that it is much more comfortable on bad roads. So it’s still got some of Honda’s magic (including fantastic mpg) but feels like it’s missing that certain ‘special’ feeling that I got driving that old 1990 Wagon of ours in high school.

            The 2013+ Accords seem like Honda is getting back on the right track, but the Fit redesign is a regression IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I grew up in the ‘heyday’ Hondas and miss that gem-like assembly of the interiors as well as the fishbowl visibility. Our car history in the US is as follows (we came in 1992): 1982 Civic Wagon (5spd), bought very rusty for $750 from a work friend then sold back when we got a… 1985 Civic Sedan (5spd), used with some rocker panel rust and perpetually warped rotors. That got rear-ended really bad in 1996 so it was replaced with a used 1990 Civic Wagon (fwd, auto) that we kept until 2007 and 167k miles. It was finally replaced with a 2007 Fit (5spd manual) which my dad is still driving. When I got my first job out of college after much test driving, I defaulted to a lightly used 2012 Civic LX Sedan with a stick shift in Crimson pearl (maroon) and beige interior. It’s a fine car with good visibility amongst contemporary peers and a very low dash and minimal center console (excellent knee room). What’s missing is quality of interior fabric and plastics. The motor is still sewing machine smooth and the shifter is absolute perfection, but the handling is much more pedestrian than the older Hondas. The flip s1de is that it is much more comfortable on bad roads. So it’s still got some of Honda’s magic (including fantastic mpg) but feels like it’s missing that certain ‘special’ feeling that I got driving that old 1990 Wagon of ours in high school.

            The 2013+ Accords seem like Honda is getting back on the right track, but the Fit redesign is a regression IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            dig

            My first brand new car was a 1985 Civic S 5MT with the 1.5 liter. I had just got out of the USAF where I had been driving a mid 70’s Fiat 127. The Honda was like a space ship comparatively. Still miss that car.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            The new Accords are fantastic, and the “touchy-feely” spots are only a little ways below Acura, but some things like seemingly-easily-scratched plastic and fuzz-like carpeting are letdowns. (All-season mats or WeatherTech FloorLiners are * necessary * in these cars–the standard mats aren’t much better than the carpet beneath!)

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          As for me, I drove a new 1987 Lxi hatchback, and a series of 2004 TSX’s, both six-speed and automatic. I was very happy with the overall quality, including interior materials and comfort, of the LXi. The TSX , to me, was the closest in fit , comfort, and materials to BMW’s that I have been driving for the last 10 years, easily surpassing the already super interior of the Lxi. If the TSX were rear drive, it would be the equivalent Japanese version of the BMW 3-Series.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    My dad had a 1983 Accord in that same colour, hatchback, 1.6 automatic. Great car, surpassed only by the 1986 Accord hatch, dark metallic grey, which followed it – and that was an even better car.

    I liked Honda’s cars back then. Today, not so much, but my 2011 Honda CBR125R is a great little bike that the Americans never got.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    The lack of any of Honda’s special cars (Type R’s, ect) says basically everything that is wrong with American Honda today.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Well, everything that’s wrong with them from an enthusiast perspective. The Civic’s just sort of mediocre, biding time until it’s time for the 10th generation, but the rest of their core product is quite well regarded, right?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        No, not just from an enthusiast perspective. Consumers joined the ranks of the auto press and panned the previous Civic. Their hybrids were, for the most part, a failure. The last generation Accord was pretty far removed from previous Accords – the bloat and lack of typical Honda focus doomed it. This is certainly not what is expected from Honda. But they learn fast and the new Accord – hybrid or otherwise – seems to have jumped to the top of the class.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Well, that’s just it, isn’t it? A removal from their enthusiast-friendly product isn’t Honda’s problem, they just need to build good mainstream cars, something that, after a couple years of stumbling, they’re on track to do. And as much as Honda’s made mistakes, and mistakes for a good length of their history ( I bet you most people who’d point to the mid-90s as one of Honda’s high points in one breath would decry the Del Sol in the next), they learn from them, and inevitably have done something to deal with it within one generation (sadly, Acura seems slightly immune to this). Even the last-gen Accord was a perfectly good car, I think it was just Honda struggling to make a car specifically for North America, but still one that embodied their strengths. As mentioned, the current Accord is a big step forward.

