Soichiro Honda was a mechanic who, after working at Art Shokai, developed his own design for piston rings in 1938. He attempted to sell them to Toyota who rejected his first design. After two years of study and further refinement, Honda earned a contract from Toyota. He constructed a new facility to supply Toyota, but soon after, during World War II, the Honda piston manufacturing facilities were almost completely destroyed.
Soichiro Honda created a new company with what he had left; his country was starved of money and fuel, but still in need of basic transportation. Honda, utilizing his manufacturing facilities, attached an engine to a bicycle which created a cheap and efficient transport. He gave his company the name Honda Giken Ko-gyo- Kabushiki Kaisha which translates to Honda Research Institute Company Ltd. The official Japanese name for Honda Motor Company Ltd. remains the same in honor of Soichiro Honda’s efforts. On 24 September, 1948 the Honda Motor Co. was officially founded in Japan.
Honda began to produce a range of scooters and motorcycles and Soichiro Honda quickly recovered from the losses incurred during the war. Honda’s first motorcycle to be put on sale was the 1947 A-Type. However, Honda’s first full-fledged motorcycle on the market was the 1949 Dream D-Type. It was equipped with a 98 cc engine producing around 3 horsepower. This was followed by a number of successful launches of highly popular scooters throughout the 1950s.
In 1958, the American Honda Company was founded and only one year later, Honda introduced its first model in the United States, the 1959 Honda C100 Super Cub. The Honda Cub holds the title of being the best-selling vehicle in history, with around 50 million units sold around the world. By the 1970s, Honda was the largest producer of motorcycles in the world, a title it has never relinquished.