Soichiro Honda –The man who never gave up.
Soichiro Honda was a huge successful businessperson who invented the famous automobile brand Honda. But how did he manage to attain such greatness? To accomplish something one has to face countless failures. The journey of Soichiro wasn’t easy. He faced various mishaps throughout his journey but never lost hope to do something different.
Soichiro Honda was the son of a blacksmith born on 17th of November 1906 in a small village named Tenryu, Shizuoka under Mount Fuji near Hamamatsu in Japan. He didn’t believe in traditional school and spent his childhood helping his father, Gihei with his bicycle repair business. His mother, Mika was a weaver as at that time.
Honda had a love for machinery, even while he was a toddler, the sight of the first car he saw in his village thrilled him and even when he grew up, he often said that he could never forget the smell of oil from it. His love for machinery became legitimate when he borrowed one of his father’s bicycles to go and watch the demonstration of an airplane by a pilot. This demonstration he saw became the bedrock of his later inventions. He built his first sports car by using an old aircraft engine.
When he turned fifteen and without any formal education and no job aside from helping his father, he left his home for Tokyo to look for work. He got work in a garage as an apprentice working as a car mechanic in 1922 where he learnt the necessary things about auto repairs before he returned home in 1928, when he was 22, to begin his own auto repair business.
In 1936, in the All-Japan Auto Speed Rally, he set a speed record of 78 miles per hour. He gave up racing cars after experiencing a bad crash and damaging his eye when he was 30.
A year later after the incident, 1937 precisely, he contacted Tokai Seiki to produce piston rings for Toyota. But in 1944, during the Second World War, a bomber attack destroyed the Tokai Seiki Yamashita plant. The plant later collapsed during the 1945 Mikawa earthquake. When the war was over, Honda recovered and sold the remains of the plant to Toyota for ¥450,000 and used what he got from it to fund his own research institute; Honda Technical Research Institute in October 1946.
Two years later after he opened his technical research institute, he began the production of the Type A complete motorized bicycles that was run by the first mass-produced engine designed by him. The type A bicycles was a huge success and sold until 1951. In 1949, he designed and produced the Type D motorcycle with a pressed-steel frame and a 2-stroke, 98 cc (6.0 cu in) 3 hp (2.2 kW) engine. The Type D motorcycle became the first model in the Dream series of motorcycle. Both the Type A and Type D models remain two of their 240 Landmarks of Automotive Technology in Japan as listed by the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan.
Due to his hard work, dedication and passion for machinery as the president of the Honda Motor Company, he turned the company into a multinational company making billions of dollars with his best-selling motorcycles in the world. His great engineering and marketing skills made Honda motorcycles to outsell the leading motorcycles as at then; motorcycles like Triumph and Harley-Davidson. Later, Soichiro Honda reacquainted himself with Takeo Fujisawa and later hired him to oversee the financial side of the company and he, Fujisawa helped the company to grow and expand. He knew Fujisawa during his days as a supplier of piston rings to an aircraft company named Nakajima Aircraft Company. Later in 1959, Honda motorcycles first American dealership was opened in the United States of America. Honda’s successful Civic model came out in 1972, along with the CVCC engine, which was the first car that met US antipollution standards without a catalytic converter.
He retired as the president of the Honda Motor Company in 1973 and stayed back as director.
He was honoured with the Holley Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his contributions to the development of small engines in 1980. He was later appointed supreme advisor in 1983. His dedication and works for the automobile world awarded him a spot in the People magazine as one of their 25 Most Intriguing People of the Year for the year 1980 where he was named the Japanese Henry Ford.
In recognition of Soichiro Honda’s achievements, AMSE established the Soichiro Honda Medal in 1982 which recognizes outstanding or significant engineering contributions in personal transportation field. Before he died, he was inducted into the prestigious Automotive Hall of Fame in 1989.
Siochiro Honda later died on the 5th of August 1991 and was appointed in posthumous a Grand Cordon of the Order of The Rising Sun and senior third rank in the order of precedence. His son, Hirotoshi Honda who wasn’t forced by his father to join in the automobile world later founded the Mugen Motorsports which tunes Honda vehicles and he also created racing vehicles for professional racing.
He had a passion for automobile and motorcycle racing which he turned into a profession Honda and the Honda Motor Company still live till today because he never stopped believing.
Success represents just the 1% of your hard work which results from the 99% that is called failure. Honda is number 20 on the Forbes’ world’s most valuable brands.
Watch the fascinating story of Soichiro Honda below
There are… qualities which… lead to success. Courage, perseverance, the ability to dream and to persevere.” – Soichiro Honda