          And honestly, I think Honda’s smart to move on past their Type R days. As the Civic SI’s shown, light, nimble, high-revving cars don’t compete that well against the league of turbocharged competitors available, with their easy torque. But, if Honda gave into that (which, they’re rather reluctant to do, being fairly stubborn), they’d be accused of selling out. Better to just make good cars that the average public will buy, since they’re not so concerned with ideals, just something that’ll reliably get them to work, and be worth something at trade-in time.

  • avatar
    jrmason

    I grew up on Honda dirt bikes, on/off road motorcycles and ATVs. I began racing CR80s and moved up to 125s and eventually a 250. They were all at the top of the class at the time. I was involved in a serious accident on the track and after 2 years of rehab and ocasional riding i got back on a 125 and after trying out a buddies new trx250r I had to have one. There was nothing out there that could touch the combination of performance and durability that came with a Honda. And then almost in the blink of an eye they became dormant. You can go buy a new Honda ATV today and it essentially sharing the same technology that was cutting edge 13+ years ago. I would love to know what the deciding factor was that led them down this path of complacency. I stuck with a Honda longer than any of my buddies did out of shear loyalty to them but eventually jumped ship and went to Can Am. While I love my 1000 v twin I still long for a big bore Honda 4×4 with 3 way adjustable suspension. If you build it, they will come. Just ask Can Am and Polaris.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      Speaking of 1000cc V-twins…

      I still deeply regret selling my Superhawk, the best bike I’ve ever owned. Yet that bike represents why Honda has become dormant. They spent so much on R&D developing so many new bikes that sold poorly that they got burned. Honda’s greatest 2-wheel success is the step-through, the most amortized vehicle in history. The recent emphasis on the CB500 line, for example, shows some of this thinking.

      In contrast, the jury is still out on the HondaJet, an expression of Honda hubris. It is a radical re-think of the planform for light jets. I suspect that the problem is that they didn’t think big enough as the market for VLJs isn’t that great (low transaction prices and competition from single-engine turboprops). VLJs were made possible by the development of the Williams turbofan, which is available to any manufacturer. Honda, being Honda developed its own engine (in partnership with GE). It reminds me of the DEC Rainbow, DEC had to go their own way, building their own floppy drives when IBM and the clones were using off-the-shelf parts that had a huge cost advantage.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    I’d like to see the heritage of broken timing belts, and the costs to the owners. Or the trans failures. Or the fuel contamination from the filler neck. The arrogant dealers. Such heritage.

    • 0 avatar

      You should get over yourself first…

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Since Honda was the only manufacturer that ever used timing belts, and the only manufacturer that ever made a fragile transmission (which, by the way, was *one* transmission out of all the ones they’ve ever made!).

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Far more than one bad transmision. Those in the 2nd generation minivan were some of the worst.

        I had a 1995 Accord LX sedan, auto. It shifted abrubtly, very jerky. I asked some Honda guys, they said my experience was typical. Also, the non-VTec engine was sorely lacking torque and power. Driving it through mountain passes was awful. I had to get behind big trucks because I couldnt keep pace with those passing them. My 1993 Tempo 2.3L had freakin 98 hp from the factory, but it flew over the passes like a sports car by comparison. It maintained 65-70 mph the whole way up. Now, if some jackass pulls out in his Caravan going 55, it took the Tempo a while to get back above 65, but it wasnt bad considering what it was.

        My 1991 Accord’s trans was even worse than the 95. If I have another Honda 4 cyl (which would be the only engine Id want), itll be a 5-speed.

        Im not a Honda guy per say, but I much prefer them to toyotas and Nissans. At least theyre fun to drive by comparison.

        Id pine for a first or last generation Prelude (never liked those in between). Id also like another Integra (had a 98), and I really liked the CRXs Ive had, would love to find an Si that isnt “modded” all to hell. Another Honda Id love would be an advacado green Z600 Coupe. Love those little things.

        More than transmissions, though, what I really have an issue with Hondas is their oil consumption. My 95 Accord used quite a bit. My 95 Taurus, with just a few more miles, uses between 0 and 1/4 quart between 5,000 mile oil changes. I use(d) the same oil and brand of filters (Motorcraft), but all of the Hondas Ive had seemed to guzzle oil compared to my Fords.

