Honda Verno Dealerships

From G1 Prelude

Every wonder what Honda Verno was or what it stood for? Honda Clio & Primo? Ever notice that in Japan certain Honda’s had special showrooms that they were sold by? Welcome to Honda’s unique “boutiques”; i.e. a chain of specialized Honda Dealerships, which all came about due to the release of the new Honda Prelude model. Officially established on July 1978, Honda wanted to make it simple to buy a car and what better way than to start with your own brand of chains to distinguish what type of car to purchase. It also was to support the launch of the new Prelude, being it’s first major model.

Most Honda Automobile dealerships today in the world are a standard layout, customer friendly, and sell all of Honda’s automotive lineup. If you want to purchase a Honda motorycle, you look for the infamous Honda “Wing” logo and located a power sports dealership. If you are interested in some of Honda’s power generators or lawnmowers, you look in a local retail store or for an authorized Honda equipment dealer . In 1977, this was unfortunately not the case and not as organized as we take for granted today. Customers simply had a one stop showroom for all of Honda’s products, and it started to get confusing.

If you wanted to buy the newly loaded Accord or test drive the CVCC, you may of had to wait on the customer in front of you test driving the newly built CB125 motorcycle. At the time, Honda was still a new name in the automobile industry and was still reeling from it’s motorcycle heritage that Soichiro Honda had so proudly built. All it’s dealerships were under the “Honda” name and kept everything in house for ease of product placement. Sales were associated with door-to-door salesmen or strong advertising. With the release of the N\S\T\Z series, Accord\Civic\Coupe\Life and global expansion to US shores in full swing to the mid 70’s….something had to be done with balancing it all. It wasn’t till early ’77 Honda decided that it’s upcoming built sports car that they would need to start managing their products in a different business strategy. In order to do this, they needed to showcase customers that their automobiles were highlighted on front stage and not to take away sales potential from their equipment and motorcycle lineup. New sales channels were setup by doing this.

With the Engineering of the Prelude ready for production, Honda decided to invent a separate dealer, “Verno” brand idea with a fresh new takes on their sales strategy and to create a friendly atmosphere for all new & returning customers. The Verno Dealerships consisted of using the same palette of colors (red/green) in their signs and marketing throughout the years. The showroom displays were laid out to introduce the new top model with the older models following suit. A unique polygon shaped sign showed passerby’s the new dealership and displayed the “V” logo loudly. The top of the dealerships displayed the Verno logo spelled out, as well as “Verno Nippon” with the location or town following the name. “Honda” was displayed on the sides of the dealerships and on certain signs to distinguish that this 100% Honda owned.

By 1986, two dealership layouts were presented to prospected business owners wanting to open their own Verno franchise. There were both a single and two story showroom layouts available, both featuring the same signs and customer appeal. A two-car service garage was attached to the sides of the dealerships for all the mechanical checkups and service needed for any Honda automobile sold. Honda decided upon the name due to certain “Key” motives for future Honda buyers and also matched the logos colors accordingly to its meanings: Verno is a red flower representing the customer. Verno young leaves are green, representing the safety and prosperity of the dealership. The Three Lines in the “V” logo represents; VITALITY, VALUE, VICTORY . “VERNO” via Latin translates to “Youthful”, “New”, “Lively”, such as the meaning.

“Designers tried hard to incorporate the new name’s meaning with a logo that represented it all in a simple letter.”

The Verno lettering used a special, custom made font that was easily readable and held great quality with largely printed signs. During construction and training sessions, Honda provided materials (such as the manual below) to help aid in keeping their standard for the showrooms and employees.

Since it’s creation, Honda Verno dealerships started selling Honda’s flagship car, the SN Prelude as it’s entry into the sports car market. But soon as newer models arrived, Honda found that it’s other models were perfect for the distinguished selection and started selling other models under the Verno name including the CR-X and NSX models.

Below are some extremely rare photographs of the '79 Preludes being shown and test driven at a newly constructed Verno dealership. All photo rights belong to Kouichi Kikushima, 菊島幸一 and Honda Motor.

The following models were sold under the Honda Verno name.

  • Prelude
  • Accord (1st generation & partial 2nd generation)
  • Civic (1st generation & partial 2nd generation)
  • Ballade
  • Quint
  • Vigor
  • CR-X
  • Integra
  • SJ Integra
  • S2000
  • Sabre
  • NSX

Verno Dealerships also sold Honda’s sporty utility selection later in the mid to late 90’s with the following models:

  • CR-V
  • MDX
  • Element
  • Crossroads (Land Rover OEM model)

Due to the popularity of the dealerships and model selection accordingly to their names, Honda opened the doors for two other dealerships named Clio (1984) & Primo (1985). Honda Clio Dealerships were formed in 1984 to sell Honda’s Luxury cars including the Accord and Legend. It’s logo was blue and red with greyish backing. Their tagline, “The Car Becomes Clear.” The sold the following models:

  • Accord Sedan (Previously Clio till 1989)
  • Accord Wagon (Previously Clio till 1989)
  • Concerto
  • City & City Turbo (Previously Clio till 1986)
  • Domani
  • Avanshia
  • S-MX
  • Ragureito

Honda Primo Dealerships were formed in 1985 to sell Honda’s Family cars including the Civic and Beat. It’s logo was Blue and red with White backing. Their Tagline, “Become a Family Car.” They sold the following models:

  • Civic
  • Civic Ferio
  • Today
  • Z
  • Beat
  • Ascot
  • Ascot Innova
  • Life
  • Active

During September 1998, Honda also began operating a test store called HEAT (Honda Exciting Active Terminal) in Kanagawa Prefecture. To meet the ever demanding nature of the world wide web, HEAT was to demonstrate an unmanned terminal setup to view and purchase your Honda of choice. No information is available as to what happened with the test store or it’s future. In March of 2006, Honda Verno, Clio & Primo were all joined together to form a single Honda dealership. By July 2006, it was final and all previous known departments were ceased. All current models in japan are sold under one joined shop.