When Did Honda Become “The” Cool Foreign Car?

Way back in the day, a friend of mine developed a fetish for Alfa-Romeo cars. Very cool masculine machines, he acquired 2 or 3 of them, with the intent to repair and maintain a collection of these Italian beauties. For the next year, I waited. When I went by from time to time to see if I could take a ride with him in one of his Alfa-Romeos, He would say, “Still working on it.” Getting the parts was proving expensive and challenging. His mechanical skills always seemed to fall just short. He would figure out that this particular whatyamacallit was bad in the Spider, find the part, order it (after scrounging scrap yards,) cuss about the cost, then install it. Sort of. Once he got the part in, the car still was not functional. After 2 years, he called a tow truck and had his cool sporty foreign cars taken away.

Another friend had a red convertible Porsche. It was his very own fun treat, something He could drive to and from work, and take to local business affairs. His car was far too small for his family to ride in it, but that was ok, it was his man car. It did end up in the shop a few times a year, but he was fine with that, his Porsche was not about practicality or economy, it was about style. I imagine he probably still has it today. It may require more insurance, more upkeep, and have to be taken in for more foreign car service than other imports, but he loves the thing, and decided the cost and downtime were worth it.

When petroleum costs skyrocketed in the 1970’s, Japanese imports grew in popularity because of their fuel economy. They had not been considered a cool foreign car. They were small and not as sexy as their European counterparts. But, they caught on, and Asian car manufacturers slicked up and redesigned their models to appeal to the American Market. Now, many elements of foreign car manufacture are actually conducted in the US, making imports less foreign and more global in their orientation.

Somewhere in the 1980’s, Japanese imports started becoming the rage, along with the usual Italian, German, and French models. I had both a Datsun and A Subaru, loved them. Neither car required the constant upkeep that their flashier import friends required, nor did they cost near as much to maintain. Both were on a par with American made cars, in many ways even superior. Asian imports became quite popular, due to their longevity, quality, and practicality. These imports became the go to vehicle for their budget friendly practicality. They also looked good.

Imports took off. Not just for collectors and those with plenty of expendable income to spend on a cool racing car, imports emerged in the contemporary auto market as a worthwhile vehicle for anyone wanting practicality, economy, and cutting edge technology.

Honda in particular has really refined and expanded the market for great cars, especially when it comes to hybrids. The portfolio of Honda car models includes family size vehicles

as well as sporty models that give the driver the perks of a cool import without all the cost typical of foreign sports models. Honda combines sports car cool, low maintenance, fuel economy, and cutting edge auto technology in today’s market. No wonder they are so popular. Like Toyota, Subaru and other Japanese contemporaries, Honda repair and upkeep are nominal and affordable. You can anticipate enjoying your car without a lot of expensive and ongoing maintenance.

As of January 2014, Honda vehicles took 2 of the top 10 spots for most popular selling vehicle. Ford gets 3 vehicles, Toyota gets 2. The list is split with 5 imports, and 5 domestic models. Interestingly, the cool European imports of yesteryear don’t even crack the list.

If you are the owner of a Honda Civic hybrid, guess what, you are now cool. You can drive with pride right next to Jaguar’s and Bmw’s, because good economic sense and environmentally friendly vehicles are now cool. Your Honda Accord plug in is now a trend setter. Will the upcoming cool be moved up a notch for those who plug in their cars? Quite possible. If an electric or hybrid vehicle is the best choice for you, there are numerous model styles available. In fact, the electric car has become so cool, that European automakers are now making hybrid models for the traditional sports car market. What Japan started, Italy is now following. If my Porsche owning friend wants to get with the times, and maintain his cool, he can upgrade to a Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid.