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Honda celebrates five decades of iconic cultural movements as the Honda Civic turns 50

Honda is celebrating 50 years of the Civic model, and has curated new research to celebrate some of the most iconic cultural movements of the past five decades since the car first went on sale.

The list was commissioned by Honda and Dr Ruth Adams, Senior Lecturer in Cultural & Creative Industries at King’s College London, to celebrate the golden anniversary of the Civic, which launched on July 12, 1972 and has gone on to sell over 27.5 million units worldwide, with order books for the 11th generation hybrid model opening today (July 12).

London’s first Gay Pride march and the release of David Bowie’s iconic ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’ – both in 1972 – were the first events to make the list.

The 1980s boasted the highest number of cultural highs – 14, including Torvill and Dean’s unforgettable ice skating performance at the Winter Olympics, the launch of satellite TV and the debut episode of EastEnders.  

The 1990s proved to be a huge leap for intercontinental travel and culture, with the opening of the Channel Tunnel, connecting the UK to mainland Europe, in 1994. Other significant events included the Queen opening Buckingham Palace to the public (1993), the publication of the first Harry Potter book and the appearance of Banksy’s first mural (both 1997).

The new millennium brought huge advances in technology which have changed the way we live, as the first broadband internet service was installed in Basildon in 2000, and the advent of the video streaming service YouTube followed shortly in 2005.

Most recently and in a nod to the ever popular 1980s, this year’s re-emergence of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ thanks to the latest Stranger Things season on Netflix completed the list. 

A separate survey of 2,000 adults who drive regularly also found that for many individuals, cars are associated with our major milestones. Some 88 per cent of respondents said passing their driving test was a major turning point in their life, while 87 per cent of respondents agreed that a new car was also an important moment.

People were also asked which life events they associated with the car they had at the time, with first jobs (22 per cent), being on holiday (20 per cent) and having a child (19 per cent) emerging top.

In addition, almost half of us (41 per cent) go for a drive to process a big piece of news and nearly a third (30 per cent) say they were in the car listening to the radio when a major world event happened.

Dr Adams said: “Certain cultural events take on a significance not just for the individuals who were there, they become part of our collective memory and identity. These events represent our shared experience and sensibility. We see ourselves reflected in them – often at our best, sometimes at our worst.  

“They shape what sociologist Benedict Anderson described as the ‘imagined community’ of a nation, the ‘social glue’ that binds us together. The mass media and, latterly, social media have brought these events into our homes and on to our screens giving us a sense of togetherness with others in this national audience. 

“The UK has become a ‘smaller’ country over the past half century; we are ‘closer’ to one another than ever before. Car ownership becoming a reality for most has allowed people to travel more freely than previous generations, broadening outlooks and facilitating mass participation in leisure and culture. 

“Opportunities have been seized to transform cultural moments into enduring movements, with a capacity to change attitudes and even legislation, making manifest a vision of a more mobile, diverse and tolerant culture.”

Rebecca Adamson, Head of Automobile at Honda, said: “Fifty years and eleven versions of Civic has given us the opportunity to reflect on what was happening at the time, and exponential progress in so many aspects of society.

“Cars have been part of our movement, and although the cars we drive have constantly evolved over the last five decades, the emotional attachment we feel with them, and the association of memories with them, is timeless.”

Originally launched as a car for the world, the Civic’s enduring popularity is testament to the pioneering work of Honda engineers over the past half a century. Across 11 generations, it has introduced its own progressive evolution of the original design, while showcasing advanced technologies and new levels of performance but retaining the winning formula of a spacious, fun to drive and economical compact car.

Building on 50 years of heritage, the latest Civic blends strong performance and efficiency with improved levels of interior comfort, visual appeal and overall usability. As part of the brand’s 2022 ‘Electric Vision’ commitment to electrify all mainstream models, the new Civic features the most advanced iteration of Honda’s award-winning e:HEV full-hybrid powertrain system as standard, offering engaging dynamics and performance with impressive economy and efficiency.

The new Honda Civic e:HEV is available to order from Honda dealers from today and is priced at £29,595, or from £349* per month through Honda Finance.

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