        Why he mentions timing belts is beyond me. Honda specifies when to change it. If people ignore that and never check it for cracks, they deserve a self-destructing engine. It would be nice if they were non-interferance, but oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      As far as broken timing belts, the only people that got burned on that are those that were too ignorant or too cheap to get them replaced at the very reasonable (IMO) 90k intervals. Unlike some other manufacturers (ie VW’s 1.8T and diesels) the belts never had a reputation of dying prematurely. If anything they can live a lot longer than that 90k but you’re gambling with bent valves at that point. For the few well known Honda debacles (V6 auto trans, main relay on older 90s cars, head gaskets on 80s cars, carb vacuum issues on old 80s cars, rear quarter panel rust up to late 90s) there are 10 times as many issues for Ford, GM, or Chrysler. Looking at the 1990s era, I’d rather have an Accord that needs a t-belt and water pump job every 90k and maybe some brake rotors, over a Grand Prix or Lumina that literally falls apart around me, leaks Dexcool into the engine, has a bunch of auxiliary components fail (engine sensors, alternators, water pumps, ignition coils, etc). Hondas are also fantastic cars to wrench on, you can tell a thoughtful team of engineers were thinking ahead to what maintenance would be like.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      “I’d like to see the heritage of broken timing belts, and the costs to the owners. Or the trans failures.”

      Yes, those wretched Japanese cars were such a trial and money pit for their owners that the Big 3 were easily able to maintain share and profits.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        Just name some brands of similar scale that can maintain overwhelming market share indefinitely, ok?

        The Big 3 (today) are simply not as bad as the reputation, while the “other brands” simply aren’t as good as their reputations. To the informed, that is.

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          Just what do you fantasize that these “reputations” are? They’re “better” and they’re better enough to win and keep share against the home team.

          That’s not going to change until Detroit has been doing an honest “every bit as damn good” for a decade.

          I’m still amused by Lutz’ claim, in 2003, that GM was just as good as anybody else. It wasn’t so then and it’s still not so. Lutz could have done what was necessary to fulfill that claim but he didn’t. Too bad.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            There was a pie chart showing market share on this or another site. Ford and GM continue to dominate, and FCA has gained huge market share this past year. Toyota does nearly match Ford, but combined, American makes walk all over other brands

            But, go bury your head in the sand and pretend that reality is as you imagine it.

          • 0 avatar
            kovakp

            “American makes walk all over other brands”

            American brands can’t even capture 50% in their own country. Think the same holds true in Japan, Germany or South Korea for their domestic brands?

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-X

            Lutz was paid to lie, despite being in a wealthy family his whole life—no courage to really affect change, but I admire him for “Working the system.”

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I have a G8 GXP. It’s just now undergoing its first problem that will cost any money to repair: a trashed oil pan gasket on the LS3, leading to an oil leak of several ounces a week. It’s about a $800 fix.

          At 36,000 miles.

          And it turns out this is a very common LS3 issue.

          Whatever Honda’s done wrong, it’s certainly not alone.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Foregin automakers are not welcome in South Korea or Japan. They are taxed to death, and when they (Japan) had their version of “cash for clunkers”, the ONLY vehicles that qualified for the program were Japanese cars. Imagine if, during our c4c program, you were only able to take advantage of it if buying an American car. There would be chaos in the streets. But, playing favorites is only okay if youre not the USA.

            Given the fact that most Japenese buy Kei cars (a class of vehicles virtually unheard of outside Japan. The Dumb…I mean Smart Fortwo loosely qualifies, but failed to make any inroads into that market). They are strictly limited (by financial reasons) to cars that fall under a certain size. Sure you can buy a Taurus-sized car in Japan, but you must prove you have a place to park it, and youll end up in BMW 7-series level transaction prices (factoring in heavy taxes designed to penalize people for buying a car that size) by the time you walk out the door. Would you pay $50k for an Impala? Me either, and that explains why Japanese manufacturers can dominate sales in their country, with the many small, smaller, and tiny cars in their lineup. You want to complain about “badge engineered” Buicks or Lincolns? They do it all the time, only moreso. Slightly different styling and a different sales channel are the only differences.

