Four states. 1072 miles. Two days. All to see… cars?

You bet.

Ever since learning of its opening last year, I had plans to visit the Honda Heritage Center in Marysville, Ohio. My family has been a strong believer in Honda ever since my Mom did thorough research and insisted we purchase a 1980 Honda Accord to replace our gremlin-plagued 1978 Ford Thunderbird. Since then, my family has owned many Hondas, and aside from a brief period when I drove a Subaru Impreza, I’ve also been committed to the brand. I am also an avid motorsports fan and have followed Honda in that arena since the days when Ayrton Senna drove for McLaren-Honda in Formula 1. Needless to say, this museum became a must-see attraction.

First stop, however, was to take DH to my local Honda dealer, Burns Honda in Marlton, NJ, for a bow-to-stern check. While the car is a 2012 with 60,000 miles on it, I am a firm believer in preventative maintenance. The rear brakes had been giving an intermittent squeak, so I figured it was time to replace them, and I also wanted to make sure the rest of the car was ready for the long trip. The rear brakes did need replacing (not bad for 4 years and 60,000 miles), but the rest of the car reported as trouble-free.

My dealership keeps a first-generation Civic on the showroom floor, a great testament to the build quality of this brand.
Aside from the rear brakes which did need replacing, the service report indicated all green, as far as the eye could see.

Monday morning, we set off for Ohio, departing New Jersey after the morning rush hour had ended. Aside from intermittent rain showers, it was a stunningly beautiful drive. Western Pennsylvania boasts some amazing landscapes, West Virginia looks in places like a set from a movie, and Ohio has verdant farmland as far as the eye can see. All in all, it was a fun drive.

519 miles was accurate. The drive was closer to 9 hours, however. I think Siri was a  little optimistic.
Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia are full of hills and mountains, which make for lots of curvy roads. The Accord handled them all with ease.
The PA Turnpike takes you under several mountains. It’s a little disconcerting to be driving with millions of tons of rock above your head…
“Engage warp speed, Mr. Sulu.”
Photo credit to my friend for these shots while I was driving.
Nearing our hotel, chasing the sunset.
Finally arrived and all checked in. Hampton Inn, for the win.

The next day we arose, grabbed a quick breakfast, and set off for the Honda Heritage Center. We had a reservation for noon, although the facility opens at 10:00 am, and we thought we’d show up and see if we could be allowed in sooner, so we could begin our long drive home as early as possible.

In addition to the Belgian waffles, scrambled eggs, and sausage, this Hampton Inn also stocks Japanese food for many of the guests from Japan who visit the Honda factory.
USA Today or The Asahi Shimbun. What would you prefer for your morning reading?
We arrived at the Honda Heritage Center, and were cordially welcomed.
The Honda N600, the first production car sold in the US by the Japanese company.
The Honda Civic. At a time when American companies produced gas guzzling cars with less than stellar build quality, this little gem burned very little fuel, had low (for the time) emissions, and had very high quality control. It opened the American market to Honda.
The second generation Honda Accord, which was the first model built in the US. A 1984 Accord hatchback (in blue) was my first car.
The Honda CRX. Talk to anyone that owned one of these, and they are likely to begin their sentence with,”I miss that car so much…”
A Honda Accord wagon (Aerodeck when sold abroad), built in the US for the export market. The wheel is on the right side, as this one was built in Ohio and designed to be sold in Japan.
The J-series V6 engine, which powers DH. Very cool to see DH’s heart on display like this.
Quick timeout for a racing game. No lie: I set the second-fastest lap.
Acura was also represented. Witness the first-generation Legend.
The new NSX. I was disappointed they didn’t let me take it home as a souvenir.
Honda has a strong racing heritage. This is a V6 Indycar engine.
Acura LMP ARX-01. These endurance racers are designed to run at high speed for up to 24 hours continuously.
Comptech/HART Acura NSX… drools…
My friend was surprised to learn about Honda’s strong history in robotics. Hello, Asimo.
Honda has even moved into aerospace. This is the HondaJet.
Lest anyone forget, the company began as a motorcycle manufacturer. In fact, Honda’s first production line in the US was for motorcycles, not cars.

Some lucky guests are allowed to also tour the Honda factory across the street. Unfortunately, when I tried to make the reservation several weeks ago, the tours on this date were already booked. However, the very helpful staff asked if we would like to join the next tour group, heading over to the factory a little before 11:00 am. I remained calm, cool, and collected and responded,”Hmm, that might be fun. Thanks.” Inside, however, my response was: “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? YES ABSOLUTELY YES PLEASE LET’S GO! LET’S GO! LET’S GO!” Or something like that.

Our little parade of vehicles heading over to the Honda factory.
The entrance to the Honda factory.

Unfortunately, photos and video recording were not permitted within the plant, but I can tell you that we had a wonderful time. Our tour guides, Cindy and Carolyn, were very friendly and helpful. We got to watch sheets of steel eventually transform into sales-ready Honda Accords (the plant also produces the Acura ILX and TLX). I felt like a little kid, walking around wide-eyed, staring at the constant thrum of activity within the plant. While not allowed to take photos, I did find this video on YouTube, which is an inside look at the plant: From Start to Finish: How Accords are Built.

DH, visiting his birthplace.

Our tour over, we got back in the car and began the 538 miles journey home. It was a terrific visit, and one I would be glad to do again. The Honda Heritage Center is both a quasi-religious experience for fans of the brand, but also a fun learning experience for adults and children who appreciate technology and fast machines. The best part? It is all free… well, except for the large amount of money I spent at the gift shop, but that was completely voluntary. I highly recommend visiting this fascinating exhibit.

‘Til next time.

5 thoughts on “Heritage.

  1. Darn, I just posted a comment and it got wiped out. Must be my crappy connection here at the Super 8 in Fairbanks. I enjoyed this write-up! Great summary of your trip to/fro as well as inside the museum itself. I need that gen 1 Legend! 🙂


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