HONDA Jazz Technical specifications
End of the 19th – early 20th century. The automotive frenzy is sweeping across the Old and New Worlds. Car brands and designer names emerge and vanish like exhaust fumes in the wind. Speed and endurance records are set on horseless carriages. The construction of roads and infrastructure for this new mode of transport – the automobile – is rapidly advancing. Europe and the US are pushing the boundaries in the development and refinement of this revolutionary transportation, while on the Japanese islands, patriarchal tranquility still reigns.
The first automobile to grace Japan was brought in 1898 by a French trader - a Panhard-Levassor. This unprecedented contraption left the Japanese in awe, unfamiliar as they were with gasoline engines, associating mechanical transportation only with steam-powered locomobiles assembled from foreign kits, like those from Stanley.
It is also known that in 1902, Japanese engineer Kamonosuke Ushiyama imported a gasoline engine from America and, based on it, created an automobile. However, no details about the engine or the car have been preserved.
Officially, the first Japanese automobile was the omnibus built in 1905 by engineer Shineitaro Yoshida, equipped with an imported gasoline engine. In 1907, Yoshida introduced the first passenger car, the "Takiri" (meaning creaking). The name perfectly reflected the main flaw of this automobile – the noise and racket it produced.
Between the first Japanese omnibus and the first Japanese passenger car, another event took place in Japan that could have gone unnoticed by the world if not for its future consequences. On November 17, 1906, in the small village of Hamamatsu, at the foot of Mount Fuji, a boy named Soichiro was born into the humble family of a village blacksmith named Honda.
In his childhood, Soichiro Honda assisted his father in his mechanical workshop, repairing bicycles. When he started school, he displayed his inventor's abilities for the first time: the school sent progress reports to the parents, certified with the family seal (a personal or family seal still used in Japan instead of a signature). Little Soichiro crafted a rubber copy of the family seal, taken from an old bicycle pedal, and successfully "endorsed" the reports with it. The deception was exposed when he began making copies of seals for his classmates – he didn't know that the image on the seal had to be mirrored. In his case, the characters representing the Honda family name were symmetrical, and mirroring didn't matter. However, with other surnames, the forgery didn't pass.
Soichiro Honda vividly recalled his excitement at seeing the first car that accidentally arrived in the village during his lifetime. It was the famous classic Ford Model T. According to him, he "couldn't forget the smell of oil" emanating from it, and this encounter defined his entire future life.
In 1922, at the age of 15, the young lad set off to Tokyo in search of work. He managed to get a job at the Art Shokai auto repair workshop, which serviced and sold Daimler cars, as a nanny for the workshop owner's child, Shinichi Sahibakara. The chances of becoming a mechanic were slim, but as often happens, fate intervened. In 1923, a powerful earthquake struck, claiming the lives of more than 140,000 people. Most mechanics of the workshop dispersed to their homes to rebuild or repair their damaged houses. The shortage of workers became acute. The owner, who had long noticed the young man's inclination towards technology, decided to relieve him of nanny duties and involve him in workshop activities. The newcomer quickly learned and developed professional skills. Interacting with Sahibakara, a man passionately obsessed with auto racing, he also became enamored with sports cars. In his free time from work, using worn-out parts, Honda started building his first racing car. The most challenging part – the engine – was found at a nearby airbase. It was a retired "Curtiss-Wright" V8 engine with a capacity of 8 liters, producing 100 hp at 1400 rpm. Showing immense perseverance, tenacity, and independently designing several components and assemblies, Soichiro managed to overhaul all the units and assemble his own racing car.
In the very first race, the car built by Honda, driven by Sahibakara (Honda himself participated as a mechanic), crossed the finish line first.
Working at the Art Shokai workshop, Soichiro Honda obtained his first patent – for metal spokes for car wheels.
The patent brought in good money and earned the respect of Shinichi Sahibakara, who suggested that the young man open an Art Shokai branch in his hometown of Hamamatsu.
Despite the village being small, by that time (1928), there were already two auto repair shops competing fiercely. However, the capital's authority of Art Shokai and Soichiro Honda's willingness to take on cars rejected by competitors quickly brought fame and money to the new garage.
Soon, Honda could afford to have two cars, while jealous rumors circulated about his leisure time in restaurants accompanied by geishas. In reality, he spent his evenings in his workshop, preparing his new car for competitions, and on weekends, he headed to Tokyo for another race.
Soichiro Honda's new racing car was built from parts and an 8-cylinder supercharged Ford engine, but many of Honda's own design solutions were used in its construction. The car could reach a record-breaking, for that time, speed of 120 km/h.
In the refinement of the car, he was assisted by his younger brother Benjiro, who also acted as a mechanic during races.
In 1936, at the First Japanese Automobile Races held near Tokyo, the car piloted by Soichiro Honda, with mechanic Benjiro Honda on board, led from the start, displaying a record lap time of 120 km/h. By the way, this record lasted for more than ten years. Coming out of the last turn, Honda suddenly discovered a car blocking the road, belonging to one of the participants. There was no way to avoid the collision. After the impact, Honda's car performed a triple somersault, scattering its own wreckage, and landed upside down.