            Excuse me for saying so, but South Korea is just barely above 3rd world country status. The vast majority of their car market is dominated by cheap cars that are manufactured locally at a much lower cost than vehicles built in North America, Japan, etc. You try building a car in Chicago and sell it against a similar car built locally in Korea. Then add South Korea’s notoriously high import terrifs and taxes, and again, youre trying to sell an Impala for 7-series money. Not going very far like that. But, yeah, 1995 Nissan Maximas being built 20 years later with slightly updated styling and local (read: CHEAP) labor must be so much better than the Fusion/Mondeo or other modern (as in designed after I graduated high school in 2000) imports, right?

            These are just a few of the reasons why that is the case. But, just ignore the facts, meanwhile Ill guzzle another 40oz and go back to building Fairmonts or K cars or whatever badge snobs like you think domestic automakers still manufacture here.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Foregin automakers are not welcome in South Korea or Japan. They are taxed to death, and when they (Japan) had their version of “cash for clunkers”, the ONLY vehicles that qualified for the program were Japanese cars. Imagine if, during our c4c program, you were only able to take advantage of it if buying an American car. There would be chaos in the streets. But, playing favorites is only okay if youre not the USA.

            Given the fact that most Japenese buy Kei cars (a class of vehicles virtually unheard of outside Japan. The Dumb…I mean Smart Fortwo loosely qualifies, but failed to make any inroads into that market). They are strictly limited (by financial reasons) to cars that fall under a certain size. Sure you can buy a Taurus-sized car in Japan, but you must prove you have a place to park it, and youll end up in BMW 7-series level transaction prices (factoring in heavy taxes designed to penalize people for buying a car that size) by the time you walk out the door. Would you pay $50k for an Impala? Me either, and that explains why Japanese manufacturers can dominate sales in their country, with the many small, smaller, and tiny cars in their lineup. You want to complain about “badge engineered” Buicks or Lincolns? They do it all the time, only moreso. Slightly different styling and a different sales channel are the only differences.

            Excuse me for saying so, but South Korea is just barely above 3rd world country status. The vast majority of their car market is dominated by cheap cars that are manufactured locally at a much lower cost than vehicles built in North America, Japan, etc. You try building a car in Chicago and sell it against a similar car built locally in Korea. Then add South Korea’s notoriously high import fees and taxes, and again, youre trying to sell an Impala for 7-series money. Not going very far like that. But, yeah, 1995 Nissan Maximas being built 20 years later with slightly updated styling and local (read: CHEAP) labor must be so much better than the Fusion/Mondeo or other modern (as in designed after I graduated high school in 2000) imports, right?

            These are just a few of the reasons why that is the case. But, just ignore the facts, meanwhile Ill guzzle another 40oz and go back to building Fairmonts or K cars or whatever badge snobs like you think domestic automakers still manufacture here.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Foregin automakers are not welcome in South Korea or Japan. They are taxed to death, and when they (Japan) had their version of “cash for clunkers”, the ONLY vehicles that qualified for the program were Japanese cars. Imagine if, during our c4c program, you were only able to take advantage of it if buying an American car. There would be chaos in the streets. But, playing favorites is only okay if youre not the USA.

            Most Japenese buy Kei cars (a class of vehicles virtually unheard of outside Japan. The Dumb…I mean Smart Fortwo loosely qualifies, but failed to make any inroads into that market). They are strictly limited (by financial reasons) to cars that fall under a certain size. Sure you can buy a Taurus-sized car in Japan, but you must prove you have a place to park it, and youll end up in BMW 7-series level transaction prices (factoring in heavy taxes designed to penalize people for buying a car that size) by the time you walk out the door. Would you pay $50k for an Impala? Me either, and that explains why Japanese manufacturers can dominate sales in their country, with the many small, smaller, and tiny cars in their lineup. You want to complain about “badge engineered” Buicks or Lincolns? They do it all the time, only moreso. Slightly different styling and a different sales channel are the only differences.

