History of Boon Siew Honda – How it all began

The history of Boon Siew Honda started way back in the 1950s when a 43 year old man from Penang went for a vacation to Japan set his eyes on the Honda Cub motorcycles.

The late Tan Sri Dato Loh Boon Siew decided to ship some model back to Malaysia to help Malaysia find the right mode of transportation to rebuild the nation after World War II.

Together with Soichiro Honda himself, Boon Siew Honda managed to turn the Honda motorcycles into household names by the 1970s when they introduced the very popular Honda C70 and the rest is history.

The late Dato Loh Boon Siew with Soichiro Honda

It was sometime back in 1958 when a 43 year old man from Penang made his way to Japan and saw something that would change his life as well as the Malaysian motorcycle industry forever. At the time, the late Tan Sri Dato Loh Boon Siew witnessed a Honda motorcycle that struck his very core with its beauty as well as practicality and being the natural businessman that he was, he decided to ship over a few Honda cubs over to Malaysia to test the waters. Those models are the Honda C100 Dream and Honda Bealy.

1958 Honda Super Cub

With the idea that these Honda cubs were the perfect option for petite Asians to travel easily with no hassle at a very affordable price, the late Tan Sri Dato Loh Boon Siew had an epiphany that it’ll sell like hotcakes and will also help build the nation again after being invaded by the Japanese during World War II. Fresh from gaining independence, Malaysia needed a win and he saw a great opportunity to be a huge part of this, specifically how Malaysians would travel.

Each great individual had their own dreams to achieve with Loh Boon Siew wanting to revolutionise the Malaysian motoring industry and Mr Soichiro Honda’s burning passion to develop efficient and affordable mode of transportation. It was like toast with butter and kaya (coconut egg jam); great ingredients on their own but together; a match made in heaven.

Boon Siew and Soichiro Honda agreed on setting up a Honda subsidiary in Malaysia and not too long after the fateful meeting, the first ever Malaysian Honda showroom was opened in Penang on Pitt Street. It was also the time when Honda Motor Co Ltd (Honda Japan) appointed Mr Loh Boon Siew’s company as the sole distributor for Honda motorcycles in Malaysia.

It was a few years of trial and error with how his fellow countrymen perceived the Honda bikes which weren’t very popular at the time especially with the Honda C50 which couldn’t handle the rugged landscapes of Malaysia at the time. Through sheer determination and persistence, both Loh Boon Siew finally and Mr Soichiro Honda himself developed the Honda C70 in 1970 which turned out to be the great catalyst for a monumental paradigm shift. The C70 became Malaysia’s most popular 70-80cc bike and still very much sought after to this very day.

The business venture continued with importing Honda cubs or “kapchais” into the country but Boon Siew felt that the entire process can be made more efficient while at the same time can make the cubs more affordable. A factory was quickly set up in Penang in 1968 to help drive down costs as well as supply the ever increasing demand of Honda cubs in Malaysia. The company was rebranded to Boon Siew Honda, a move that has made them a household name until today.

The Honda Super Cub was later introduced with their famous tagline “You Meet the Nicest People on a Honda”, sales skyrocketed to the point where it is now considered to be the world’s most successful motorcycle of all time. Part of that worldwide success especially in South East Asia was all thanks to Boon Siew Honda. From humble beginnings with tough upbringing with no formal education, Tan Sri Dato Loh Boon Siew became “Mr Honda” of Malaysia and also one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the country.

By 1980, Boon Siew has achieved a monumental achievement of producing 500,000 motorcycles. During a span of only six years, Boon Siew Honda manufactured its one millionth bike in 1986. The numbers kept on rising and to date, over two million units have been manufactured and sold across the country. In 2018, Boon Siew Honda is expected to achieve its 5-millionth production in Malaysia.

After 59 years, Boon Siew Honda is still going strong in Malaysia as well as South East Asia with a number of successful models under their belts including the Honda EX5 which has gained legendary status. Even after 30 years since its introduction, the EX5 remains one of the most iconic motorcycles in the country which all started with a simple yet inspiring “Passion towards Dreams”.

A passionate individual when it comes to anything related to two wheels (or sometimes more), he enjoys the chaotic and magical world of motorsports as much as riding leisurely to the shops on his beloved Vespa. With an education-based background, he is always eager to learn and share about the poetic arts of motorcycling.

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