The brothers found themselves in the hospital. Fortunately, it all ended with a dislocated forearm and a broken arm. However, Honda decided that it was time to hang up his racing career and focus on building and expanding his industrial empire.
The money flowing in from patents and the successful auto workshop business allowed Honda to think bigger. With a keen understanding of the car parts market, he delved into the production of cast piston rings. In 1937, he registered the company Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry. Soichiro Honda personally handled the production of experimental samples and the technology of their casting. However, the initial prototypes turned out brittle and unsuitable for use in engines, revealing the lack of knowledge in the young designer. At the age of 32, Soichiro enrolled in the distance learning program at the Hamamatsu Institute of Technology. While absorbing theoretical knowledge in lectures, he spent evenings testing new ring variants. In less than a year, Soichiro Honda achieved the desired result and patented the new technology in 1938.
He presented the results of his work to the founder and owner of Toyota - Kiichiro Toyoda. The products were well-received. Toyota not only signed a contract for the supply of piston rings but also made significant investments in the development of Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry.
In addition to Toyota, piston rings were supplied to the aircraft manufacturer - Nakajima Aircraft Company. Rapidly growing sales volumes necessitated urgent expansion of production capacities, and Soichiro Honda decided to build his own factory. However, he faced a problem – there was a severe shortage of cement in the country, which could only be purchased from state-owned enterprises. Studying cement production methods, Honda built a factory using his own manufactured cement.
Collaborating with Nakajima Aircraft Company, Soichiro Honda learned that before the start of World War II and the sharp increase in aircraft production, there was a severe shortage of wooden aviation propellers. Propellers were manually manufactured for several days. Honda developed an automated machine for propeller production and set up their manufacturing. Using Honda's machines, a propeller could be produced in a matter of minutes.
For this invention, he received gratitude from the government and state awards. In 1942, Toyota acquired 40% of Tokai Seiki Heavy Industry's shares. In 1944, Allied air raids destroyed the company's plant in Yamashita, and the second plant in Mikawa was destroyed a year later due to the earthquake of 1945.
After the war, Honda sold the remnants of his company to Toyota and, with the 450,000 yen he received, founded the Honda Technical Research Institute in October 1946. The new company began its activities by developing a compact two-stroke engine for a 50 cm3 bicycle, with a power of 1 hp. The idea came to Honda in 1945 when he installed a 1 hp engine from a generator on a bicycle. The rear-wheel drive was achieved using a long elastic belt – a precursor to friction drive. Honda and his friends enjoyed riding this motorized bicycle, so Soichiro decided that his invention could be in demand in the poor and devastated country after the war.
In 1947, the A-type engine (also called the first Toyota car) was created, nicknamed Bata-Bata for the sounds it produced. Motorized bicycles or mopeds produced by Honda were characterized by high reliability, and within two years, they captured 60% of Japan's two-wheeled transport market.
The A-type also introduced the first Honda logo. Soichiro Honda himself came up with the logo, inspired by the marble-winged statue of the goddess Nike (Victory). Stylized wings adorned the brand's first emblem.
In September 1948, with a large bank loan, Soichiro Honda re-registered his company under a new name – Honda Motor Company, and began construction of a new factory. Around the same time, Honda met Takeo Fujisawa, a talented sales specialist who invested a significant sum in Honda Motor Company and became its managing director. Honda completely shifted his focus to design activities.
For engine work, Kihachiro Kawashima, a graduate of the Hamamatsu Institute of Technology, was hired, who for many years became the chief "engineer" of the company. All three became not only like-minded individuals but also loyal friends.
The new company started with a transition to "full-cycle" production. Until then, only engines were produced, and the bicycles themselves were purchased from external manufacturers. The first "serious" product under the Honda brand was the D-Type motorcycle with a 98 cm3 two-stroke engine, released in 1949.
The motorcycle was so successful that one of the engineers present at the trials exclaimed: It's a dream! - Thus, the motorcycle received its own name – Dream.
The fuel tank of the motorcycle was adorned with the new Honda emblem with the wing of the goddess Victory.
With the start of Dream D-Type production, a new sales organization scheme was introduced. Honda Motor Company entered into contracts with territorial distributors, whose responsibilities included building a regional dealer network.
Successful sales of Dream D-Type allowed Honda to buy an old sewing factory in Tokyo in 1950 and refit it for motorcycle production. Another year later, in 1951, the Dream E-Type with a new engine design by Kihachiro Kawashima went into production. The novelty allowed speeds up to 70 km/h.
In 1952, Honda Motor Company's headquarters packed its bags and made a grand move to Tokyo. Oh, and let's not forget, in the same year, they threw open the doors to a spanking new plant in Saitama province, where they cranked out the Cub Type F engines – 50cc of raw power delivering a staggering 1.2 horses. Hold onto your helmets, folks!