            Excuse me for saying so, but South Korea is just barely above 3rd world country status. The vast majority of their car market is dominated by cheap cars that are manufactured locally at a much lower cost than vehicles built in North America, Japan, etc. You try building a car in Chicago and sell it against a similar car built locally in Korea. Then add South Korea’s notoriously high import fees and taxes, and again, youre trying to sell an Impala for 7-series money. Not going very far like that. But, yeah, 1995 Nissan Maximas being built 20 years later with slightly updated styling and local (read: CHEAP) labor must be so much better than the Fusion/Mondeo or other modern (as in designed after I graduated high school in 2000) imports, right?

            These are just a few of the reasons why that is the case. But, just ignore the facts, meanwhile Ill guzzle another 40oz and go back to building Fairmonts or K cars or whatever badge snobs like you think domestic automakers still manufacture here.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            If you believe that marketing cars in Japan or Korea is the same as it is in the US, then youre far too ignorant to contribute to this conversation. Thanks for playing.

            You remind me of some other ignorant snarky jackass on a automotive forum a few years ago who insisted that the horrible car they build in Iran is SO much better than American cars because it gets 35 mpg on the Euro cycle. Just too damn stupid to argue with. He also went on about how great Iran is and how bad we have it here in the US. Lol, yep, and the secret base on the dark side of the moon is proof!

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-X

            I agree. Each MFR has their problems. To ignore Honda’s problems and get orgasmic over their heritage was the counterpoint of my original post.

            Not dismissing the burden of your oil problem, but from an ownership perspective, it’s a “preferred, more conclusive” problem and fix than of the apologists of the “expected problems, with 1k oil burning, or the “expected maintenance” and various other real problems of the CDNW (can do no wrong) brands. And FYI, I think you can do it for much less. Oil pan gaskets are normally easy to get to. I’m a do it your selfer to a point; I’ll take that oil problem.

            Despite my TTAC name (OMG: “Detroit”), I’ve owned a lot of non-Big-3 brands, and I am not afraid to accurately state the results. Much to the dismay of the kids.

          • 0 avatar
            snakebit

            I don’t know how Pontiac/GM is handling the oil pan gasket leak. If it were Honda(and presumably Toyota) after about the fifth submitted claim from any dealer, dealer would received a call from a factory warranty administration person telling them to pack the errant gasket with proper Fedex label addressed to that factory worker, Fedex having already been dispatched to the dealer by the caller. The following day after receiving the bad gasket, someone in factory technical service would determine whether the gasket was the culprit or whether the mating surface on the oil pan was at fault, and they might have a turnaround repair memo within two weeks to mail to dealers, all the while pulling the offending part from parts distribution centers and asking dealers to return what stock they had of the bad part. My point is that the factory would get to the bottom of the service problem in as soon as a couple of weeks. I don’t know if “Detroit” was ever that thorough and quick to remedy service troubles. As for the G8 GXP specifically, I hope that the dealer and factory make the car right for you. It’s too nice a ride for them not to.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Despite my TTAC name (OMG: “Detroit”), I’ve owned a lot of non-Big-3 brands”

            I always took your name to mean anything but Detroit as in “X-wife”, funny how perceptions go

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            snakebit: I assume you don’t work in manufacturing. Five is too small a sample to accurately diagnose, well, anything…

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Well, I had to eat the intake gasket failure because GM didn’t pony up. And got the GM car through marriage. Figured GM was dead to me…and now a C7 res!des in the garage. Switchgear that “feels like money”? Just turn that suspension calibration knob in the center console. Best switch I have ever used. The other switches? Ok, maybe more than ok. So things can change.

            Detroit-x: You can add Honda A/C compressors to your crap list. That said if my new car is 90% as reliable as my friend’s Accord I will be thrilled.

