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Honda's 40 Years In Australia

Honda T500 (copyright image)

Honda T500

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5th February, 2009

In the year that America's Neil Armstrong touched down on the surface of the moon, Honda touched down in Australia.

Honda Australia celebrated its 40th birthday yesterday (Wednesday, 4th February, 2009.

From its humble beginnings in a two-bedroom flat in the Melbourne suburb of South Yarra, Australia is now one of Honda's leading markets.

Honda Australia’s first General Manager, Mr. Hidehiko Shiomi, set up business in a Millswyn Street flat and represented half of the initial workforce. His colleague at the time was Mr. David Morwood. There are now over 500 people employed by Honda in Australia including the motorcycle, power equipment and marine company (Honda MPE).

Life, Scamp and Z360 may not be familiar model names these days, but were among the first cars that Honda released in Australia. The comparison of these ‘minis’ to current models, such as the Thai built Honda Accord Euro demonstrates how progressive the company has became over the past 40 years.

1973 Honda Civic (copyright image)

1973 Honda Civic

Honda Australia’s current Managing Director and CEO, Mr. Yasuhide Mizuno, is proud of Honda’s accomplishments during this time.

“Over the last four decades, we have had the pleasure of selling some of the most exciting and innovative vehicles on the Australian market. Even in those early days, Honda was ahead of its time, releasing models that included power steering and electric windows as standard,” Mr. Mizuno said.

It took less than a year for Honda to outgrow the South Yarra flat and at the end of 1969, Honda moved to a warehouse complex in Johnston Street, Abbotsford.

The year 1972 was a major turning point when Honda released the Civic in Australia. This car soon became one of Honda’s most popular vehicles.

“The release of the Civic cemented the Honda brand in Australia and showcased the innovative technology that people would come to expect from us over the years,” said Mr. Mizuno.

“Honda has been a world leader in producing low emission vehicles, dating back to the original Civic in 1972 with its ultra-clean CVCC engine. We have introduced hybrid and natural gas powered cars and in the future, it is our vision to provide the world with the ultimate emission-free car, Honda’s hydrogen fuel cell FCX Clarity,” said Mr. Mizuno.

Honda Australia went from strength to strength during that first decade, introducing the Accord in 1977. A year later the Prelude coupe was introduced.


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By the 1980s Honda was no longer a small operation and moved its headquarters to Tullamarine. It also commenced selling motor vehicles in Western Australia, opened a new office in Tasmania to sell motorcycles and released the Prelude and Civic second and third generations.

In 1984 the first ever Legend was released, Honda’s flagship model.

Honda began manufacturing lawnmowers on the 17th February 1988, quickly expanding the business with significant volumes to New Zealand, China and the Middle East.

Road safety and rider education were catered for with the opening of the Honda Australia Rider Training (H.A.R.T) facility in December 1989, the first in Australia.

In October 1991, Honda Motorcycle and Power Equipment Company was formed as a subsidiary of Honda Australia Pty Ltd. Honda motorcycles have dominated the Australian market. Founding Director Stuart Strickland, who has led the company since 1991, remains a driving force behind the success of Honda MPE.

The power equipment division works closely with Australian industry, supplying Honda engines to a huge range of equipment manufacturers.

With a growing market share and increased popularity for the brand, Honda Australia founded its corporate social responsibility arm, The Honda Foundation in 1992. The Foundation supports Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Honda Australia's Senior Director and Chairman of the Foundation, Mr. Lindsay Smalley, says the Foundation is an important part of Honda, whose global vision is to be a company that society wants to exist.

“The Foundation has donated over $6 million to worthy Australian organisations that help the disadvantaged and promote research. The Foundation draws funding from our Australia-wide dealer network as well as Honda Australia. For each car sold, the dealer donates $5 to the Foundation and Honda Australia donates $10,” Mr. Smalley said.


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Models names, over the the years, for the Honda brand in Australia included: N360, Z360, Scamp, Life, City, Jazz, Civic, Concerto, Insight, Accord, Accord Euro, Prelude, Legend, Odyssey, HR-V, CR-V and MDT amongst the passenger car range.

In the sporty Honda line-up, names such as S600, CRX, 1300 coupe, Integra, S2000 and NSX excite Honda's true believers.

Light weight commercial vehicles included the T500 (as shown above).

Some of the aforementioned named models had derivitives with a different engine (and a different name). Additionally, some models came with various body styles.

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