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The T360 Mini Truck beats a Sports Car as Honda’s First Car

Honda is one of Japan’s best automotive manufacturers. They have produced cars such as the Honda Civic and Accord. Honda is also the parent company of the luxury and sports car maker, Acura. The company is also the biggest motorcycle maker in the world.

Honda Motor Co., Ltd., was founded by Soichiro Honda.

The company started out by strapping motors to bicycle frames using 500 surplus engines from World War II. When the supply ran out, Honda made their version of the surplus engines. They had only 12 employees when they started producing the motorised bicycles. The company debuted their first complete motorcycle in 1949 which was named the Honda Dream.

The company became very successful with their motorcycles before seeing the opportunity to move into the automotive industry.

From Motorcycles to Cars

The first vehicle that Honda ever produced is the T360 mini pick-up truck. The mini pick-up truck was marketed as a kei-car. The Kei car class was limited to 360cc displacement in 1955. The T360 became the first production car beating the S500 Sports to production by four months.

The T360 had a mid-mounted 356-cc DOHC straight-four engine that produced 30hp which was similar to the engine in the prototype where the S500 was based on. The pick-up had a top speed of the 62mph. The T360 had a four-speed manual transmission and rear wheel drive. The strange thing about the T360 is that 108,920 units were made in a single color which was “May Blue”. The clamshell styled design had distinct headlights.

Honda T360

The T360 was produced in a number of variants including a traditional pick-up, a flatbed (with the option for folding sides), and as a covered van version. There was even a version that had snow tracks instead of rear wheels and was called the “Snow Crawler”. The Snow Crawler variant is very rare despite being very useful in the northern parts of Japan because of the higher price tag. The T360 was succeeded by the T500 which had a bigger and more powerful engine and was made for export.

Snow Crawler

Honda has come a long way from producing the T360. A year after producing the pickup, Honda Motors became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. The company now is the largest car engine manufacturer in the world in terms of volume. They manufacture around 14 million engines per year. Honda is currently the eighth biggest car company in the world today.

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