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-X

            snakebit…

            You lost me at “if”

            golden2husky

            I would feel the same way as you do, after those terrible ownership experiences. I hope the kids on the site don’t berate you to replace your intake gaskets as regular maintenance, or expected failures. After all, we’re “all should know that,” … blah blah blah

          • 0 avatar
            snakebit

            GeoZinger,

            My point about triggers for instigating warranty concerns is just that. A car sold in the numbers that the G8 GXP was (i.e. low numbers) with five claims for leaking oil pan gaskets in short succession by different dealers would trigger a call-back for errant parts if it were a Honda vehicle. When I worked with Honda service, that was my experience. Substitute NSX for G8 GXP if that get the point across to you easier. It’s minor flaw, but it can mean potentially much more warranty expense if the customer or dealer doesn’t notice it in time. I don’t know how GM sets their call-back triggers or if they even operate that way, and I don’t know about other foreign-owned/US assembled car manufacturers, I’m just walking you through my experience with American Honda.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The problem on the G8 is that you have to remove some suspension components in order to have access to two of the oil pan bolts. It’s definitely a job a DIYer could do with a lift, but I don’t have either the space or the time to do it myself.

            The car’s currently in the garage with the leaking oil safely captured by a roasting pan. I’ll be getting an estimate from both the dealer and a couple of indie shops. Not under warranty anymore, so I have no expectation that GM will help me with it.

  • avatar
    NEPA_Z

    I was a kid attending our small town new car introduction / show when I first encountered the ’82 Accord. We were FORD PEOPLE, and cars had RWD and eight cylinders, don’t you know – Dad was driving a new LTD, although I didn’t know it was a ‘Panther’ at the time. Getting to see, sit in, and play with that Accord was a revelation. I didn’t know about sightlines and greenhouses and control layouts – I just knew that car was very different and very right, including the body fit and finish, the way the reverse-opening hood THWAP’d shut, and all the room inside despite the outer dimensions. Even the painted steel wheels with trim rings managed to look cool and not cheap. Years later in need of a college ride so my new Mustang wouldn’t have to get driven daily, I found an ’82 DX Hatch that had already seen 120k. No PS, no air, and of course it was a stick. 1.75L and 75hp IIRC – and I loved driving it from the first mile ’til the last. Changing the oil filter involved opening the hood and just reaching down – and that too was a revelation. What a great car, and fun to drive nearly flat-out with its limited grunt.

  • avatar
    EAF

    Simply amazing, thanks for this. I loved my 1988 Integra. Other than the ugly paint, it was utterly bulletproof.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    Jeez Kyree, getting less diplomatic in your old age…what are you now? 23? dal20402 & gtemnkh: Honda didn’t even see fit to offer a warning light to my two friends who had the timing belt failure. The trans and the fuel system were also failures experienced by close friends.
    I have that nads to call a Spade a Spade. How dare I say anything negative about Honda?!! My gosh, I forgot God designed them.

    • 0 avatar

      “Jeez Kyree, getting less diplomatic in your old age…what are you now? 23?”

      How dare you! I’m not *that* old…haha. I’m just saying…it was a spiteful comment for an article that’s supposed to celebrate the brand. We already know about the various issues that Hondas have had. But by and large, Honda has cultivated a well-deserved reputation for reliability and class-leading build quality, and if the other manufacturers have been unable to do the same, it’s not Honda’s fault…

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Everyone knows if you have a car with a timing belt that you have to periodically change them out. It’s considered normal maintenance

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Everyone knows if you have a car with a timing belt that you have to periodically change them out. It’s cons1dered normal maintenance

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Now THAT’s the diplomatic Kyree I’ve observed these years!
      Spiteful? Hah! And harsh or not, I typically speak of what I have personally observed directly with close friends’ ownership, or experienced through my ownership. I can hardly care if Honda’s inflated reputation is cut back to at least: reality.

      If Honda, or Honda fans, think such free speech, TRUE SPEECH, is too undeserving, then they can pony up and reimburse the time and money wasted on these Honda failures.

      And on the “world should know about rubber timing belts…” well, it just doesn’t work that way. Innocent and uninformed people have been screwed. Heck, a top-notch Porsche mechanic I know says that lots of their owners get burned on the timing belt breakage too.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Detroit-X,

      Give it a rest. If those cars were crap, Honda would be a distant memory. If Detroit vehicles of the day were really competitive, let alone better, Toyota and Honda would still have negligible market share.

      Your two friends should have looked in the owner’s manual. If you were acquainted with both at the time, you should have warned Friend #2 about Friend #1s problem before Friend #2 suffered the same fate.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        Oh, I’m just pointing out the crap ‘aspects’ of Honda. Didn’t you get it?

