Remember in the 80s and 90s when Honda could do no wrong? Compare those steallar lineups to the current one and even the most die hard Honda head is asking himself, “What in Soichiro’s name is going on?” Honda Japan’s latest commercial could explain.
The ad, titled “We will not be Beaten,” trots out Honda’s landmark vehicles for a life-sized timeline. But as the camera progresses from 1965 RA272 to 1991 Beat, the narrator rallies a cry of “Let’s surpass the old Honda!” as the new NSX concept leaves the past behind. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but isn’t the old Honda what made the company?
Although Soichiro died in 1991, Hondas continued a tradition of dynamism and superb engineering throughout the decade. That’s because the lead time for something like a car is at minimum three years, and Old Man Honda’s competitive spirit was still around to scare the minions straight for the next six. But now, 20 years after his passing, if the company really has as much disregard for its past as this commercial seems to imply then Soichiro must be spinning in his grave faster than an S800 at redline.
So maybe if there was no S2000 or Civic Si (1989), could it mean they are not ignoring those.
(Did not see an EG 6 or an EK 9 either).
They definitely have lost the plot over the past decade. I don’t think a new NSX really shows any change in that either. Halo cars are easy. Imbuing innovation and joy in the prosaic bread and butter of a model line-up is the hard part.
Until Honda shows up with a new Fit or Civic that makes one sit up and go “woah” they will continue in their decline. I’d be much more impressed if they built and globally sold their new EV-ster concept ( a Tesla Roadster for the masses) than anything they do with a new NSX. An EV-Ster with a 150hp screamer of a motor to play off against the 86/BRZ would be even better…
you guys nuts? i’m test driving a new anuscross tday!
LOL! I actually kind of like the CrossTour (maybe slammed on some black Wats it wouldn’t look too bad) but anuscross had me snorting!
“Slammed on black wats” is your answer to everything! 😛
It’s not just my answer, it is THE answer to everything! 🙂
LMAO Looks like a pregnant Accord.
I think the piece I wrote on my blog sums it up rather well.
eh. i’m kinda ready to write them off. i don’t think they’ll ever be as great as they used to be. toyota has grown in all sorts of ways over the years, despite the ups and downs; honda has stagnated, but at least they haven’t fallen into complete crap, just mediocrity. they’ve just become the utterly safe and sensible choice, nothing more. which is great for business, not so great for the enthusiasts
they are doing what they have to right now to get through this economic situation. if you all can’t see that, then fine, go somewhere else. they don’t want to end up like mazda.. cause right now, mazda is HURTING.
say what you’d like about the new fits, but if you actually own one you’d realize how incredible the car is. you’re judging a book by it’s cover. no, i’m not “butthurt” but i do own a couple of hondas. give them a few years to get back on there feet.
I love Hondas, and that’s what’s adding to my disappointment. In the 80s and 90s, everything from the Odyssey to the Accord lowly Civic did their job AND was fun to drive. Somehow they’ve lost the latter part. The Fit IS a great car, perhaps the sole beacon of hope in their lineup, but it screams “Old Honda” and it’s getting on in years. I don’t have much hope for the next gen given their trajectory
Mazda is hurting? Mazda sales has been consistently up. Just earlier this month they reported sales increase of ~21% over last year. A year ago they were up ~14%, and a year before that, ~17%. They were hurting, back in the mid-’90s when their products became a bit too specialized and niche. Mazda has now figured out a nice middle ground b/t interesting and dynamic cars and enough broad appeal to sustain the business, whereas Honda has drifted more to a lower common denominator. Honda still makes decent cars, but back in their heyday Hondas weren’t just decent, they were hand-down exceptional.
From this Die-Hard nostalgic HondaHead:
Honda is a different company than it once was. Find an old copy of “Honda Motor, The Men, The Management, The Machines” and you can see how a company guided by a couple of driven key individuals can form a personality and culture of its own. Like Ben noted, the passing of time has diluted Mr. Honda’s influence. I remember reading that Soichiro Honda promissed parts availabilty for the S-Series as long as there was one on the road. Could you imagine today’s corporate Honda holding to that? Nope, even if it could be a great promotional scheme.
After driving my new 82 Civic off the lot, it seemed that Honda introduced a cooler car every year. I lost interest about the time they dropped the CRX.
Walking through my office parking lot, I can’t believe the shear number of boring vehicles that are being sold. So I think all the manufacturers have gone cookie-cutter; some (like Honda) more than others.
Their target is the General Public. Let’s be proud that we’re no longer the G.P. and enjoy our nostalgics! 🙂
I love my 86 and my 81! I agree with your statement and it really bothers me that they stopped having “full availability” of parts the very day that Soichiro died. I think the chance to keep more old school Hondas on the road to help the “Brand Image” would be worth it to them. Considering that most dealerships/companies make most of their money from service and part sales (NOT the actual car sales) it would only be in their best interest to continue to stock those parts. It is sad to see them devolve into another “Mobile jelly bean” manufacturer like the rest.
I love their products from the past. I have a ’92 Integra GSR, a ’91 Civic Si, and a ’89 Prelude Si. Wonderful cars.
The cars they make now don’t do much for me; I prefer my old ones to the new ones.
Honda has lost its Mojo, or should I say, Tojo?
The Prelude with the Integra behind:
Very nice cars! It’s refreshing to see some that aren’t modded to high heaven!
Thank you for the kind words!
Honda made some cool stuff in the last 10 years. The Mugen RR and the S2000 plus their street bikes. Scooters like the Ruckus/Zoomer. K series and F series motors are nice. Honda
“[…] then Soichiro must be spinning in his grave faster than an S800 at redline.”
But yes, it is sad to see what Honda is making now. I hope they make smaller and better cars in the future… the new ones lost all their character.
Well, how about their work in the home power space? Seems to me like they are dabbling in something much bigger than cars, and gaining knowledge needed for life after the internal combustion engine.
EK’s….some of the most modded and molested Honda cars out there. Perhaps there was just cause….
Nice advertisement. Considering they had supply problems due to the earthquake in Japan and the floods in Thailand – they should have this “You must not be beaten.” thinking.
I saw this rot set in when the second-generation Odyssey debuted. They bragged about how they had focus-grouped it with typical American minivan buyers and gave them what they wanted.
Which was a Chrysler minivan made by someone other than Chrysler.
Focus groups are a useful tool, but when you rely on them for product planning the best you’ll ever get is a mishmash of what everyone else is doing. “Typical buyers” =/= long-range planners.
Don’t really agree. If you go back to the 70s and 80s, the Civic Cvcc, the first Accord, the first Prelude, didn’t set the world on fire with flat-out acceleration. But, they were about refinement, practicality, and thoughtful packaging. The car as a harmonious package, engaging the driver as a partner. It has always amazed me what Honda can do with a 4-cyl engine. I think the market has changed, and Honda has followed. I’ve had a 79 Prelude, a 90 Accord, and a 91 Civic. Just bought a 2012 CR-V, Saitama production, and I’m elated with it. I see all the values of the historic Hondas that I’ve owned, but with thoughtful, practical, and efficient use of technology. Toyota I feel has fallen farthest with the fat, high, blob styling, auto as appliance, but not partner with the driver. If you want to look at a rose that’s lost it’s petal, that would be BMW. Contrast the 1968 2002, or the 1991 325is with the fat, expensive, and failure prone new models, and arrogant dealers.