Honda has produced its half millionth Civic at the Swindon car plant, with a little help from Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis!
The BAR Honda Grand Prix drivers took time off F1 duties to help build the milestone Civic, a mint green 1.6SE Civic 5 door. Working alongside the 4300 Honda Associates at the plant, the drivers discovered that Honda road cars are built with the same care and attention as their GP machines, only very much quicker – a new one rolls off the line at Swindon about once every 30 seconds!
And naturally when they’d downed tools and finished assembly, they took the machine out for a little spin on the factory test track. It is an important part of the job because unlike most other car manufacturers, Honda test drives every car it builds, as part of its quality control process.
We can report that F1 stars were instructed to drive a bit slower than normal, to go easy on the tyres and brakes, and keep off the kerbs. The half millionth Civic was an especially precious one – and like all Honda road cars, it’s expected to give many years of trouble free service…
The visit was a real eye-opener for the F1 drivers. "I’d never seen anything like this before," commented Jacques. "The speed at which everybody works is quite amazing. It’s quite stressful. I thought we’d get in the way but everybody seemed OK with us."
Olivier similarly enjoyed his new experience: "I was very pleased to visit the Honda car plant. It’s the first time I’ve done something like this and I really enjoyed working with the guys. I was really surprised how quickly the cars are built – 800 cars per day was a big surprise."
Car production at the Honda of the UK Manufacturing (HUM) Swindon plant began with the Accord in late 1992, with the Civic 5 door model added a couple of years later. The model quickly established itself as Honda’s best selling car ever in Britain and Europe, and was joined by the Aero deck (estate) version during 1998. In total, some 400,000 of the first Euro Civic were built, including almost 50,000 Aero decks.
Production of the seventh generation Civic began at HUM with the 5 door during late 2000, and with the 3 door during June 2001. In fact the 3 door Civic is only built at Swindon, and the model is exported in Type-R guise to Japan, and in 2.0 litre Si guise to North America.
Of the half million Civics built at Swindon, more than half have been exported – and recently sales of all Civics (including locally built examples) topped the two million mark in Europe.Published 4 July 2002