        • 0 avatar
          KixStart

          We “get it.” We get that you have an axe to grind and fantasize that, against all common sense and odds, that Honda doesn’t deliver value yet won and kept a big share of the midsize market.

          That’s not how the world works.

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-X

            A big share of the midsize market? Why not say “the market.” Answer. They are just a typical player, with all the random problems of most players today.

            Back to my point. Honda is now nothing special. I’ll say that to the end of time.

            For you, buy $1M of Honda stock if you are so convinced of the God-Honda’s superiority.

            They just want to suck cash out of the consumers, like all the other brands. Remember the Izusu Honda SUV? Remember the payola from dealers, to get enough inventory?

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      A warning light for a timing belt? How about a warning light for your serpentine belt? How about a warning light for how pliable your radiator hoses are? A warning light for gaskets? Do you have a basic understanding of automobile maintenance?

      Your reluctance to change brake fluid reinforces my opinion that you do not.

      • 0 avatar

        I understand the HT4100 was a crap motor. Doesn’t stop me from being on Cloud 9 in the GM Heritage Center.

        I understand the Windstar was a piece of junk. Doesn’t stop me from stopping mid-sentence to watch a classic Thunderbird drive by.

        I understand the RX7 has an unservicable timebomb of a motor under the hood. Doesn’t stop me from thinking a Cosmo is gorgeous beyond reason.

        I understand a ~2000 Odyssey is likely to eat a few transmissions. Doesn’t stop me from appreciating the robust timelessness of a ~’90 Accord.

        Is this difficult?

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        My reluctance to change brake fluid for imaginary reasons has resulted in hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in my savings account. Not one brake failure or accident. Think about that.

        Ever replace your power window switch fluid?

        Engines that destroy themselves, or at least leave a family stranded, by virtue of a company’s decision to cheap-out on design or materials, deserves to be called out here. Toner in an owners manual is enough legally, but not morally, and needs more of a warning for ownership, especially for the paycheck paycheck owners, that is #2 through #10+.

        Timing belt breakage is not a known/familiar scenario on all brands, like brake pad replacement from usage. Lots of people get caught in that Honda moral trap. Honda said FU to the #2+ buyers. Deal with it.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Imaginary reasons? I’m surprised that as someone many years your junior, I know some very basic aspects of automobile basics that you laugh off.

          You realize that brake fluid absorbs moisture over time, affecting brake pedal travel and reducing the boiling point of the fluid? You may have gotten by just fine, but one fine day you’ll be driving down a mountain road, gloating about your ‘thousands saved’ and you will apply the brakes down a hill, only to have the pedal fade into complete uselessness. Penny wise and pound foolish.

          What next, you’re going to tell me that changing differential fluid is a big conspiracy by oil companies? Transmission fluid is good for the life of the car like the geniuses at Ford et all told you when they removed transmission dipsticks and drain bolts?

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        gtemnykh

        Do you have a basic understanding of automobile maintenance?

        Yes, I do. And I do a lot of maintenance myself. And because of that I call out Honda for their internal engine grenade feature.

        Warning lights are easy.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          “warning lights are easy”

          Hondas going back to at least the 4th gen accord (90-93) had maintenance minder indicators that changed from green to red to remind the owner to come in for an oil change or whatever else was specified (ie timing belt).

          If you’re implying that there should be warning lights for every sort of impending mechanical failure (not just maintenance), why didn’t ford put in a light for all those Taurus transmissions that crapped the bed, Chrysler with Ultradrive failures, GM with upper intake gaskets? Your argument is asinine.

        • 0 avatar
          EAF

          Honda’s R-series engines (1.8, 2.0) and K-series engines (2.0, 2.4), which exclusively power their 4cyl line-up, all presently use timing CHAINS. Almost every manufacturer has used a timing BELT for their OHC configured engine. (Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Ford, Nissan, Subaru, VW, Chrysler)

          Is their more maintenance involved with BELTS? NOT ALWAYS!

          In theory, a timing CHAIN requires less maintenance. Lately, based on only my own personal observations, timing CHAINS themselves have been the culprits of many low mileage engine failures. In general terms, without singling out any particular manufacturer, timing CHAINS have stretched beyond service limits. Timing CHAIN tensioners, which function on oil pa. , have seen failures in their implementation and/or in their design. AND, timing CHAIN tension rails, for several reasons, have been displaying premature wear.

