Soichiro Honda – founder of Honda Motor Corporation
Soichiro Honda was the man, who created an automobile giant.
Soichiro was born on November 17, 1906 in a small village in Japan. His family was poor. Soichiro had eight brothers and sisters. Five of them died when they were young because they did not have good medical care.
At the age of eight Soichiro saw his first automobile. It became his passion and for the next 50 years, he loved machines on wheels.
15-year-old Soichiro went to Tokyo to work at an auto repair shop. All his free time he spent fixing and riding motorcycles. Six years later he returned to his village and opened his own garage. Soon he owned several shops and had over 50 employees.
Honda loved to race, and he became one of Japan’s most competitive drivers. In 1936, his race car crashed and he had serious injuries. After the recovery Honda decided to find a less dangerous job and became a manufacturer.
In 1948, after the World War II, he started the Honda Motor Company. He made his first machines from engine parts that the military did not need after the war. By 1950, his motorcycles were selling all over Japan.
In 1960, Honda built the world’s biggest motorcycle factory in Japan.
By 1968, Honda had sold 1 million motorcycles in the United States. Hondas were advertised as a proper vehicle for middle-class individuals of both sexes and all ages. Because of this, within a decade Honda was the leading motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
His company started to make cars in 1963. Soon, the company became one of the world’s biggest automobile makers.
In 1973, Soichiro Honda retired as president of his company, but stayed as ‘supreme adviser’.
In 1980 Honda sold 375,000 cars in the American market, almost three times as many as Subaru and twice as many as Mazda but behind Toyota and Nissan.
In 1988 he became the first Japanese carmaker to be inducted into the Automobile Hall of Fame.
Honda died of liver failure August 5, 1991, in a Tokyo hospital.