QUOTES: Accord draws praise, barbs, respect through the years
The 2013 Accord coupe concept
Editor's note: Update corrects Lee Iacocca's title at Ford.
The Honda Accord has drawn praise, respect and even scorn since its U.S. debut in 1976 as a hatchback. But it also set new benchmarks for affordable family sedans through the years. A look back at what various people have had to say about the Accord:
"My overwhelming recollection of the Accord is as a failure."
"From the standpoint of sales, the design was a complete failure. Everything we had done was wrong. The money we had spent was wasted."
"We always learn from our experiences. We learn particularly from our failures. That first Accord -- the one we never produced -- was our best lesson."
-- Tadashi Kume, then president of Honda Motor Co., in a 1990 Automotive News story. Kume led the team that developed the Accord and later said the design proposals were catastrophic. Executives pointed out that the initial design for the car had no trunk.
"The Accord was developed to meet the needs of users more affluent and older than those buying the Civic."
-- Journalist Tetsuo Sakiya in his 1987 book, Honda Motor: The Men, the Management, the Machines.
"I drive [an Accord] myself on the commute to work. You have my congratulations for making such a wonderful car."
-- Lee Iacocca, then Ford Motor Co.'s president, in a 1976 meeting with Honda executives (from a history on Honda's global Web site)
"An Accord owner talked about his car as if it were a longtime family retainer. His mother had bought one, driven it for several years, given it to a daughter-in-law, it had 200,000 miles, had never been repaired, and it was still running great. A married couple had bought one when the husband got his promotion, they'd driven it to Alaska and back, now they owned two, and their teenager was on the threshold of inheriting the first. All they'd done was change the oil."
-- Journalist Mary Walton in her 1997 book, Car: A Drama of the American Workplace
The 2004 Accord.
"Though the previous Accord had, at one time, over 400,000 sales, we viewed the styling as too conservative. So the consensus was reached very early on to change from a conservative look to a more stylish, sporty, emotional and aerodynamic form."
-- Koichi Hirata, chief of exterior design for the 1994 Accord, in a 1993 Automotive News story
"The Accord was the last Honda to bear the significant influence of Soichiro Honda himself. The same engineers who had worked with the founder on the CVCC engine and the original Civic had conceived and designed the first Accord in 1978."
-- Automotive News Managing Editor Richard Johnson in his 2005 book, Six Men Who Built the Modern Auto Industry
"The launch of the J-car, GM's so-called import fighter, was a disaster, and it was becoming increasingly clear that anyone who lusted after the features of a Honda Accord -- tight-fitting panels, five-speed manual transmission, a quiet but powerful four-cylinder engine, 30 to 32 miles per gallon, a list price below $4,000 -- wasn't going to take the J-car very seriously. Contrary to popular belief within GM, most consumers now expected good performance and high quality to be standard features on their cars. The Japanese had taught them to demand that."
-- Maryann Keller, former Wall Street analyst and now industry consultant, in her 1989 book, Rude Awakening: The Rise, Fall, and Struggle for Recovery of General Motors
Honda's Marysville, Ohio, plant built 55,337 Accords in its first full year of production.
"The most important thing is maintaining the quality that the American buyer has come to associate with Honda products, which I am confident we can do."
-- Kiyoshi Kawashima, then president of Honda Motor Co., as the first Accord came off the line at the Marysville, Ohio, plant in 1982. Honda was the first Japanese automaker to build a car in the United States.
"Even the very people who should have been enthusiastic about Honda, the company's U.S. dealers, were skeptical. Many balked at ordering U.S.-made Accords, because they suspected the quality would be inferior to the cars Honda shipped from Japan."
-- Paul Ingrassia, referring to 1982, when Honda began building the Accord in the United States, in his 2010 book, Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry's Road from Glory to Disaster
"We asked [buyers] questions about everything. Here was this new Accord and it was exceeding the expectations of everybody."
-- Ben Knight, then vice president of Honda R&D of the Americas Inc., in a 2009 Automotive News story talking about his experience on a Honda marketing team for the Accord's launch in 1976
"Any drive of more than 10 minutes duration in the Honda should suffice to make a small-car believer out of all but the most hidebound big-car loyalist."
"The four-door looks and feels like a mini-Mercedes."
-- Car and Driver, in a March 1979 review of the Accord
"The Prius is for people who want the world to know they drive a hybrid. But the Accord Hybrid looks like a regular Accord. The same thing with the Civic. I'm not sure that is the right direction."
-- John Hawkins, owner of two Honda dealerships in Los Angeles County, in a 2007 interview with Automotive News. The Accord Hybrid was available in the 2005-07 model years.
"The Accord is the single most important product in Honda's lineup. We believe this new design will bring emotion to (the Accord) like what happened with the redesigned Civic."
-- John Mendel, then American Honda Motor Co.'s senior vice president, at the 2007 Detroit auto show, referring to the 2008 Accord
Honda introduced the newly redesigned 2008 Accord coupe at the North American International Auto Show in early 2007.
"The boomers already are sold on Accord, but young people have a number of choices. They don't know Accord. We need to emotionally engage them. This will be the biggest product intro that Honda has ever done."
-- Jeff Conrad, then vice president of advertising for American Honda Motor Co., in a 2007 Automotive News story, referring to the all-new 2008 Accord
"Styling and dynamics were higher on the list than refinement and comfort. There were a lot of requests from VW and Audi owners for a more high-tech attention to detail. They said the Accord lacked personality, not just in terms of features and buttons, but in the tactile feel, the choice of materials, the layout and logic of the instrument cluster. Anything we do with Accord changes the perception of Honda overall. We didn't want to do anything too predictable."
-- Tim Benner, then senior manager of advanced product planning and consumer insights for Honda R&D Americas, in a 2002 Automotive News story, referring to customer suggestions for the 2003 Accord.
"This car at this price is going to slow the perception that the Big Three are back."
-- Jack Kirnan, then auto analyst for Salomon Brothers Inc., referring to the 1994 Accord, in a 1993 interview with BusinessWeek
"I rejected Mr. Honda's way, but that is the Honda spirit."
"If this car fails, we won't survive."
-- Nobuhiko Kawamoto, then Honda Motor Co. president, referring to the 1994 Accord, in a 1993 interview with BusinessWeek
"The Accord is good in almost every respect, outstanding in none. The same could be said of the previous four generations, but in '94 it can also be said of many of the Accord's rivals. In a sense the Accord has been hurt by its own success. It's been the target for years, and compared to previous remakes, even overall refinement seems to fall a bit short. Perhaps it's unreasonable to expect the great leaps Honda delivered in the second- and third-generation cars to continue."
"Five years ago, the Honda Accord was the benchmark. Today, it's a benchmark in a crowded field."
-- Autoweek editors in a review of the all-new 1994 Accord
The 2013 Accord sedan
"We joke that the Accord is the I-don't-care-about-cars car, but it's one set of coil-overs away from being a track star."
-- Autoweek associate editor Jake Lingeman in a review of the 2012 Accord
"This new ninth-generation Accord will raise the bar again through a tour de force of new Honda powertrain and safety technologies, geared to ensure that Honda and the Accord continue to lead in fuel economy, safety and fun-to-drive performance."
-- John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda, introducing the 2013 Accord coupe concept at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
You can reach Adam Rubenfire at email@example.com.