          I think we will see manufacturers eventually revert back to timing BELTS. Ford’s ‘new’ 1.0 Ecoboost, for example, uses a timing BELT that is submerged in oil, in a kind of chain-belt hybrid. Despite the lower mileage service interval, traditionally, belts have been more reliable than chains and much quieter as well!

          I agree with everything you’ve said qtemny, it would appear that Honda engineers do have the serviceability of their product in mind.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    That’s like complaining that you crashed into the guy in front of you cause you neglected to replace the brake pads to the point where there was no friction material left at all.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My wife had a 77 Accord hatchback 5 speed manual for over 17 years, great car. She now has a 2013 CRV loaded with heated leather seats and I have a Honda Harmony self propelled lawnmower with a xenoy deck and hydrostatic transmission, both are excellent. I prefer Hondas over Toyotas.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Wish Honda would finally come out with another 2 stroke bike, my waiting time is about up.
    Their 4-strokes are over the top heavy (and I often borrow a softtail 103 cu.in. to cruise on) for doing any offroad fun.

    They’ll give you no power, or they’ll give you heavy, those are your options. Just give me a 400-500CC 2-stroke bike with a kickstart for around 6k and I’m sold.

  • avatar

    If you want to see the first American-made Accord, though, you have to travel to Dearborn, it’s on loan to the Henry Ford Museum

  • avatar
    Driver7

    If I have a chance, I’ll visit the Honda Heritage Center – it may qualify as a pilgrimage for me.
    I was, until 2010, the proud and happy owner of a 1989 Civic DX. That car was ergonomically as perfect as anything I’ve driven: The steering wheel, gearshift, pedals and dash were optionally positioned.
    That Civic had a very good steering feel (not quite as good as the 1977 VW Rabbit I owned, but the Civic was *way* more reliable). The Civic’s materials and switchgear were good, solid, and felt right, and lasted that way a long time.
    With regular maintenance, the Civic ran. And ran. And ran. (And yes, I had a timing belt fail on me, but the results and costs were not catastrophic.)
    And the guy I sold my Civic to after 248,000 miles raves about the car the way I do.

  • avatar
    vibe

    I just finishing reading “Driving Honda” along with some of his quote. I have more respect for Honda’s belief, courage, honesty, responsibility to his workers and design acumen. He is more American than most American. I don’t think today Honda philosophy is a reflection of his belief. Unfortunately, that is what has happened to many industries today.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    It is a shame that Honda’s philosophy is a rarity. My wife worked for Pan Am for over 25 years. Juan Trippe the founder of Pan Am had this philosophy as well and Pan Am was a leader as a World class airline with the best first class service in the World. The decline of Pan Am occurred when Mr Trippe died and the rest is history. If you treat employees right and you are a good corporate citizen then you will become successful.

    As for 2 stroke motorcycles the EPA standards have killed them with Yamaha being the last to produce a small street bike and having to put a catalytic converter on it. Newer clean air standards have killed the 2 stroke lawnmower and will eventually kill the 2 stroke weed whacker, blower, chain saw and a host of other 2 stroke small engines.

    Ronnie my wife had a grey 77 Accord CVCC hatchback with a 5 speed manual and a manual choke which is very similar to the one that was pictured in a TTAC article several months ago (I believe it was on the article about the Honda headquarters in California). I believe the very first Accord was 76 but I think the 77 was for the most part the same car. The 77 Accord would get 40 mpgs on the highway and would not get below 30 mpgs (a great snow car).

  • avatar
    wmba

    I’d like to visit the museum myself. The Honda history pages at their global website are really quite good, and don’t sugar coat things too much.

    Never did get the cars though. My friend’s five year old 1984 Accord dropped its engine on the ground and bubbled with rust everywhere. Equivalent VWs never rusted like that. Never. So you got five years of troublr-free motoring around here and then poof, nothing.

    They’re a strange outfit.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    ” Everyone knows if you have a car with a timing belt that you have to periodically change them out. It’s considered normal maintenance ”

    TGhey most certainly DO NOT ! .

    Car Guys do but few others .

    -Nate

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