TOKYO - Honda Motor Co. will celebrate its 50th anniversary on 4 October at Honda's newly-built Twin Ring Motegi race grounds.
The unofficial theme will be 'Rides and Drivers,' with race cars, motorcycles, and drivers from Honda's past gathering to honor the company.
The day will emphasize Honda's heritage of making engines. Honda is also expected to offer details that day on its return to Formula 1 racing.
The focus on engines will be true to Honda's heritage, but not its current approach to marketing. Few consumers today buy Honda's Accord or S-MX minivan for the engines. Rather, those vehicles are popular because of their interior styling and Honda's near-perfect positioning of them in the market.
To be sure, Honda has never neglected styling. Founder Soichiro Honda displayed a keen eye for industrial design. One of his first successful motorbikes featured a smart red-and-white, saucer-shaped fuel tank located beside the rear wheel.
Yet Honda has always considered itself first and foremost an engine company.
Following engineer and tinkerer Soichiro Honda, the company's presidents have come from the engine-design side. Honda's current president, Hiroyuki Yoshino, was a member of the fabled team that produced the CVCC engine, the first to meet US emissions standards without using a catalytic converter.
Honda was founded after World War II as a motorcycle company, with the equivalent of less than $2,000 in capital.
Honda entered the car business against the wishes of Japan's powerful Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
It is now Japan's third largest carmaker, after Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., and the world's eighth largest in terms of production.
On the company's exact birthday, 24 September, Honda showed its SSM sports car, which will go on sale next year.