In Japan carmakers proudly display their wares at their company headquarters, but that’s not always the case for their American subsidiaries. For years, Honda kept their US heritage collection in a warehouse — a nice one — but one that wasn’t truly accessible by the public. Back in July that warehouse quietly closed for good, and on September 12 reopened the official American Honda Collection Hall at its US headquarters building in Torrance, California.
The gallery takes its name from the Honda Collection Hall at Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Tochigi Prefecture. That museum is a must-see pilgrimage for Honda-heads, and houses hundreds of the company’s most significant vehicles, from 1940s motorcycles to championship-winning Formula 1 cars. Similarly, the American Honda Collection Hall showcases the most important milestone vehicles from the company’s history in the US.
The collection hall is located in the main building of American Honda’s headquarters in Torrance. It’s a sprawling 101-acre campus that encompasses sales, marketing, service training, esport, product planning, R&D design and other functions, plus a distribution center. There are 1.1 million square feet of office, shop, warehouse and storage space, with room for over 2,500 personnel.
What makes it feel like a proper museum is that it doesn’t simply shove a bunch of cars into an empty space. There’s displays, like a replica of the American Honda’s first storefront in Hollywood, California established in 1959. Inside, there’s a mural of the actual store, photos of American Honda’s establishment, and a large screen that plays a short movie about the Honda history.
Motorcycles are displayed on an undulating “track” that wraps around the exhibition space. It displays the bikes upright and often eye-level, which is fantastic for examining engineering marvels like the NR750 up close. Wall-sized versions of historic photos and quotes from Soichiro Honda form backdrops that lend a air of gravitas.
The American Honda collection has about 60 cars and bikes, but the space isn’t large enough for all of them to be displayed at the same time. We counted about 25 cars on display at the grand opening. The old warehouse facility was much larger, and the remaining cars have been stored elsewhere on the campus to be rotated through the gallery periodically.
A section in the back is devoted to Honda’s many racing machines. There are no Formula 1 or JGTC heroes, but the cars displayed are important to the story of Honda in America. Cars like the RealTime Racing Integra Type R, Acura IMSA GTP Lights champion, and CART Indycar open-wheelers that gave Honda an Engine Manufacturer’s Championship title.
One can see by the low ceilings that barely accommodate a car on a lift that the area occupied by the Collection Hall was never intended to be a gallery. It used to be a bank of conference rooms, which were torn down to make room for the museum. Honda says it took just nine months to complete, which included relocating those conference rooms to another floor.
Honda is an engine company through and through, and no collection would be complete without some power equipment. The Collection Hall devotes a section to lawn mowers, generators, outboard motors, and more. Even a hedge trimmer is lovingly arranged as if it were a Renaissance sculpture.
Any self-respecting Japanese corporate headquarters lobby gallery must have a place to grab a pastry and beverage, and American Honda’s does not disappoint. The Power of Dreams Cafe sits adjacent to the gallery, across from a small gift kiosk where visitors can buy T-shirts, diecast cars, and other trinkets.
The best part about the new Collection Hall is that the public will now have more opportunities to see it. Starting next month Honda will host “Cars, Bikes & Coffee” events at their headquarters, giving enthusiasts a chance to tour the gallery. If you’ve ever wanted to see Honda’s heritage fleet, this is your chance. The events will take place every other month on the third Saturday of the month, from 9am to 12pm. Cars and motorcycles of all makes and models are welcome. The first one takes place on October 21.
American Honda Collection Hall grand opening.
1965 Honda S600.
1970 Honda N600.
1979 Honda Accord CVCC and 1975 Honda Civic CVCC.
1983 Honda Prelude and 1984 Honda Civic Wagon.
1999 Honda Prelude SH.
1997 Honda CR-V and 2006 Honda Insight.
2009 Honda S2000 CR.
1986 Acura Integra, 1986 Acura Legend, and 2021 Honda Civic Type R LE.
Acura NSX, Acura Integra Type R, and Acura MDX.
1962 Honda Super Cub C102.
1965 Honda CB160.
1967 Honda CA78 Dream.
1966 Honda CL77 Scrambler.
1970 Honda CB750 Four.
1976 Honda GL1000 Gold Wing.
1970 Honda ATC90.
1978 Honda Express.
1981 Honda CBX1000 Super Sport.
1982 Honda MB5.
1991 Honda CBR600F2.
1997 Honda CBR900RR.
2004 Honda RVT1000RR RC51.
1990 Honda VFR750R RC30.
1983 Honda VF750F Interceptor.
2000 Honda Rune.
1970 Honda CR750.
2004 Honda HRX217VLA lawn mower.
Honda CB30 and BF5 outboard motor.
1960s Honda Cuby engine.
1964 Honda E40 generator with Sony portable television.
Honda E300 generator.
Honda EM400 generator.
Honda EU3200i generator.
The coolest engine stand ever.