Honda’s First U.S. Headquarters Was Right Here in Los Angeles

The brand recently returned to the Pico Boulevard building where it all began
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I drive a Honda and I love it. Outside of that ’67 Chrysler convertible (Sawzall edition) a friend and I made, it’s probably the best car I’ve ever owned. Back when that Chrysler first came off the assembly line, Honda sold only motorcycles in the U.S.

Warner Brothers starlet Pat Rainier assists Honda dealer Bill Robertson with ribbon-cutting ceremony in North Hollywood, 1963

Photograph from Valley Times Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

The company opened its first American showroom with seven workers at a former photo-processing lab at 4077 W. Pico Boulevard in 1959. The spiffy little bikes were an immediate success and dealers began carrying the line of inexpensive, zippy motorcycles. Boosted by a big advertising campaign and popping up all over pop culture throughout the 1960s, the cycles ultimately became the best-selling motorized vehicle of all time, selling over 100 million bikes.

Honda’s First U.S. Headquarters in 1959

Photograph courtesy Honda

American Honda quickly became a corporate citizen of Los Angeles, donating bikes for charity, and making the largest gift from a foreign company to the fledgling Music Center in 1964.

Newspaper carriers John Matthews,13, and David Weiss, 11, aboard the new 1964 Honda ’50 in Reseda.

Photograph by Valley Times Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

A go-go dancer checks on her groceries riding home to Beverly Hills on her new Honda in 1965.

Valley Times Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

When Honda introduced a two-door sedan called the 600 in the spring of 1969, it was two feet shorter (and 600 pounds lighter) than a Volkswagen Beetle and got 42 miles per gallon. Four years later, amid an oil embargo and gas shortages, gas-sipping cars were suddenly in vogue.

Martin MacDonald, Jim Craine, and Jim Nicholson test the Honda Scrambler on a run from Reseda to Central America in 1964.

Photograph by Valley Times Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

To celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary, a caravan of new Honda Super Cub motorcycles recently rode from the company’s original location (now a health clinic founded by Jewel Thais-Williams of legendary disco Jewel’s Catch One) to the current headquarters in Torrance. Here’s hoping someone comes up with a groovy go-go song about that.

Honda celebrates their 60th anniversary in America at their original location on Pico Blvd. in 2019

Photograph courtesy Honda

 

 

4077 West Pico Blvd., birthplace of American Honda in 2019.

Photograph by Chris Nichols


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