Still in '52, Honda decided to play with a shiny new 90cc four-stroke engine, unleashing the beast in 1953 with the Benly J-Type motorcycle. The name Benly, a nod to the Japanese word "benri" meaning handy, perfectly captured the essence of this creation – practical, affordable, and easy on the eyes.
Now, enter the Honda Benly J-Type, strutting its stuff on the assembly line for over two decades, earning the title of the most reliable Japanese motorcycle of the '50s. It even got a snazzy new emblem, boasting not one, but two wings.
Still vibing in '53, Honda Motor rolled out not one but two more plants. The company suddenly got all professional with the introduction of unions and an employee suggestion system. Well, well, well!
Fast forward to '54, and Honda Motor Company owned a cool 15% of the motorcycle market in Japan. Stocks were soaring high on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. And, brace yourselves, the debut of the Juno K-Type scooter, the world's first kick-start-free motorcycle, marked Honda's grand entry into the USA. International markets, here they come!
With the economic downturn hitting Japan in the mid-'50s, Honda was all, "Let's take over the world!" In '55, they became the top dog in Japanese motorcycle manufacturing. And just to prove they weren't messing around, the Honda team dominated the first Japanese Motorcycle Endurance Road Race in '55, bagging top spots in the 350cc and 500cc classes. Take that, speed demons!
Fired up by their initial success, Soichiro Honda decided to take the party global, participating in races in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Isle of Man TT in the UK. Talk about spreading the two-wheeled gospel!
While cheering on his team in the UK, Honda ventured into the European auto scene, touring the factories of major European manufacturers. Licenses for specific components and car engines were bought like souvenirs. Who knew a race trip could be so productive?
Come May 1955, Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry kicked off the "People's Car" program. Honda, without a hint of car-making experience, surprised everyone by throwing their hat in the ring. To meet program criteria, Honda had to whip up a four-seater that could hit 100 km/h and cost under 150,000 yen. The Ministry thought it'd be a Nissan vs. Toyota showdown, but Honda had other plans.
With a whopping 50+ auto engineers onboard, Honda Motor opened a new research center in '57, diving headfirst into the "People's Car" project. Hold onto your steering wheels, things were about to get interesting!
By '59, Honda Motor Company was the motorcycle manufacturing bigwig globally and birthed American Honda Motor in the USA. In '60, they spun off research and development into a separate entity – Honda R&D Co., started cranking out bikes in Taiwan, and popped open the first European outpost, Honda Deutchland GmbH, in Germany.
In '62, they went all-in with an industrial equipment plant, blossoming into Honda Engineering Co. And there's more – a branch in Belgium assembling and selling bikes across Europe. And the cherry on top? Suzuka Circuit, a racetrack born from the coffers of Honda Motor. They even launched a massive ad campaign with the tagline, "You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda," boosting the family-friendly image of their rides for the middle class. Phew!
Lastly, on October 25, 1962, at the Japanese National Auto Show, Honda pulled back the curtain on three shiny new car models. The debutant? The Honda T360 mini-pickup, a farmer's dream, with a motorcycle engine pumping out 30 horsepower. Vroom, vroom!
Next in line was the sporty Honda S360, a compact convertible that caught eyeballs with its motorcycle-inspired design. Alas, it never hit the production line – talk about a tease!
But fear not, auto enthusiasts, for the first production-ready Honda car hit the streets in 1963 – the two-door convertible Honda S500. With a motorcycle engine churning out 44 horses, it could reach speeds of 129 km/h. And the cherry on this four-wheeled cake? A motorcycle-style chain driving those rear wheels. Who said cars can't have a bit of two-wheeled charm?
Joining the automotive elite, Soichiro Honda didn't forget his roots. In '64, Honda Motor Company declared their Formula 1 ambitions, hitting the Nürburgring with the Honda S500 team in the 600-kilometer race. Victory paved the way for the grand opening of Honda France S.A. in France. What a ride!
So here's the deal with Soichiro Honda – victories in regular car classes just don't cut it for him. No sir, he dreams of building a proper Formula 1 beast. Now, since his gang at Honda Motor isn't exactly Formula 1 savvy, he strikes a deal with the English chaps at Lotus: the Japanese handle the engine, the English sort out the chassis, and they find a bloke who can drive. A picture-perfect plan, or so they thought.
The grand debut of Lotus-Honda was set for the spring of '64 at the Monaco Grand Prix. But, three months before the race, out of the blue, Lotus bailed on the project. Why, you ask? Well, Lotus was tied up with another English outfit – Jaguar, which had just snagged Coventry Climax's racing department. Long story short, Monaco saw a Lotus-Climax on the grid, and Honda was left scrambling to build a car from scratch and scout for a driver. Talk about a plot twist!
Enter the Honda RA271, making its grand entrance on August 2, 1964, at the German Grand Prix – a machine with a fancy V12 engine, packing 230 hor...